Plan to exhume Italian saint Padre Pio draws protest
Reuters reported today that:
ROME (Reuters) - A plan to exhume the remains of Italy's favorite saint to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death has sparked a protest by followers who threaten to go to court to make sure he rests in peace.
The exhumation would give millions of Italians another chance to pay tribute to Padre Pio, a 20th century mystic monk said to have suffered from stigmata -- bleeding wounds in the hands and feet similar to those of Christ.
Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio announced at the weekend his intention to lift the saint from his crypt in southern Italy and put it on full view for several months starting in April.
"It is our duty to allow the generations that come after us the ability to venerate and best care for his mortal remains," D'Ambrosio said in a sermon.
But other Catholics, like Francesco Traversi, who heads the Association Pro-Padre Pio, are threatening to block the exhumation in court.
"They can't do it (without the relatives' permission) because otherwise they'll be committing a crime," Traversi told Reuters by telephone, adding his group would present a legal motion to block the proceedings in the southern city of Foggia.
Traversi said he had the support of Padre Pio's closest relatives -- his niece and her daughters -- although an Italian news agency quoted one relative denying that.
Padre Pio's popularity is hard to overestimate. A Catholic magazine once found far more Italian Catholics pray to him than any other icon of the faith, including the Virgin Mary or Jesus.
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