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