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St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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Religious Figure
    (May 25, 1887-September 23, 1968)
    Born in Pietrelcina, Italy
    Birth name was Francesco Forgione
    Capuchin priest
    Known as Padre Pio after his ordination
    Famous for his stigmata (bleeding from wounds corresponding to those suffered by Jesus during the crucifixion)
    Canonized in 2002
    He claimed to have been physically assaulted by Satan.
    The founder of Rome's Catholic university hospital called him 'an ignorant and self-mutilating psychopath who exploited people's credulity.'
    He was banned from teaching in a monastery school (1923) and called 'a noxious Socrates capable of perverting the fragile lives and souls of boys.'
    Pope John XXIII allegedly authorized bugging his confessional to investigate rumors that he had sex with women there.
    During several investigations, he was banned from saying mass or hearing confessions.
    The town where he lived, San Giovanni Rotondo, sells statues, t-shirts, cigarette lighters and other souvenirs with his image, prompting the Bishop to Como to comment, 'Jesus Christ chased the merchants from the temple, but I see now that they have returned.'
    He claimed he decided to dedicate his life to God when he was five.
    He summed up his theology as 'Pray, Hope and Don't Worry.'
    Pope Pius XI ended the ban on his preaching, saying 'I have not been badly disposed to Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed.'
    After hearing a confession from Karol Wojtyla, he told Wojtyla that he would ascend to the 'highest post in the Church.'
    His funeral was attended by 100,000 people and his canonization ceremony by 300,000.
    A survey by the magazine 'Famiglia Christiana' found that more Italian Catholics prayed for intercession to St. Pio than any other saint.

Credit: C. Fishel

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