San Giovanni Rotondo, Apr. 24, 2008 (CWNews.com) - An estimated 15,000 people attended Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, as the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina were exposed for public veneration.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass in the church that Padre Pio made famous. The body of the Capuchin friar, who died in 1968, was then placed on display in a glass coffin.
Padre Pio gained worldwide fame during his lifetime as a confessor and a stigmatist. Thousands of pilgrims flocked to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet him and ask favors, recognizing his reputation as a miracle worker. He remains one of the most popular saints of the 20th century; about 300,000 people attended his canonization in June 2002.
His body was exhumed on March 3, and discovered to be in excellent condition. Embalmers have since prepared the remains for public viewing. Already 750,000 people have made reservations to venerate St. Pio's remains through the remainder of this year.