Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in 1887, the son of Italian farmers. In 1903, he decided to join the priesthood. In 1910, he was ordained at the age of twenty-three. On the morning of September 20, 1918, he was deep in prayer when he experienced an “ecstasy” or a profound vision of Jesus that left tangible evidence behind. After the vision ended, he noticed that his hands, feet, and side were bleeding. These wounds are considered “stigmata” and are believed to correspond with the wounds that Jesus received while on the cross. From the start, some church officials doubted Padre Pio’s claims. They suspected that the wounds had been self-inflicted, so they called in doctors to examine them. One of the doctors conducted an experiment: he asked the friars to bandage the wounds and seal them for eight days. When the bandages were removed, there were no signs of healing. This suggested that Padre Pio’s claims were legitimate.

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