The tomb where the body of St. Pio of Pietrelcina was laid to rest has been re-opened, thus officially beginning the exhuming process.
The Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Monsignor Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio, the Holy See's director for the Shrine and Works of Padre Pio, presided over the liturgy which was attended by a crowd of faithful.
The process of exhuming the body and its "canonical recognition" has been approved by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and was announced by the Archbishop on January 6 of this year. The work will be followed by the same Bishop D'Ambrosio, who will be assisted by a team of both religious and medical experts, ZENIT reports.
Beginning April 24th, the mortal remains of the Saint of Pietrelcina will be exposed for veneration of the faithful, in the crypt of the ancient church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Rotondo, where he has been buried for the last 40 years. There will be no transfer of the body to the new church as some had initially been suggested.
The decision to exhume the body for veneration was made to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the death of St. Pio (23 September 1968) and the ninetieth anniversary of the permanent stigmata, which took place in San Giovanni Rotondo on September 20, 1918.