padre pio

Long lines show a deep devotion to Padre Pio


A police officer genuflected. A man wearing a suit made the sign of the cross. A woman wrote a prayer intention and placed it in a box. Schoolchildren held holy cards against the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio.

The line was long in the early morning of Sept. 27 at Assumption Church in south St. Louis County, which hosted the relics of the beloved Capuchin Franciscan priest from Italy who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. It's one stop on a nationwide tour in 18 U.S. dioceses. Mass was to be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso that evening.

Collection of St. Pio’s relics make first visit to St. Louis

A collection of relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina — known to many as Padre Pio — will be visiting the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the first time later this month.

The relics will be on display for public veneration from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Assumption Church in Mattese. Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m.

Devotion to Padre Pio began with a missed Mass

Frank Beletz, right, gathered with family members in 1942 on a leave from the U.S. Army. Here, he's with Katherine, Mary, Morisa and Syl. Frank became interested in St. Padre Pio after members of his squadron attended a Mass celebrated by the saint.

Al Beletz was 16 years old in August 1945, hanging out at a Standard Oil gas station across Big Bend Road from his home in the Old Orchard area of Webster Groves.

The war in Europe was over, and his older brother, Frank, was on his way home on a 30-day leave.

Al listened to Frank's stories, including one in which his squadron bombed his parents' place of birth, Maribor, Slovenia. He learned later that his cousin had been napping in the house once owned by their parents when one of the bombs exploded in the road in front of the house, causing cracks in the ceiling.

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