March 3, 2008
Archbishop Domenico D’Ambrosio opens the coffin containing the remains of Padre Pio, the Italian saint whose body is due to go on public display later this year. D’Ambrosio, a Vatican-appointed envoy who oversaw the unearthing Sunday night, said the body had been well preserved. Padre Pio died in 1968 after living for decades with inexplicable, bleeding wounds on his hands and feet, like the wounds Jesus suffered at crucifixion. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002. Church officials wanted to exhume the body so the faithful can pray before it this year, the 40th anniversary of his death.
Padre Pio believed that the love of God was inseparable from suffering and that suffering all things for the sake of God was the way for the soul to reach God. He felt that his soul was lost in a chaotic maze, plunged into total desolation, as if he were in the deepest pit of hell. During his period of spiritual suffering, his followers believe that Padre Pio was attacked by the Devil, both physically and spiritually. In one of Padre Pio’s Letters, he states that he remained patient in the midst of his trials because of his firm belief that Jesus, Mary, his Guardian Angel, St. Joseph and St. Francis were always with him and helped him always.