A Pilgrimage to the Marian and Eucharistic Miracle Shrines of Western Europe



Breakfast time here at Hotel Valle Rossa, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy

A wake up call was made at 6:00AM. At 7:00AM, breakfast was served and our luggage was out already. Then at 8:30AM we went to Church of Padre Pio and had our tour, took pictures as most pilgrims are doing. We have a group picture and put it in a 2017 calendar and a local tour guide toured us around and made some explanation of the Church or Shrine of Padre Pio.

The Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy, according to a website called Sacred Destinations (sacred-destinations.com/italy/san-giovanni-rotondo-padre-pio-shrine), is the second-most visited Catholic shrine in the world. It centers on the tomb of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin friar, priest and mystic known for his devotion to God, care for the sick, and supernatural gifts. He died in 1968 and was declared a saint in 2002.

The city of San Giovanni Rotondo takes its name from the Rotonda di San Giovanni, an old building on the edge of the old town.

But the city today is best known for the Shrine of Padre Pio, which centers on his tomb inside the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Santa Maria delle Grazie). Here you can also see his cell, his confessional, the crucifix from which he received the stigmata, and nearly everything he owned or touched, carefully preserved and labeled.

Santa Maria delle Grazie (Our Lady of Grace) is a new church built during Padre Pio’s lifetime (1956-59) to accommodate the many pilgrims and worshippers attracted to San Giovanni Rotondo. The east wall bears a splendid mosaic.

Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcino, Italy. Raised in

IMG_20161016_081432 Padre Pio picture here in Room 416 of Hotel Valle Rossa

Padre Pio’s picture inside Room 416 of Hotel Valle Rossa I occupied

a pious Catholic family, Francesco entered the friary in 1903 and one year later received the Capuchin habit, taking the name Pio. He was ordained a priest and transferred to several sites until 1916, when he arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he remained for the last 52 years of his life.

Padre Pio is admired for his fervant love of Christ and the Virgin Mary and is known as the great mystic of modern times.

He is reported to have experienced a wide variety of supernatural abilities and miraculous events including: the reading of souls; prophecy; bilocation (being in two places at once); the odor of sanctity; discernment of spirits; living on very little sleep; miraculous healings; personal visits from Jesus and Mary; and daily communication with his guardian angel.

IMG_20161016_083737Padre Pio’s most famous spiritual gift is the stigmata, which he received in 1918 while praying before a crucifix. He is said to have bled from the five wounds of Christ for the rest of his life, which caused him great suffering and embarrassment.

Because of Padre Pio’s great holiness and gifts, the devil is said to have waged war on the friar throughout his life, which included physical attacks resulting in cuts, bruises and other visible marks.

In 1940, Padre Pio began plans to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, to be named the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza or Home for the Relief of Suffering. The hospital opened in 1956, and is considered one of the most efficient hospitals in Europe.

In 1956, construction began on a new church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to accommodate the many pilgrims who came to visit Padre Pio. Designed by Giuseppe Gentile Boiano, the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Foggia in 1959. This church remains the central focus of the sanctuary today.

In 1962, Bishop Karol Wojtyła, later Pope John Paul II, wrote to Padre Pio to ask him to pray to God for Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a friend in Poland who was suffering from cancer. Later, Dr. Poltawska’s cancer was found to have regressed; medical professionals were unable to offer an explanation for the regression. It is also rumored that during this time that Padre Pio had predicted Wojtyła would become Pope.

The priest died on September 23, 1968, clutching his rosary and uttering the words, “Jesus, Mary.” In death, his feet and hands showed no signs of the wounds of the stigmata: some saw this as evidence of fraud; others held it to be another miracle.

On May 2, 1999, Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio “Blessed” and he was canonized a saint on June 16, 2002. Half a million people attended the declaration assembly.

The shrine of Padre Pio receives 7 million pilgrims each year and is second only to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in popularity. In response to this, the large and ultramodern Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church was dedicated in 2004 by Pope John Paul II. As of the year 2000, there were more than 50 new hotels in San Giovanni Rotondo to accommodate the increasing throngs of visitors.

On April 24, 2008, the body of Padre Pio was put on display in the crypt near his usual tomb, to mark the 40th anniversary of his death. The body was found partially decomposed upon exhumation, but the archbishop in charge (Domenico D’Ambrosio) described it as being in “surprisingly good condition…. We could clearly make out the beard. The top part of the skull is partly skeletal but the chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved. The knees, hands and nails all clearly visible.” There were no signs of the stigmata.

After the exhumation, the body of Padre Pio was repaired and preserved for display.

IMG_20161016_094323 I touched the glass where the intact body of Padre Pio

The incorruptible body of Padre Pio

His face, which has a very peaceful expression, is coated with a silicon mask and the top of the skull is covered by his monastic hood. The body will be on display indefinitely; hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have already come to see it.


Fulling in line towards the incorruptible body of Padre Pio on display

During the tour of the Shrine of Padre Pio we full in line in order to pay homage to the body of Padre Pio. After the tour inside by which we see his cell, his confessional box and others we proceeded to the original tomb of Padre Pio for our Mass. The Mass presided by Fr. Joemer Candido and the readers were from my Group (Group 2). When our Phil. Tour guide took pictures at Fr. Joemer, one of the pictures was the shadow of Fr. Joemer and the shadow formed like Padre Pio. Wow! After the Mass we went back to the Hotel Valle Rossa at around 11:15AM.

We left the hotel at around 11:45AM bound for Lanciano, Italy. Lanciano is 156 kilometers from San Giovanni Rotondo.

In our 14th day pilgrimage I observed that trees abound. Are they man-made forest? Farms are also around in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. Europe is a beautiful place to visit and even to live in.

IMG_20161016_133550We stopped at an autogrill for our lunch at around 1:30PM. The name of the autogrill was Sarni Maglione here in Torino di Sangro, Italy before proceeding to Lanciano, Italy.  Torino di Sangro is a comune and town in the Province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy. We left this autogrill at around 2:20PM bound for Lanciano, Italy.

While the bus was running, bible bullets were distributed and I got this one: “At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort. Pray constantly….” (Eph. 6:18). Visiting Lanciano was really an opportunity and a miracle because I really prayed to God I could visit Lanciano, one of the sites of a Eucharistic miracles and it was given to me by God.

We arrived in Lanciano, Italy at around 2:46PM and entered the Church of St. Legontian. Lanciano is a town and comune in the province of Chieti, part of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It has 36,304 inhabitants as of 2011. The city is also known for the first recorded Eucharistic Miracle.

Ancient Anxanum, the city of the Frentanese, has contained for over twelve centuries the first and greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church. This wondrous Event took place in the 8th century A.D. in the little Church of St. Legontian, as a divine response to a Basilian monk’s doubt about Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.


The first recorded Eucharistic miracle happened in Lanciano, Italy. I prayed, I went, I visited and God granted my prayer to visit Lanciano.

During Holy Mass, after the two-fold consecration, the host was changed into live Flesh and the wine was changed into live Blood, which coagulated into five globules, irregular and differing in shape and size.

The Host-Flesh, as can be very distinctly observed today, has the same dimensions as the large host used today in the Latin Church; it is light brown and appears rose-colored when lighted from the back.

The Blood is coagulated and has an earthy color resembling the yellow of ochre.

Various ecclesiastical investigation (“Recognitions”) were conducted since 1574.

In 1970-’71 and taken up again partly in 1981 there took place a scientific investigation by the most illustrious scientist Prof. Odoardo Linoli, eminent Professor in Anatomy and Pathological Histology and in Chemistry and Clinical Microscopy. He was assisted by Prof. Ruggero Bertelli of the University of Siena.

The analyses were conducted with absolute and unquestionable scientific precision and they were documented with a series of microscopic photographs. These analyses sustained the following conclusions:

The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood.

The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.

The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.

In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium.

The Flesh is a “HEART” complete in its essential structure.

The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood-type: AB (Blood-type identical to that which Prof. Baima Bollone uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin).

In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.

In the Blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.

The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.

After we paid homage to a consecrated bread and wine that turned into the Body and Blood, we bought some souvenirs in a souvenir shop inside the sanctuary and then went back to the bus.

We left Lanciano at around 3:51PM bound for Rome, Italy. The Rosary was said inside the bus led by group 2, my group. we passed by 10 tunnels in going to Rome from Lanciano and then stopped again in an autogrill (Ciao Restorante) at 6:10PM for a 20-minute toilet break and I bought a juice worth 2,50 Euro.

We left this autogrill Civita Nord A24 in L’Aquila-Roma at around 6:29PM bound for Rome, Italy. On our way to Rome we passed by another 5 tunnels.IMG_20161016_202252 we arrive at this jotel at around 8,15pm

We arrived at Hotel Diana in Rome at around 8:40, have our dinner and then a goodnight sleep.

For more pictures, please see this link:   My facebook

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