One of the reasons I started this site is because I kept accidentally learning about Catholic treasures that were seemingly hidden away in churches, unbeknownst to most. Usually there are no mention of them on the church or the diocesan websites and no central place for people to find out where they are.
My travels recently took me one such place in Sarasota, Florida where quietly sitting in a prayer room at Our Lady Queen of the Martyrs Catholic Church is a first class relic of Padre Pio. I’ve never venerated a relic of Padre Pio and as I don’t see a visit to San Giovanni Rotundo, Italy in my future, I was happy to have this opportunity. I went on a Saturday after calling ahead to make sure that the church would be open during the time I expected to be in the area. An additional benefit of calling ahead is that they can tell you exactly where to find what you’re looking for before you get there. You’d be amazed at the hidden and out of the way places some of these things are placed and oftentimes you can miss them if you don’t know exactly where to look.
As I walked up to the church I saw this lovely mosaic of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Following the directions of the helpful person I spoke to on the phone, when I entered the church I looked to my right and saw the door to the prayer room.
The room is full of statues, candles and kneelers and is a beautifully quiet place to spend some time in prayer.
Standing in the doorway I looked to my left and just past the door I saw a metal grate that had a cross and the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary next to the Crucifix.
I stepped closer to it and saw the reliquary holding the relic of St. Padre Pio.
As I looked closer I could see the single drop of blood from his stigmata, is in fact shaped like a heart.
It made me think of Jesus’ love for me and all mankind. Of Padre Pio’s love for God. Of my love for God and for this Saint that was renowned for his frankness and for sitting in the confessional for more than ten hours straight so that he could reunite sinners with God. Of the pain he endured by bearing the stigmata. Of how small my pains are in comparison. I spent some time in prayer before the relic. There isn’t a kneeler in front of the relic as it would block the door so I knelt on the floor and thought that the discomfort was appropriate in kneeling to venerate this Saint. I concluded my prayers for Padre Pio’s intercession by asking him to help me make a good confession as I had timed my visit to coincide with the time that the Sacrament of Reconciliation was offered. After all, that’s what Padre Pio would tell me to do.
If you know of a church that has relics available for public veneration or other Catholic “treasures,” please email me and let me know at CatholicPilgrim@hotmail.com so we can add it to our Sites by State page.