Newark, NJ – Five relics and a life-sized statue of St. Pio, the first priest in the Catholic Church’s history to bear the stigmata wounds of Christ’s crucifixion, will be on public display at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart this September as part of the Saint Pio Foundation’s ongoing “I Embrace You” Tour of the U.S.
All are invited to pray before the relics — which include crusts of St. Pio’s wounds, gauze stained with his blood, locks of his hair, a piece of his mantle, and a handkerchief drenched in his sweat — on Monday, September 12, between 12 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, September 13, between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In addition to venerating the relics, visitors will get the chance to admire a replica of “I Embrace You,” a sculpture created by world-renowned artist Timothy Schmalz that depicts blood pouring from the crucified Jesus into St. Pio’s stigmata. Photos taken by the saint’s personal photographer also will be available to view inside the Cathedral.
Once the display closes on September 13, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, will celebrate a special Mass to honor St. Pio’s memory at 7 p.m. Hundreds are expected to attend.
“We’re very excited to host this display,” said Father Bismarck Chau, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. “Many people do not have the means to travel to Italy, so this is a great opportunity to be in the presence of relics that belonged to someone who was a great example of service and devotion to Jesus. He helped so many people, and he was committed to prayer in a way that’s hard for even priests to manage. So, it’s amazing that people will get the chance to pray before his relics.”
The Saint Pio Foundation’s “I Embrace You” Tour commemorates the 20th anniversary of St. Pio’s canonization by Pope St. John Paul II as well as the 135th anniversary of his birth. Launching in May and concluding in September, the tour has so far attracted thousands to displays in major cities like Washington, DC, and Louisville, KY. Its stop at the Cathedral marks the first time relics of St. Pio will be made available for veneration in the Archdiocese of Newark.
St. Pio, also known as “Padre Pio,” was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. After being ordained a priest in 1910, he developed the stigmata for which he is known on September 20, 1918. But his legacy extends beyond his wounds, as the saint is revered for performing healings, exhibiting supernatural phenomena, and counseling countless Catholics on spiritual matters. The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of Suffering) hospital he established in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, in 1956 still thrives today.
“St. Pio is someone we can all learn from, and I encourage everyone to pray to him,” said Fr. Chau. “I once had to make a very important decision that was causing me a lot of stress, so I asked St. Pio for his intercession. As I was saying this prayer, I felt a great sense of peace from the top of my head flowing down to my feet, and I felt like a completely different person. I’ve told a lot of people to pray to him, too, and they’ve said they received blessings after they did. I hope everyone in the Archdiocese comes to pray before the relics so St. Pio can intercede in their lives.”
For the Cathedral’s full schedule of events related to the relics’ veneration — which includes confessions and prayers — visit www.newarkbasilica.org/st-pio. And to learn more information about the Saint Pio Foundation and its “I Embrace You” Tour, visit www.saintpiofoundation.org.
About the Archdiocese of Newark
The Archdiocese of Newark, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the sixth archbishop of Newark, serves approximately 1.3 million Catholics in 212 parishes and 73 schools throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union. The Archdiocese serves the northern New Jersey community through faith, education, and social services. To learn more, visit www.rcan.org.