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Different cultures honour Italian saint

Local

The universal appeal of much-loved Italian saint Padre Pio was evident when large crowds of Catholics from many different cultures attended Masses and venerated his relics this month.

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Also known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar, priest and mystic who became famous for exhibiting stigmata for most of his life. The first class relics from his sanctuary at San Giovanni Rotondo in Foggia, Italy, were on display at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and the Newton and Seaton parishes.

At several relics Masses, churches were filled to capacity, with many Italians who had once lived in Padre Pio’s birthplace, Pietrelcina, part of the congregation.

At Newton on September 16 there were three separate Masses and there were long queues as parishioners waited for veneration of the relics.

The following day at Mater Christi Church it was standing room only as Fr GianMaria DiGiorgio OFM Cap, who accompanied the relics from Italy, spoke his homily in Italian. Co-celebrating priest Fr Luigi Sabbadin gave the same message in English, while a few words were given in Filipino.

When the relics visited the Bene Italian nursing home community the following day residents were appreciative they were included in the tour program and could honour their saint.

Students from St Francis of Assisi School attended a Mass on September 19 and received a third class relic and Rosary beads after they venerated.

Later that day there was a huge turnout for the final relics Mass held at St Francis of Assisi Church. This combined with the beginning of the Tridium Masses for celebrating the 50th anniversary of San Padre Pio’s death on September 23 1968 and the 100th year since his stigmata first appeared.

Lino Cardone of the San Pio of Pietrelcina Prayer Group at Newton said the visit was an outstanding success.

“It was exciting to see the congregations filled with many people from different cultures at the Masses for the San Pio relics. It exemplified the breadth of the appeal of San Pio throughout the world,” he said.

Mass at the Bene Italian Village to celebrate the visit of the relics. Picture: Lou Marafioti

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