St. Pio was born in 1887, not far from Naples, in the province of
Benevento.
He was called Francesco after St. Francis of Assisi.
When he was a child, and as soon as he could think of the future and his
plan for it, he wanted to become a Franciscan priest.
Francesco chose the strictest branch of the Franciscans, the Capuchins,
to fulfill that dream. He became a Friar in 1907 and was ordained 3 years
later at the age of 23 by special dispensation, as the minimum age for
ordination was 24. Saint Pio was resident at San Giovanni Rotondo when he received
the stigmata of Christ on September 20th, 1918.
At the young age of 16, Joey Lomangino was blinded in a freak accident.
In addition to losing his eyesight he also lost his sense of smell. In
1964, Joey made his second trip from New York to San Giovanni Rotondo. Shortly
after a private discussion with the famed stigmatist, Joey regained his
sense of smell.
During their discussions Joey asked St. Pio if Our Lady was truly
appearing to the four children in Garabandal. Saint Pio's response was positive
and Joey journeyed to northern Spain and the mountainous village of
Garabandal.
Joey was deeply moved by the events at Garabandal and decided to inform
others of Our Lady's apparitions there.
He returned home to New York, and recruited some volunteers to help
spread the Message of Garabandal. Soon the public talks became conferences and
extended to other parts of the United States and eventually worldwide to
most major countries on all the continents. An organization was then
established which would fulfill another prophecy given to Conchita Gonzalez by Our
lady in 1964:
"The house of charity that he (Joey) will establish in New York will
bring great glory to God."
The Blessed Virgin also told Conchita that on the date of the Miracle,
Joseph Lomangino would receive new eyes.
Another significant event concerns the Veil which covered the face of
St. Pio after his death. In 1968, At the age of 81 years and having carried the
wounds of our Lord for 50 years and 3 days Blessed Pio died. His life
was proof that God actively intervenes in human history, using some of His
servants for His purpose. Father Cennamo OFM, a fellow Capuchin, was
instructed by Blessed Pio prior to his death to give the Veil which
covered his body to Conchita.
On the occasion of handing the Veil over in Lourdes, Father Cennamo
disclosed to Conchita Conzales that he doubted the authenticity of the apparitions
of Garabandal, but that he had changed his attitude when Blessed Pio
offered this significant gesture to her.