Holy relics of Saint Padre Pio will make their way to Northwest Indiana on April 27.
The Diocese of Gary will present a special showing of the relics from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 27 at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary.
"This is an opportunity for people to venerate the relics and to learn more about Padre Pio," said Michael Wick, chief of staff for the Diocese of Gary.
Italian-born Padre Pio, also known as St. Pio of Pietrelcina, was born in 1887 and ordained a priest in 1910. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. The saint died in 1968. According to information from the Saint Pio Foundation, Padre Pio is known as a mystic who had miraculous healing powers and also bore the stigmata or the wounds of Christ.
"On September 20, 1918, the five wounds of our Lord’s passion appeared on his body, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. Countless persons were attracted to his confessional and many more received his saintly counsel and spiritual guidance through correspondence," the foundation states in biographical material about the priest.
Wick said the relics to be displayed in Gary will be Padre Pio's glove; crusts of the wounds; cotton-gauze with the saint's blood stains; a lock of Padre Pio's hair; the saint's mantle; and a handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.
The relics began a tour of the United States last year and are on a tour again, which started in February and runs through May 11. The tour continues again Sept. 6 through Nov. 11.
The tour is presented by the Saint Pio Foundation, which promotes awareness of Saint Pio and his mission.
Wick said the Most Rev. Donald Hying, bishop of the Diocese of Gary, will celebrate a special Mass at 6 p.m. in honor of the saint. The bishop also will have a 9 a.m. prayer service April 27. Wick added diocese personnel are honored to be presenting the relics.
"The bishop has a great devotion to Padre Pio," Wick said.
Padre Pio's spiritual gifts, Wick said, were "well-documented."
"He is known for his great holiness. People knew he had a special spiritual connection," Wick added. "People felt God's presence and love through him."
Wick also explained that Padre Pio had a great love for the Eucharist. "It brought him closer to Christ," Wick said. Padre Pio also had a great devotion to Our Lady," Wick explained.
The lives of the saints and their relics are still of great interest to Catholics worldwide, Wick said.
"The saints always connect us to God," Wick said. He added when it comes to focusing on the saints and the relics, they offer a "sense of solidarity with these holy people."
One of the greatest phenomena surrounding Padre Pio was that he had the stimaga, which is something St. Francis also bore.
In the Catholic Church, relics themselves, are not worshiped but "treated with religious respect," a release from the diocese stated. "Touching or praying in the presence of such an object helps a faithful individual focus on the saint's life and virtues so that through the saint's prayer or intercession before God, the individual will be drawn closer to God."
There's no cost for the viewing of the Padre Pio relics in Gary. "This is an opportunity to share a special day of prayer and veneration," Wick said.
Visitors will have the chance to purchase items and books about Padre Pio at the church entrance that day.