Pietrelcina is an agricultural village famous throughout the world for being the birthplace of Padre Pio, whose real name is Francesco Forgione.
Pietrelcina, where it is located
Pietrelcina is only 11 kilometres from Benevento and is easily reached by driving north-east along State Road 212. The village, which is perched on a rocky spur called ‘la Rocca’, 300 metres above sea level, is now a destination for many pilgrims who make their way to the house where the religious man was born in 1887. The destination is located in the historic centre, where it is possible to visit the religious man’s room, which is still intact. Even walking through the streets of the old town centre, made up of narrow streets, rocky spurs and small houses with external stairways, known as ‘the Castle’, is a mystical experience steeped in silence and peace.
Worthy of note in Pietrelcina are the Porta Madonnella, which leads into the old town, characterised by narrow uphill and downhill streets, the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, a place of worship where Pius celebrated his first mass, the Torretta, the religious man’s study refuge where he had his first celestial and demonic visions, which continued throughout his life, and the Church of Sant’Anna, the oldest in Pietrelcina.
Pietrelcina, what to see
At the entrance to the village is the Church of the Holy Family, built at the behest of Padre Pio, who also chose its name. Inside the church, in a side chapel, is the statue of St Pio blessed by Pope John Paul II on 2 May 1999, the day of his beatification, and opposite the statue is a fragment of Padre Pio’s body, the only one kept outside San Giovanni Rotondo. Housed in the precious Reliquary made by the sculptor and goldsmith Lineo Tabarin, is the U-shaped bone at the base of the tongue, which is called the hyoid bone.
Adjoining the Church of the Holy Family is the Capuchin Convent and the Museum, which houses some objects and relics of the saint, which can be visited free of charge.
The small museum contains artefacts that recall the Saint’s life: the cradle that welcomed his first womb, the desk where he carried out his duties, clothing, shoes, half-gloves, the habit he wore on the day he was ordained a monk, and small objects of daily use such as chalices, sacred vestments, stoles and gowns used during priestly functions. Among the exhibits visible in the museum, the most important is the flagellation vestment. Flagellation, as he himself confidentially revealed to Father Augustine in a letter, which is one of the four mystical phenomena that occurred at Pietrelcina along with the heavenly visions, stigmatisation and crowning with thorns.
Also in Pietrelcina, the religious representation of the living nativity scene, in which the entire population participates, transforming the village into a theatrical spectacle, is not to be missed.
Pietrelcina is supposed to have been built in Roman times, as inscriptions and remains found near the village date back to that period.
Outside the historical centre of Pietrelcina, at Piana Romana, which can be reached on foot along the Cammino del Rosario or by car just 4 kilometres from the village, is the masseria Forgione. Here you can see the well, which Padre Pio himself had built, indicating the exact spot where to dig to find the source of water, the elm of the stigmata, where Padre Pio received the first signs of the Passion, and the chapel, which is visited by thousands of people.