San Giovanni Rotondo
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Located in the City of San Giovanni Rotondo, originally built in 1538, the Capuchin Monastery is the site where the Saint Pio lived from September, 1916, until his death in September, 1968.
Next to the Monastery rises the Old Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Our Lady of Grace), originally dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli, consecrated in 1629. In this small church with a capacity for about eighty people, Padre Pio celebrated Mass and heard confessions. It was here that Padre Pio received the stigmata in 1918.
The door to the old church has a ceramic semicircle over it depicting the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. As Padre Pio gained notoriety for his stigmata, the church became too small to accommodate all the pilgrims who came to get a glimpse of him and to get his blessing. Construction of a new, much larger church was started adjacent to the old church in July, 1956, and was inaugurated in July, 1959.
The main altar of the new church originally had a mosaic created by Prof. Bedini and depicting only Our Lady of Grace, but after Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002, a figure of Padre Pio and an angel in the clouds was added to the design.
The basement of the new church served as the crypt for the body of Padre Pio from his death until April, 2010, when his remains were placed in a new metallic coffin and transferred to the crypt of the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church.
Padre Pio's Church
Long dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie, the new sanctuary was commissioned by the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor (province Sant’Angelo and Padre Pio) and conceived by the world renowned Architect Renzo Piano.
The church is approximately 6,000 sq. m. (64,584 sq. ft.), and it can seat up to 6,500 people. Finally opened after ten years of construction and also known as the Church of St. Pio, the new Sanctuary was almost entirely financed by the offerings of pilgrims. It was inaugurated on July 1, 2004, by the then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manfredonia, Vieste and San Giovanni Rotondo, Msgr. Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio.
Padre Pio's Hospital
Known the world over as the “Hospital of Padre Pio”, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for Relief of the Suffering) is a religious hospital, entrusted to the Holy Father by Saint (Padre) Pio. The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Foundation, of which the hospital is part, “is under the control of the Holy See in the person of Cardinal Secretary of State “pro tempore” which on the same Foundation shall exercise the custody”.
The intention of Saint Pio was to create a structure which alleviated the suffering of the sick, to give comfort and solidarity to a person crushed by pain and suffering, both physical and psychological.
The mission of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza is clearly summed up in the words pronounced by San Pio the 5th of May 1966:
"Ladies, gentlemen and brothers of Christ, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza is full. I thank the benefactors from every corner of the globe who have cooperated. This is the creature that the Divine Providence, with your help, has created, and I give it to you, admire it and bless with me the Lord God.”
“…You are mere instruments in the hands of God to create this Casa “in which the souls and bodies of many of our sick brothers are taken care of and cured through the holy, medical, spiritual and social assistance of the hospital organization. The Work that you can see today, is at the beginning of its life, but in order to grow and become an adult it needs to be fed and this requires your continuing generosity so that it does not die of starvation, but makes this town famous for its hospital, one which is capable of meeting the most difficult technical challenges together with the most monastic Franciscan order."