The exhumed body of St. Padre Pio lies in a glass sepulchre in the crypt of the saint’s shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy. The body of Padre Pio, who died in 1968, will be on display until Sep 23, 2009. CNS photo

St. Pio devotion groups in Singapore continue to pray to him

SINGAPORE – Pilgrims to San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy will not be able to see the body of St. Pio after Sep 23, 2009. His body has been on a year-long display to mark the 40th anniversary of his death and the 90th anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, wounds that recall Jesus Christ’s crucifixion wounds.

Pope John Paul II beatified Padre Pio in 1999 and canonised him in 2002.

Father Ermelindo Di Capua, 76, from Our Lady of Grace Church in San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio and his community resided, told Philip Lee, who has been heading the St. Pio prayer groups in Singapore since 2001, that the glass enclosure containing the remains of St. Pio will be covered by panels so that he can no longer be seen. “He will not be entombed, just enclosed, but will remain in place for the time being,” Father Ermelindo said.

In Singapore, Padre Pio groups have existed since the 1970s, originating from Church of the Holy Family where Padre Pio devotees used to pray every 23rd day of the month to commemorate the saint’s death anniversary on Sep 23, 1968. Today, devotional prayers continue to be held every 23rd of the month, at Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at 5.00pm and Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at 6.45pm.

Attendees are encouraged to drop their petitions and thanksgiving before the commencement of intercessory prayers. Some people even telephone or send messages if they are in urgent need of prayers, according to Mr Lee.

Some non-Catholics have also joined the groups to pray following Father Ermelindo’s 2008 visit to Singapore with first class relics of St. Pio.

To Mr Lee, who developed an affinity for the saint in the 1980s when he attended the prayer sessions at the Holy Family parish, St. Pio is “a special saint, a saint of this new millennium, so close to our time”.

“Life had been tough and difficult for me but with Padre Pio, I learnt to practise self-denial and to accept and bear the physical pains I suffered for more than 30 years because of an accident during National Service,” he said.

Mr Lee said our sufferings are minute in comparison to the great suffering of the saint and this understanding of St. Pio’s daily suffering enabled him to better communicate with others and encourage them to come and pray. “It is when sickness and pain arise that we most greatly need to pray and ask for strength to bear and carry the cross if we are destined for it, and ungrudgingly accept the will of God who does what is best for our souls.”

? This year’s Triduum to mark the feast of St. Pio will be held at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour from Sep 21-23, with preachers Msgr Eugene Vaz, Msgr Francis Lau and Archbishop Nicholas Chia. Devotional and intercessory prayers begin at 6.00pm; Mass at 7.00pm. A documentary film on Padre Pio will be screened on Sep 23, 5.00pm

By Joyce Gan
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