A long white, lace mantilla framed the face of a young woman as she kissed the glass-covered mitt. This is one of the fingerless gloves worn by the humble Franciscan priest, renowned throughout the world as Padre Pio. He needed them to cover the bleeding wounds in his stigmatized hands as he celebrated Mass.

The mitt was one of three relics of St. Pio of Pieltrelcina that came to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and were displayed on May 18 and 19. The mitt, along with a piece of cloth used to stanch his wounds and a tiny portion of his bed, were placed on view at St. Andrew Church in Pasadena, admired throughout the world as a superb example of Romanesque Revival architecture, a fitting temporary home for the holy relics.

The interior of St. Andrew’s is a replica of the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome, a church dating to the early years of Christianity Prudent. Farseeing pastors successfully resisted attempts to gut its artistry and remake it into “a multipurpose room” and so it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Isabella Marquez, the lovely young woman, is a 17-year-old, homeschooled Catholic who came to pray for the health of a friend. “And for my grandparents,” she added, “and for the conversion of relatives who have fallen away from the Church.” Marquez became drawn to Padre Pio after reading about the zeal he showed for the love of God. She finds his advice, “Pray, hope and don’t worry!” a touchstone for her life.

Father Paul Saustayta, St. Andrew’s pastor, was humbly jubilant.  “This is a great blessing for our parish. It is a great honor as well to welcome pilgrims to our parish to venerate Padre Pio’s relics.” Gesturing around at the many helpful parishioners, Father Saustayta continued, “Thanks be to God, we’ve been able to put together an army of volunteers to help coordinate what we anticipate to be around 15,000 pilgrims coming to stay for the two days the relics will be on display. It’s been overwhelming and something of a surprise.”

Brenda Gallegos Morales, the pastor’s administrative assistant, concurred. Was she surprised at the appeal St. Pio has for Catholics? “Oh my God, yes! We’re the only stop for the relics in the Western states and we’ve had calls from people from San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento — indeed, from all over Northern and Southern California. Calls have come in from people in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Texas. None of us realized just how popular Padre Pio is!”

Full story at Angelus.