More than 2,000 people from all walks of life flocked to the Cathedral of the Assumption June 3 and 4 to venerate the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.
Some sat and prayed quietly while others knelt and prayed in front of the relics, which included a lock of St. Pio’s hair, the crusts of his wounds and a piece of his mantle.
Luzmila Lafollette, a member of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, knelt and prayed. Lafollette later took out a cellphone and scrolled to a photo of her 24-year-old son, then held the phone up to the reliquary containing the crust of St. Pio’s wounds.
Her 24-year-old son suffers from glaucoma, which causes loss of vision. Lafollette said she prayed that St. Pio would work a miracle and heal her son.
“He helps those who consecrate themselves to him,” she said. Lafollette said she has consecrated her two sons to the protection of the saint who was known as Padre Pio in his lifetime.
Fabiola Sanchez, a member of St. James who traveled to Louisville with Lafollette, said she’s very devoted to the saint who was born in the late 1800s. Sanchez said while she lived in Italy, she visited Padre Pio’s hometown of Pietrelcina in southern Italy. “He’s a great intercessor. … His legacy is very beautiful regarding prayer and trust in God,” said Sanchez. “I’m praying especially for the conversion of my daughter and for my marriage.”
Chris Geddie, who’s had a longstanding devotion to Padre Pio, visited the cathedral with her two daughters, Gracie and Mary Geddie. St. Pio’s feast day, Sept. 23, is Chris Geddie’s wedding anniversary. She said one of her uncles met St. Pio once and got the impression that the saint was a bit “grumpy.” “I always pray to him when I’m feeling grumpy in my marriage,” said Chris Geddie, smiling. “I’ve been praying to him for 22 years.”
Her daughters have developed their own devotion to the saint. While traveling in Italy, 18-year-old Gracie Geddie collected medals bearing the image of Padre Pio. She brought those medals to the cathedral June 3 for a blessing.
Her older sister Mary Geddie sat quietly in a pew at the cathedral June 3 praying that through St. Pio’s intercession, she’ll do well on her MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). The saint — who founded a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, in 1956 — has become more important in her life as she’s started a journey to enter medical school, said Mary Geddie.
“He’s one of those figures who kept popping up along the way,” she said. “He’s very comforting.”
St. Pio’s hospital, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of Suffering), is still in operation today.
The tour of the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina was organized by the Saint Pio Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting St. Pio’s legacy and teachings, according to a press release from the foundation.
St. Pio was born on May 25, 1887. When he was 15 years old he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was ordained a priest in 1910, according to the foundation’s website. In 1918 the five wounds of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion appeared on his body and remained there until his death in 1968. He was canonized on June 16, 2002, by St. John Paul II.