St. Pio’s relics to be on display in N.O., Lafayette

Relics of St. Padre Pio will be on public display in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Diocese of Lafayette during the next three weeks.

Local Catholic Maria Elena Castillo credits the holy man called “Padre Pio” with ensuring that her twin sister would have a peaceful death, and she did.

On the 51st anniversary of St. Pio’s death at age 81, his relics will come to St. Cletus Church, 3600 Claire Ave. in Gretna, on Sept. 23, his feast day.

The day will begin with 9 a.m. Mass, and the church will remain open until 8:30 p.m. for veneration of the relics. Confession will be available from 5-6 p.m. A second Mass will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m. Prayer teams will be available.

The three relics at St. Cletus are all blood-stained pieces of Padre Pio’s cloth bandages, positioned in clear containers. The Apostolate of Relics, a group of retired priests who work to keep relics of many saints in good condition at their Spanish base in the Canary Islands, is sponsoring the veneration.

St. Pio’s relics also will be displayed and open for veneration Oct. 5, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., at Notre Dame Seminary, 2901 South Carrollton Ave. in New Orleans, with Archbishop Gregory Aymond celebrating an 8 a.m. Mass at the seminary’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Seating is limited. Relics for public veneration there include St. Pio’s glove, crusts of his wounds, cotton-gauze with his blood, a lock of his hair, St. Pio’s mantle and a handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.

The St. Pio Foundation will sponsor the display of relics at Our Lady of Fatima, 2319 Johnston St. in Lafayette on Oct. 6. Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel will celebrate an 8 a.m. Mass. The same relics from Notre Dame Chapel will travel here.

For more information, call (337) 232-8945 or go to www.saintpiofoundation.org and click on “events” tab.

St. Pio spent much of his life in the monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo in central Italy. He was known for celebrating Mass with intense devotion, and he received the stigmata resembling Jesus’ crucifixion wounds during World War I after Pope Benedict XV asked Christians to pray for an end to the conflict. He used cloth bandages and gloves to cover his bleeding hands. He sometimes heard confessions for 16 hours a day. He continually prayed and advised others to “pray, hope and don’t worry.”

Castillo was at the 2002 canonization of Padre Pio by St. John Paul II and is thrilled that some of his relics are coming to the New Orleans area. She has heard from individuals who through St. Pio’s intercession have been healed of everything from paralysis to poisonous relationships.

Pope Francis proclaimed St. Pio a model of mercy during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy 2015-16. Tangible evidence of Padre Pio’s compassion is a hospital, “The House for the Relief of Suffering,” that the priest planned and brought to completion in 1956.

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