EAST HAVEN – "We heard about it on Channel 3 [WFSB] and rushed right down here," said Paula Santagata of North Haven, who was among the faithful to venerate the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in a special display held March 20 and 21 at St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish, located at 355 Foxon Road.
Sponsored by the St. Pio Foundation, the national tour of six relics, which has drawn tens of thousands of visitors during its succession of previous stops, included first-class relics of St. Pio's glove, blood stains on a piece of cotton gauze, a lock of hair, a handkerchief soaked with his sweat before he died and a crust of blood from his wounds. A second-class relic of his cape also was included.
Luciano Lamonarca, the founder of the the St. Pio Foundation, said the foundation is sponsoring the relics in commemorataion of the 50th anniversary of St. Pio’s death at age 81 in 1968. St. Pio was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
Noted for his holiness and humility, the beloved Capuchin priest known as Padre Pio is said to have manifested several supernatural phenomena, including the stigmata, which are wounds on the hands, feet and side paralleling those of Jesus on the cross.
Padre Pio also founded a home for the sick in 1940, which has grown to a 1,000-bed hospital named the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of Suffering) in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. The hospital is now one of two owned by the Holy See.
Mr. Lamonarca's passionate devotion to Padre Pio began, he said, when he and his wife were unable to conceive a child. A native of Italy, he was visiting the country with his wife when they met a man who had a handkerchief with Padre Pio's blood. They prayed for the saint's intercession. In 2015, his wife gave birth to a son.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and Bishop Frank Joseph Caggiano of Bridgeport serve as members of the Religious Advisory Council of the St. Pio Foundation, which is based in New Rochelle, N.Y. Mr. Lamonarca is president and CEO of the foundation.
Among upcoming stops in nearby states for the current 2018 “St. Pio Comes to America” tour are the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen, N.J., on April 17 and the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Manchester, N.H., on April 30.
For more information about the foundation visit: http://www.saintpiofoundation.org.
The display culminated with a Mass celebrated by Father Jeremiah N. Murasso on March 21.