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Francesco Forgione was born to Grazio Mario Forgione (1860–1946) and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio (1859–1929) on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, a town in the southern Italian region of Campania. His parents were peasant farmers. He was baptized in the nearby Santa Anna Chapel, which stands upon the walls of a castle. He later served as an altar server in this same chapel. He had an older brother, Michele, and three younger sisters, Felicita, Pellegrina, and Grazia (who was later to become a Bridgettine nun). His parents had two other children who died in infancy. When he was baptized, he was given the name Francesco. He stated that by the time he was five years old, he had already made the decision to dedicate his entire life to God. He worked on the land up to the age of 10, looking after the small flock of sheep the family owned.
Pietrelcina was a town where feast days of saints were celebrated throughout the year, and the Forgione family was deeply religious. They attended Massdaily, prayed the Rosary nightly, and abstained from meat three days a week in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Although Francesco’s parents and grandparents were illiterate, they narrated Bible stories to their children. His mother said that Francesco was able to see and speak with Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and his guardian angel, and that as a child he assumed that all people could do so.
According to the diary of Father Agostino da San Marco, who was his spiritual director in San Marco in Lamis, the young Francesco Forgione was afflicted with a number of illnesses. At six he suffered from severe gastroenteritis. At ten he caught typhoid fever.
As a youth, Francesco reported that he had experienced heavenly visions and ecstasies In 1897, after he had completed three years at the public school, Francesco was said to have been drawn to the life of a friar after listening to a young Capuchin friar who was in the countryside seeking donations. When Francesco expressed his desire to his parents, they made a trip to Morcone, a community 13 miles (21 km) north of Pietrelcina, to find out if their son was eligible to enter the Capuchin Order. The friars there informed them that they were interested in accepting Francesco into their community, but he needed to be better educated.
Francesco’s father went to the United States in search of work to pay for private tutoring for his son, to meet the academic requirements to enter the Capuchin Order It was in this period that Francesco received the sacrament of Confirmation on September 27, 1899. He underwent private tutoring and passed the stipulated academic requirements. On January 6, 1903, at the age of 15, he entered the novitiateof the Capuchin friars at Morcone. On January 22, he took the Franciscan habit and the name of Fra (Friar) Pio, in honor of Pope St. Pius I, whose relic is preserved in the Santa Anna Chapel in Pietrelcina. He took the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
*Content from Wikipidia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padre_Pio
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