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Padre Pio in Scotland
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On April 19th 2010 Padre Pio's body was moved to a new tomb in the Basilica
New Casket image 1
Padre Pio's New Casket
Casket in alcove in new tomb
Padre Pio in the alcove of the new tomb
New Casket image 2
Padre Pio's New Casket
Pope Benedict visiting the proposed new crypt
Pope Benedict is shown the proposed new crypt on his recent visit to San Giovanni

A view of the prosed New Crypt
A view of the prosed New Crypt
A view of the prosed New Crypt
A view of the prosed New Crypt
A view of the prosed New Crypt
A view of the prosed New Crypt

Controversy over the proposed relocating of St. Pio's Tomb

The Friars of San giovanni Rotondo want to transfer St Pio's remains to the new basilica,
but the townspeople of San Giovanni Rotondo are organizing to prevent the relocation of
his body
. An immense new sanctuary in honor of St Pio has been built adjacent to church
where his remains are currently kept.
This work has obviously been going on for some time.

It has been known for some time that the Friars would like to move the tomb to the new Church of
St Pio. This is spite of the fact that Padre Pio had expressly wished to be buried in a "quiet corner".
The following is adapted from an article by Paolo Scarano which appeared in the Italian weekly
Gente, as long ago as April 24, 2003 (Apologies if the on-line translation isn't the best)

The walls of the city of the most beloved saint of the third millennium are plastered with hundreds of placards, with the text of a poem that resembles a lyrical call to war.  It is a polemic dedicated to the "Lords of our faith", that is to those responsible for a most venerated sanctuary, to whom it is enjoined "Do not touch the tomb".  It refers to the tomb of that very same saint. We are talking about San Giovanni Rotondo, the city where Padre Pio lived, who a year ago was raised to the glories of the altar.  A city which,  in this late-arriving spring, is beginning to be filled again with the faithful.

The pilgrims cannot avoid reading these poem-manifestos that seem to disturb the serenity that usually reigns here.  There is no doubt about it, the wind of controversy is in the air.  But what is actually going20 here in San Giovanni Rotondo?

"What is happening", explains professor Giovanni Scarale, the author of the poem plastered on the walls, and president of an association which looks after the historic places connected with the memory of Padre Pio, "is that for many months the superiors of this religious community have manifested the intention of moving the tomb of St. Padre Pio from the crypt of Our Lady of Grace where it currently is, to a new crypt, in the new sanctuary that is under construction and that was designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano.  There are no valid motives that justify such a decision, which also appears sacrilegious for its materialistic spirit:  it is wished to bury him in this mausoleum only for the purpose of spectacularizing the basilica of Piano.  We are fighting against all of this and are proposing a citizens' referendum".

The committee promoting this effort has gathered 2000 signatures, which were sent to the town hall to petition for a referendum.  But before seeing what effect this will have, we will recount from the beginning the development of this heated dispute centering about the tomb of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.  It all began last February, when the confreres of the saint expressed for the first time the necessity of transferring his tomb.  "It is difficult to imagine the new sanctuary without the body of Padre Pio there",   says Fr. Gerardo Saldutto, the administrative friar who recruited Renzo Piano.   "Similarly, it would be difficult to imagine the Basilica of Assisi without the body of St. Francis, and this had been transferred from the Portiuncola, where he had died".

Thus, an ideal motivation, derived from the tradition of the cult of the saints, is behind the desire to create a new sepulchre.  But not only that.  "The crypt where Padre Pio is now buried",  explains Stefano Campanella, spokesman for the Capuchins of San Giovanni Rotondo, "is becoming more and more dangerous and insecure in view of the increasing number of devotees who wish to visit it.  The lines waiting to enter are enormous and force the pilgrims to wait hour after hour outside of the church.   Besides, the ventilation within the small room which houses the sepulchre is inadequate.  At the end of this past March, with the return of pilgrims in large numbers, four people were known to have passed out".

"Another important reason in favor of the transfer of the body", continues Campanella, " is that there are no adequate facilities for meeting the needs of the handicapped, precisely when Unitalsi, the important Catholic association responsible for pilgrimages of the sick to the great international sanctuaries, has recently decided to include San Giovanni Rotondo in their official itinerary.  It is also for this reason that the confreres of Padre Pio have been considering moving his tomb to the new, larger and more accessible sanctuary, which should be completed by the end of this year.  Thus in the basilica proposed by Piano there is being built a new crypt, in the form of a cylinder, with a giant stone over it, similar to what is done for St Francis of Assisi, of whom Padre Pio is the spiritual son and heir".

Why would anyone be opposed to the apparently logical motivations of Padre Pio's friars of San Giovanni Rotondo in their wish to move the tomb?  "In addition to the sacrilegious aspect, which is clearly tied into the commercial motives that unfortunately dominate the devotional activities of our city", replies professor Scarale, "the new sepulchre would violate the express wishes of Padre Pio, set forth in a letter written in  the Twenties to his fellow citizens: he wished to be buried in a "quiet corner", certainly not in something barely-Franciscan as the mausoleum of Piano". *

"Would Padre Pio be have been pleased with the current sepulchre in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady of Grace?", we asked.  "It is said that at the end of the Fifties Padre Pio made known to his Father Superior, upon becoming aware that a  crypt was being built for him, that he was opposed to being buried there. But it is also said that the holy friar then accepted in a complete spirit of obedience the decision of his confreres.  For which reason historically this is the place where he is remembered, and where his remains should continue to lie.  It is precisely in this spot that in 1987 Pope John Paul II came to pray, and after that Mother Teresa of Calcutta a great devotee of his, also came here.  To change the sepulchre, besides being offensive to his memory, makes no sense.  And if they are going to do it, at least consult the citizens through the democratic means of a referendum".

Now we come to the issue of the referendum.  To hear the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, Antonio Squarcella, this popular movement should never have occurred. "Yes, we have received such a request, but the law of our municipality speaks clearly:  referendums can only occur in matters of exclusive competence to the community, and an event such as the transfer of the tomb of Padre Pio is not such a matter. For this reason a referendum on the  question is inadmissible.  Besides I believe the friars are correct: serious motives of public order counsel the transfer of the tomb of the holy friar to more suitable location".

But the promoters of the referendum allege that the community regulations favor their effort, and promise further warfare of printed paper and placards, to have the body of St. Pio remain in its current location.

Floral banner
Padre Pio was particularly fond of flowers
"God Bless You" message with Bible and floral background