Skip to comments.[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] THEFT OF PADRE PIO RELICS ATTEMPTED
Posted on 08/09/2010 5:12:10 AM PDT by markomalley
(ANSA) - San Giovanni Rotondo, August 9 - An attempt was made during the night between Sunday and Monday to steal relics belonging to the revered St Padre Pio, police reported.
The would-be thief or thieves broke into a small chapel which previously hosted the tomb of the saint in the cemetery here in this southeastern town and tried to break into a display case which held the relics.
These included samples of Padre Pio's hair, gloves and gauze used to wrap his stigmata, the wounds he allegedly bore for over 50 years and which matched those of the crucified Christ.
The display case, however, was made of bullet-proof glass and was only scratched by the attempts to open it.
The remains of the saint were moved last April to a new shrine designed by prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.
The remains of the saint, who continues to be known as Padre Pio despite being canonized in 2002, draws some seven million pilgrims to San Giovanni Rotondo each year.
The annual turnover of the Padre Pio shrine has been estimated at some 120 million euros annually, including revenue from souvenirs, two periodicals and a satellite TV station - plus pilgrims' offerings.
The saint's massive worldwide following is said to include many famous names, including Sophia Loren and the late writer Graham Greene.
A Catholic magazine once found that far more Italian Catholics pray to Padre Pio than to Jesus or Mary.
The saint, whose real name was Francesco Forgione, was born in 1887 and died in 1968. His devotees believe he bore the wounds of the crucified Christ on his hands, feet and side for at least 50 years.
By the time of his death, he was credited by his fellow friars with having performed more than a thousand miraculous cures and other miracles - one of them for the future Pope John Paul II who was the driving force behind his canonisation.
Other alleged gifts were the ability to be in two places at the same time and emit the scent of fresh flowers.
However, during his lifetime and for some time even after he was was shunned by church officialdom amid suspicions of fraud and even accusations of impropriety with female followers.
He was only belatedly recognised, largely because of his towering stature among the faithful.
Padre Pio has massive followings across the world, particularly in Australia and Ireland.
One wonders what the thieves planned on doing with the relics.
Ransom or Satanism or just some stupid stunt.