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 CNS Story:

PADREPIO-EXHUME Jan-8-2008 (360 words) xxxi

St. Padre Pio's body to be exhumed, displayed for veneration

By Catholic News Service

SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy (CNS) -- The body of St. Padre Pio will be exhumed, studied and displayed for public veneration from mid-April to late September, said the archbishop who oversees the shrine where the saint is buried.

Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, papal delegate for the shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, announced Jan. 6 that he and the Capuchin friars of Padre Pio's community had decided it was important to verify the condition of the saint's body and find a way to ensure its preservation.

"It is my personal conviction and that of the confreres of St. Pio that we have an obligation to give the generations that will come after us the possibility of venerating and preserving in the best possible way the mortal remains of St. Pio," Archbishop D'Ambrosio said.

"A further motive for rejoicing," he said, stems from the fact that the Capuchins, with Vatican approval, "have authorized the exposition and public veneration of the saint's body for several months beginning in mid-April."

In addition to marking the 40th anniversary of Padre Pio's death Sept. 23, 1968, the public veneration of his remains also will coincide with the 90th anniversary of the day on which he was believed to have received the stigmata, bloody wounds recalling the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.

According to the Capuchins, Padre Pio received the stigmata Sept. 20, 1918.

Immediately after Archbishop D'Ambrosio announced the exhumation of Padre Pio's body, Italian newspapers and television stations began reporting that members of his family were opposed to the move and were threatening to sue the archbishop and the Capuchins.

But a spokesman for the family denied the rumors and Archbishop D'Ambrosio told Avvenire, the Italian Catholic daily newspaper, that he had been in contact with the family and they raised no objections.

Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. As a Capuchin, he was a famed confessor and preacher and had a widespread reputation as one whose prayers were effective in procuring miraculous cures. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1999 and canonized him in 2002.


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