SINGAPORE – Father Ermelindo Di Capua, a Capuchin Friar in the same order as St. Pio, will be in Singapore to commemorate the 40th death anniversary of St. Pio. The celebrations are being held at Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (OLL) in Ophir Road.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of St. Pio’s receiving the stigmata, wounds that resemble Jesus Christ’s crucifixion wounds. According to the Capuchins, St. Pio first received the stigmata on Sep 20, 1918.

Widely known as Padre Pio, he had a huge following. The popular confessor and preacher had a reputation as one whose prayers were effective in procuring miraculous cures.

Italian Father Ermelindo, 75, is from Our Lady of Grace Church in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, where St. Pio resided. Father Ermelindo spent his first five years in the friary, from 1965 to 1970, as the English correspondent and contact person for English language pilgrims. That period included the final three years of Padre Pio’s life. Padre Pio died on Sep 23, 1968.

Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1999 and canonized him in 2002.

In April this year, the body of Padre Pio was exhumed. It is on display for public veneration in San Giovanni Rotondo until September 2009.

Father Ermelindo travels to many parts of the world to bring the message of St. Pio’s spirituality, and takes along his relics to bless those who may not have the opportunity to visit San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy to visit his body.

This will be Father Ermelindo’s first visit to Singapore. He will use one of the gloves that covered the stigmata of Padre Pio to bless all those who attend the Triduum, which is part of the celebrations.

Father Ermelindo has been invited by the St. Pio Prayer Group of OLL parish. Padre Pio prayer groups have been around in the parishes in Singapore since the 1970s. The current group at OLL originated from Church of the Holy Family. These devotees used to pray every 23rd of the month to commemorate Padre Pio’s death anniversary. The practice has continued since.

This is the seventh year members of the group are celebrating St. Pio’s feast day and Archbishop Nicholas Chia will be joining them for the celebrations. Parishioners and friends from other churches are welcome.

The Triduum will be held from Sep 21-23 with devotion and intercessory prayers from 6.00pm and Mass from 7.00pm. Father Ermelindo will speak on all three evenings:

• "A Life of Holiness: Padre Pio as a disciple of Jesus" on Sunday Sep 21;

• "A Life of Devotion to Our Lady: Faithfulness" on Monday Sep 22; and

• "A Life Centred on the Eucharist: A man of prayer and suffering" on Tuesday on Sep 23.

- By joyce gan

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