Padre Pio relics entrusted to church named in saint’s honour

  • September 30, 2010
Padre Pio WoodbridgeWOODBRIDGE, Ont. - A humble Franciscan from a little town in southern Italy had them singing and dancing in the aisles in Woodbridge Sept. 23.

The overcapacity crowd that came out to greet three relics of St. Padre Pio and inaugurate a new church named after the 20th-century Italian saint broke out in frequent applause as Archbishop Thomas Collins baptized their new church.

The 21,000-square-foot church with seating for 1,000 couldn’t hold all the people who wanted to be there. With the parking lot full and cars parked along the shoulders of Major Mackenzie Drive for half a kilometre past the Islington Avenue intersection, many had to peer in the windows to get a glimpse of the grand liturgy dedicating the new church.

The church project has been ongoing since 2002, and there’s still work to be done, said pastor Fr. Gregory Ace. But it is finally ready for weekend liturgy and complete enough to hand the keys and the title to the building over to Toronto’s archbishop.

The culmination of the evening was the presentation of three relics and a chalice used by St. Padre Pio when Collins said Mass. From Italy, Fr. Riccardo Fabiano and Fr. Antonio Belpiede presented the treasures from Padre Pio’s Capuchin Franciscan community at the end of the Mass.

The relics consisted of a pair of gloves worn by the saint and a cloth he used to wipe the blood from his side.

St. Padre Pio suffered with the stigmata in his hands and side for about 50 years. The wounds healed only shortly before his death at age 81 in 1968.

“We entrust this great church to the patronage of Padre Pio, a simple and holy man,” said Collins. “Always we look to him in his holiness and his simplicity.”

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