A half-dozen relics of a beloved Italian saint will be displayed Sunday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Lafayette.
The daylong event centered on “Padre Pio” will start with 9 a.m. Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Douglas Deshotel, bishop of Lafayette, and will include veneration of the relics from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Knight Hall, behind the church that is at 2319 Johnston St.
In an issued statement, the Diocese of Lafayette said these relics will be displayed: St. Pio’s glove, crust from a wound, blood-stained cotton gauze, a lock of his hair, St. Pio’s mantle and a handkerchief soaked with Pio’s blood hours before his death.
“Each relic is encased in an elegant reliquary, which will be displayed for prayers and veneration,” the diocese said. “The faithful who visit will be allowed close enough to touch the reliquaries holding the saint’s effects.”
Pio, a Capuchin friar, was born in Pietrelcina, Italy in 1887 and entered the order at 15. From the outset of his religious life, his health was poor but, his biographers said, his will was strong. At 31, his U.S.-based foundation says, the five wounds of the Lord’s passion appeared on him and despite physical and spiritual suffering, he nonetheless provided saintly counsel to others.
Among his achievements was a plan to build a home for the relief of those who suffer. The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza opened in 1956 atop Mount Gargano in Italy and has grown to more than 1,000 beds.
Pio died Sept. 23, 1968. Pope John Paul II decreed him “venerable” on Dec. 18, 1997 and was proclaimed St. Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002.
The relics will be shown in Lafayette the day after a similar event at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. A North American tour of the relics is being accomplished this year in two stages. The first began in Evansville, Indiana, in May and concluded June 15 in Baltimore. The second was launched in Lafayette, Indiana, on Sept. 16 and has included stops in New York City, Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls.
From Lafayette, the tour will travel to Gaylord, Michigan, on Oct. 9 and will conclude in Salina, New Mexico in November.
A 2017 relic tour drew some 500,000 visitors.
Mona Bouillion, parish secretary at Our Lady of Fatima, said that Padre Pio rosary beads, prayer cards, booklets and CDs may be among items for sale Sunday. She said relics will be displayed so that people can touch religious items to the relic cases, creating a “third-degree relic.”
Monsignor Jeff DeBlanc, pastor at Our Lady of Fatima, said the Padre Pio tour will attract many visitors Sunday. DeBlanc studied in Rome from 1973-77 and recalls devotion of people there to Padre Pio.
“He was a holy priest and man of great compassion,” DeBlanc said. “He showed God’s love for all of us.”