St. Padre Pio Pilgrimage Sites in San Giovanni Rotondo
Sanctuary of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy) consists of two churches, Franciscan convent (part of which today is a museum) and the Stations of the Cross. All of these sites are located next to each other, at the top of the mountain in San Giovanni Rotondo. In this article I will provide more information about each of these sites and share pictures taken during my pilgrimage there. For more information on how to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo, read my previous article here.
Church of Our Lady of Grace
The original (old) Church of Our Lady of Grace was built in the 17th century and has been part of the Franciscan convent since then. St. Padre Pio celebrated Mass and heard confessions in this little church for more than 50 years. It was also in the choir loft of this church that he had received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) on September 20, 1918 and bore them for 50 years.
Today this old church with its beautiful picture of Our Lady of Grace is open for personal prayer as well as Masses. The confessional used by St. Padre Pio stands on the left side of the church, covered with glass. The place where St Pio received stigmata (upstairs, in the choir loft) can be accessed while visiting the museum of the convent.
To better accommodate thousands of pilgrims coming to San Giovanni Rotondo, a new (large) church of Our Lady of Grace was built in 1950s. Although both the old and the new churches have their own entrance doors, both churches are also attached to each other and can be accessed via interior door (the old church is on your left if you are standing inside at the entrance of the new church; and the new church is on your right if you are standing inside at the entrance of the old church).
The new church of Our Lady of Grace is much larger than the old one. St. Padre Pio was celebrating Mass in this church for about 9 years, starting in the late 1950s and ending in 1968, the year of his death. The church has multiple pictures, mosaics and statues of saints, including those of St. John Paul II and St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta (with their relics next to the mosaics).
Museum of the Convent of Our Lady of Grace
If you walk down the right aisle of the new (large) church of Our Lady of Grace, you will see an entrance into the crypt (underground) where the saint’s incorrupt body was kept until its transfer to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. From this crypt you can enter the museum of the convent which includes the cell where St. Pio lived, the place where he received stigmata, clothes he wore while celebrating Masses, handkerchiefs with a blood from stigmata, thousands of letters he received from people around the world and many other things that were part of the life of this saint.
Stations of the Cross
To the right of the Our Lady of Grace church, on a high hill, Stations of the Cross stand. The stations can be accessed while using the stairs.
Church of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Behind the church of Our Lady of Grace stands the newest and largest church of the Sanctuary – the Church of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. The incorrupt body of St. Padre Pio is venerated in the chapel of this church.
After waiting in line, pilgrims can come right next to the body of the saint and touch the glass that covers it. Masses are celebrated in this chapel, too. The chapel is often packed with people and is sometimes noisy. But if you come early in the morning most likely very few (or even no) people will be here and you will be able to pray in silence.
Gift shops are also located in this church as well as the office which accepts donations and Mass or prayer requests.
Pilgrim Information Office
Pilgrims can get free maps of the Sanctuary and have their questions answered at the Pilgrim Information Office which is located on the left side of Our Lady of Grace church building.