Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born in the small farming town of Pietrelcina, Italy on 25 May 1887.
He was admitted to the novitiate of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor in Morcone, Italy at the age of 15. He was admired by his fellow-students and his Superiors for his exemplary behavior and his deep spirituality. One of the novices stated, “There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer.”
Padre Pio prayed almost continuously. His prayers were usually very simple. He loved to pray the Rosary and recommended it to others. To someone who asked him what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, his brief reply was, “My child, the Rosary.” He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, “We must empty Purgatory with our prayers.”
Padre Pio said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering. The marks of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appeared on Padre Pio’s body, on 20 September 1918, while he was praying before a crucifix and making his thanksgiving after Mass. He was 31 years old, he bore the painful wounds in his hands, feet, and side for 50 years.
God given Padre Pio with many spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to read hearts, the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.