The Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, southern Italy, is the second-most visited Catholic shrine in the world. Over 7 million pilgrims each year visit the Shrine. It centers on the tomb of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin friar, priest and mystic known for his devotion to God, care for the sick, and supernatural gifts. He died in 1968 and was declared a saint in 2002.
He is reported to have experienced a wide variety of supernatural abilities and miraculous events including: the reading of souls, bi location (being in two places at once), miraculous heeling and daily communication with his guardian angel.
Padre Pio's most famous spiritual gift is the stigmata, which he received in 1918 while praying before a crucifix. He is said to have bled from the five wounds of Christ for the rest of his life, which caused him great suffering and embarrassment
The Shrine consists of an ancient Church built in 1540 and a new one, Our Lady of Grace. This was specifically requested by Padre Pio and was built during his lifetime to accommodate the many pilgrims and worshipers attracted to San Giovanni Rotondo. Today it remains the central focus of the sanctuary
Padre Pio also founded the Home for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital in the forefront of scientific research and considered one of the most efficient hospitals in Europe.
The new modern Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church was completed in 2004. It can accommodate seven thousand people seated inside and over thirty thousands standing in the outside square. Designed and built by the world-renowned architect Renzo Piano it is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture
San Giovanni Rotondo is built on the ruins of an ancient village. Even today, many trace back to the old village. Frederick the II shaped the look of this village. In order to guard against looting, as occurred in the early history of San Giovanni Rotondo often, he fortified the city with walls and watchtowers. The relics are still present today