12 February, 2016
The body of one of the most popular Roman Catholic saints, the mystic monk Padre Pio, will go on display at the Vatican in Rome.
His body was placed in a crystal coffin and taken on a journey to Rome Wednesday from San Giovanni Rotondo. It is a small town in southeastern Italy where he spent most of his life.
Padre Pio died in 1968. His body was dug up, or exhumed, in 2008 in San Giovanni Rotondo. His body was partly altered with a life-like mask and preserved in a glass coffin for viewing.
He was declared a saint in 2002. He spent most of his life hearing confessions. The Catholic Church said he had the "stigmata," or the bleeding wounds of Jesus on his hands and feet.
Pope Francis wanted the body of the monk to be displayed in St. Peter's Basilica during the Catholic Church's current Holy Year on the theme of mercy.
This small town's economy revolves around pilgrims coming to view Padre Pio's body. So not all the locals were happy that the saint was going on the road.
"Personally, for me, it is a sad day," said Auro Mizza, one of the hundreds who turned out to see the coffin off. Many had tears in their eyes. "A saint doesn't go on pilgrimage. It is the others who go on pilgrimage to the saint."
The shrine draws almost 1 million people each year. Padre Pio's body will be displayed in a Rome church along with the body of another, less famous saint. His body is being transported to Rome from northern Italy.
Both bodies will be moved in a walking parade to St. Peter's on Friday. They will return to their regular locations later this month.
Many people said the brown-robed Padre Pio was able to predict events in their lives and knew what they were about to confess. There are thousands of "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" around the world.
Padre Pio was accused of being a fake during his life and even after his death. But church investigators cleared him each time.
I'm Mary Gotschall.
Mary Gotschall adapted this story for Learning English from reports by the Reuters news agency and VOA News. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Do you have an opinion about this topic? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below, or on 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
saint – n. a person who is officially recognized by the Christian church as being very holy because of the way he or she lived
mystic – adj. a person who tries to gain religious or spiritual knowledge through prayer and deep thought : someone who practices mysticism
monk – n. a member of a religious community of men who usually promise to remain poor, unmarried, and separated from the rest of society
crystal – adj. a special type of glass that is very clear
coffin – n. a box in which a dead person is buried
exhume – v. to remove (a body) from the place where it is buried
confession – n. the act of telling your sins to God or to a priest
mercy – n. kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
pilgrim – n. someone who travels to a holy place
shrine – n. a place connected with a holy person or event where people go to worship
fake – n. not true or real