Throughout 2023 the relics of Padre Pio have been on an extended tour of the United States. The tour is sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation, because “The majority of those attending the tour of the relics of Padre Pio would never be able to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo or Pietrelcina to visit the places where our saint was born, lived, and died. For that reason, we sponsor a tour of the relics each year to give hundreds of thousands of the faithful an opportunity to have a ‘spiritual encounter’ with Padre Pio, to pray to him, and to ask for his intercession.” The relics have already been venerated by tens of thousands of Catholics in Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. On September 24, the relics will be venerated at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, and its adjoining Porzincula Nuova, in San Francisco.

The day will include veneration; an exhibit of video and photographs documenting the life of the saint; a discussion, Meet Padre Pio, hosted by Father Robert (Bobby) Barbato, OFM Cap. (the Shrine’s rector) and Franciscan Capuchin Friars, a procession with the relics to the neighboring church of Saints Peter and Paul; a special Mass, followed by a concert and banquet.

From a conversation with Fr. Barbato:

Can you please share your thoughts about the event?
“I am delighted with this visit of the relics of Padre (Saint) Pio. It gives people a wonderful opportunity not only for prayer and veneration, but also to learn more about his life as a Capuchin Franciscan but especially his love of Jesus Christ and all His people, especially the poor and the ill.”

What do you hope for from Padre Pio?
“This visit will be a blessing for our city — after all, Padre Pio was a follower of St. Francis, who is our patron saint. I know they both bless and intercede for all of us in San Francisco, especially those seeking food, shelter, and respect. In North Beach we have celebrations of our Italian heritage (my grandparents were from Italy), and I think what better way to acknowledge that heritage than to acknowledge and celebrate the heritage of our Italian saints, especially Francis of Assisi and Pio.”

What does Padre Pio say to us here in 2023?
“I think Padre Pio says to us today what he said to the people around him in his lifetime: trust in God and not worry about the future, showing your love for others in concrete ways. He would tell us never to forget the help of our friends in heaven, especially our dear Mother Mary, Saint Francis and Saint Clare, and Pio’s own help for us. We invite everyone to visit the Shrine of St. Francis and of the Porziuncola Nuova and experience the grace of God in the heart of the City of St. Francis.”

The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi is located at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Vallejo Street in San Francisco. A full schedule for the visit of Padre Pio may be found here.

– By Gibbons Cooney