As reported by Katherine Burgess of the Wichita Eagle, April 9, 2018:
A fingerless glove. Cotton gauze stained with blood. A lock of hair.Mr. Lamonarca's comment that veneration of a saint's relics is similar to carrying a photo of a loved one who has died is nonsense. I don't know anyone who believes that photos of dead loved ones possess spiritual power, or that one can ask the dead loved one to intercede to God on our behalf. Padre Pio's followers believe that he intercedes with God for them, which is contrary to the clear Biblical statement that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men. In fact, the whole cult around Padre Pio is blasphemous; it's part of a variety of Catholicism that believes that the Lord Jesus Christ didn't accomplish everything necessary for our salvation on the cross--contrary to His statement, "It is finished" (John 19:30)--but that additional physical suffering is required on the part of those such as Padre Pio.
An estimated 500,000 Catholics will flock to see these items as they travel across the country.
Last year, the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, known as Padre Pio, toured 18 dioceses throughout the United States.
This year, the six relics will visit 40 dioceses, including one in Canada and one in Mexico. One stop will be at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Wichita this Friday.
Relics are physical objects associated with a saint. They can include part of the saint’s body (a first-class relic), a piece of the saint’s clothing or something used by the saint (second-class) or an object touched by a first-class relic (third-class). The relics visiting Wichita include first- and second-class relics.
“We do hope indeed that when the people come to venerate the relics, they might take Padre Pio’s life as an example, the way he endured suffering and cared for the sick and the poor,” said Luciano Lamonarca, president of the Saint Pio Foundation. “My hope is that through this tour, people will find an inspiration in living their lives with humbleness and really with the faith. If Padre Pio himself was able to bear all this suffering for 50 years, surely we can do so as well.”
Born in Italy in 1887, Padre Pio was baptized Francesco Forgione, but took the name Pio when he entered the Capuchin order at 15. He was ordained a priest at 23.
Pio is widely known as the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. Catholics believe the stigmata — wounds that correspond with those Christ received at the crucifixion — appeared on Pio’s hands, feet and side in 1918.
Because Pio identified with Christ’s suffering in such a physical way, people see in him someone who understands their own suffering, said the Rev. Adam Keiter, rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“Our Lord himself said if you wish to be my disciple you must deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me,” Keiter said. “Padre Pio demonstrated that in a tremendous way, the value of redemptive suffering.”
Pio is known for spending long hours praying and taking confessions as well as starting a Home for the Relief of Suffering, which still exists.
Pio did many good things in his lifetime, but also said he would do even more good after his death, Keiter said.
“People really do feel that Padre Pio intercedes for them, that if they have a prayer, a request, Padre Pio goes to our Lord and presents that request on behalf of the people who’ve been asking,” Keiter said.
Lamonarca said Catholics will often travel from out of state to see the relics. Last year, the first time the relics toured the United States, at least 60 percent of those who came to venerate them said they were unable to go to Italy, where Pio’s body is on view.
The Diocese of Wichita has received inquiries from Nebraska and Oklahoma as well as across Kansas, Keiter said. They expect thousands to show up Friday.
Veneration of a saint’s relic is similar to carrying a photo of a loved one who has died, Lamonarca said.
“We want to have a reminder to us that the person is watching us, that we’d like to have the picture to remind us of the love we had and respect of the person when they were alive,” he said.
The relics will be available for public veneration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 430 N. Broadway, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, April 13.
July 29, 2018 update: In a related item, a relic of St. Francis Xavier has been on a tour of Canada, as reported by BBC News, February 1, 2018 (see photo here):
Thousands across Canada have attended public veneration for the right forearm of St Francis Xavier. The relic has made a rare trip outside of Rome to visit more than a dozen cities.