Our first stop today was Chiesa Antica (Old Church) where Bishop Malesic presided at Mass with the pilgrims. This small church was where Saint Pio of Pietralcina celebrated Mass every day. The prayer sachet, filled with the prayer petitions from the faithful in our diocese, was placed on that same altar. The confessional where Saint Pio sometimes sat for 18 hours a day was on the left side of the church.
At the end of the Mass a Capuchin monk welcomed us and told us about the life of Saint Pio. He blessed us all with 2 relics from St. Pio. The first was one of his gloves that he used to cover the stigmata on his hand, and the second was a simple wooden crusifix that he wore around his neck every day and kissed every night before he went to sleep. We were each invited to venerate the relics which were held by Bishop Malesic and Father Lechnar. The relics were also placed upon our prayer sachet and the intercession of Saint Pio was invoked by Bishop Malesic.
We then took a guided tour through the Old Church, the Sanctuary of Maria delle Grazie and the Old Friary. There we saw the cell of Padre Pio, many relics including a wall filled with prayer requests of just one year and many of the vestments he wore. We were able to give reverence to the original crucifix that spoke to Padre Pio when he had the vision of someone covered with blood. That was the moment he received the stigmata (the 5 wounds of Christ) and realized that he was covered with blood.
We were blessed to see firsthand and venerate the incorrupt body of Saint Pio. We visited the Shrines and worship spaces, and saw the stunning mosaics depicting scenes of the life of Saint Francis, and Padre Pio's deeply profound interactions with Jesus.
After dinner many pilgrims returned to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie to pray the rosary. At the end of the rosary, the Capuchin monks led a procession while reciting the Litany of the Saints. They carried roses up to Saint Pio's cell and set them in front of the chair where he died.
Click here for photos