Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (May 25, 1887 – September 23, 1968) or SAINT PADRE PIO (Pius) to Catholic pilgrims and his fellow friars, was a Capuchin priest from Italy venerated as a saint in June 16, 2002 by Saint Pope John Paul II. His real name was Francesco Forgione.

Padre Pio is known as the Patron Saint of Confessors, Catholic Adolescents and Civil Defense Volunteers.

pio9He is also known to have exhibited the catholic religious phenomenon called stigmata most of his life and this has generated much interest, criticisms and controversies from scholars and other religions.

*STIGMATA by definition is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet. (source: wikipedia)

Aside from Padre Pio, famous Catholic stigmatic includes St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena.

As far as I know there are only two churches here in the Philippines dedicated to Padre Pio. The first one is the Chapel of St. Pio Pietrelcina in Bagumbayan, Libis (near Eastwood) Quezon City and the other one is the Padre Pio Church in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

The church in Sto. Tomas was erected in 2003 and was formally elevated to National Shrine status on September 14, 2015. It is now one of the most popular pilgrimage site south of Luzon specially during the Holy Week or Semana Santa.

How To Get To The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio

I have not seen yet the Padre Pio Chapel in Libis but I am proud to say that I have already visited the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

This is the main church and shrine of Saint Padre Pio
This is the main church and shrine of Saint Padre Pio

The shrine under the Archdiocese of Lipa is located in Baranggay San Pedro in the town of Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Around 84 kilometers or an hour and half drive from Metro Manila.

Sto. Tomas is surrounded by the towns of Calamba, Los Banos, Alaminos, Tanauan, Malvar and Lipa. It is the province of Batangas’ gateway to Laguna and the hometown of Filipino-American war hero Miguel Malvar. They are know to be the hometown of delicious BULALO dishes.

There are buses in EDSA or Taft, Pedro Gil that can take you to Barangay San Pedro, Sto. Tomas. Those that are going to Lucena passes through this route.  Ask the conductor to drop you off to the bus stop going to Padre Pio. There are already tricycles in San Pedro that can take you straight to the shrine.

What To Do Inside The Shrine of Saint Padre Pio

If you’re planning to hold your group or personal pilgrimage to the Shrine of Padre Pio, I suggest that you get there early specially during the Holy Week. While it is such a beautiful place to do your selfies or group pics, bear in mind that it is a shrine not a park or just any ordinary tourist spot. It is a place of prayer and reflection.

A pilgrim saying a prayer to an image of Saint Padre Pio
A pilgrim saying a prayer to an image of Saint Padre Pio

Let me take you on a visual tour inside the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio:

The first thing you'll see when you arrive at the shrine is this life-sized statue of Saint Padre Pio
The first thing you’ll see when you arrive at the shrine is this beautiful life-sized statue of Saint Padre Pio
The arch to the main shrine delivers Padre Pio's message "Pray, Hope and Don't Worry" - because worrying is useless, God is merciful and he will hear our prayers.
The arch to the main shrine delivers Padre Pio’s message “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry” – because worrying is useless, God is merciful and he will hear our prayers.
The huge image of Mary Mother of God on the roof of the shrine was under construction when we visited the place
The huge image of Mary Mother of God on the roof of the shrine was under construction when we visited the place
Here's a look inside the circular church of Saint Padre Pio
Here’s a look inside the circular church of Saint Padre Pio
The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio was appointed as one of the Holy Doors for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (a national pilgrimage site of mercy)
The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio was appointed as one of the Holy Doors for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (a national pilgrimage site of mercy)
Here's the main door to the Holy Door of Mercy chapel
Here’s the main door to the Holy Door of Mercy chapel
Inside the Chapel of the Holy Door of Mercy, you'll find confession rooms named after the different saints
Inside the Chapel of the Holy Door of Mercy, you’ll find confession rooms named after the different saints
Inside the compound, you'll find a lot of life-sized image of saints like this statue of Saint Jean Baptiste-Marie Vianney
Inside the compound, you’ll find a lot of life-sized image of saints like this statue of Saint Jean Baptiste-Marie Vianney
A statue of Saint Pope John Paul II
A statue of Saint Pope John Paul II
Right beside the main church is the Mary Mother of Mercy Belfry which houses some images and relics of Saint Padre Pio
Right beside the main church is the Mary Mother of Mercy Belfry which houses some images and relics of Saint Padre Pio
Below the Belfry is the chapel of the Holy and Living Water
Below the Belfry is the chapel of the Holy and Living Water
At the center of this small water is a religious relic on top of fountain. Pilgrims go here to touch the flowing miraculous water to be blessed.
At the center of this small chapel is a religious relic on top of a fountain with flowing water. Pilgrims go here to touch the miraculous water and be blessed.
These two special vases produces blessed water that pilgrims can take with them.
These two special vases produces blessed water that pilgrims can take with them.
Right beside the chapel of the Holy and Living Water is the Sanctuary of the Wood of the Most Sacred Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Right beside the chapel of the Holy and Living Water is the Sanctuary of the Wood of the Most Sacred Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The sanctuary contains another special relic that pilgrims can connect to while on their spiritual journey
The sanctuary contains another special relic that pilgrims can connect to while on their spiritual journey
The sanctuary is smaller than any chapels found inside the National Shrine
The sanctuary is smaller than any chapels found inside the National Shrine
Going down the same path you'll find the candle area - like in most Catholic churches, the color of the candle corresponds to a specific petition. You'll find the list at the candle store.
Going down the same path you’ll find the candle area – like in most Catholic churches, the color of the candle corresponds to a specific petition. You’ll find the list at the candle store.
Here's a view of the Belfry, the Sanctuary and part of the main church at the back
Here’s a view of the Belfry, the Sanctuary, the candle area and part of the main church at the back
Behind the church, you'll find the Fountain of Hope
Behind the church, you’ll find the Fountain of Hope
The Fountain of Hope bears the image of the stigmatic Saint Padre Pio and the image of the crucified Christ
The Fountain of Hope bears the image of the stigmatic Saint Padre Pio and the image of the crucified Christ
Another welcome addition to the many religious activities inside the shrine is this
Another welcome addition to the many religious activities inside the shrine is this wall dedicated to prayer locks

The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio is truly becoming one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site here in the Philippines by both local and foreign faithfuls. One must not confuse its natural beauty as mere displays of cultural relevance but as tools to rekindle the fire of faith and to reconnect us to our religious beliefs as well as our relationship with GOD.

It is also good to know that the shrine is also a favorite place for pilgrims to hold their annual Way of The Cross practice.

Saint Padre Pio, PRAY FOR US!

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raindeocampo

Training Facilitator at TeamCITE
Writer, Wanderer, Child of God
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The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas

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