The body of a revered Roman Catholic monk said to have suffered from the stigmata phenomenon has been exhumed and is to be transported to the Vatican in a crystal coffin.
Partially reconstructed with a life-like silicone mask and preserved in a temperature-controlled shrine, the mystic monk Padre Pio has officially begun his journey to St Peter's Basilica.
Although he died in 1968, the popular Capuchin monk was declared a saint in 2002 and exhumed from his grave in 2008 to go on display in his hometown of San Giovanni.
The monk spent most of his life in the small, southeastern Italian town where yesterday his body was moved to San Lorenzo Basilica in Rome. Tomorrow, he will be taken to the Vatican.
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Padre Pio (pictured) was exhumed in 2008 and had his face partially reconstructed using a silicone mask. Here he is pictured at San Lorenzo Basilica in Rome, ahead of his journey to the Vatican tomorrow
The monk, who died in 1968 and was made a saint in 2008, remains one of the Church's most popular figures
Pilgrims gather around the temperature-controlled shrine built to hold the revered 'mystic monk'
Tomorrow his body will be transported back to Rome inside the crystal coffin to be put on display in the Vatican
A group of pilgrims carry Padre Pio's body inside the hall in San Lorenzo Basilica as part of the Church's jubilee celebrations
Padre Pio had been buried in San Giovanni Rotondo, the small, southeastern Italian town where he spent most of his life. Yesterday he was taken to Rome ahead of being displayed in the Vatican
Two faithful touch the glass cabinet holding Padre Pio, who was said to suffer from the stigmata phenomenon
The Church claims he suffered from stigmata during his life - a phenomenon which sees those afflicted to bleed or feel ghost pains mimicking those Jesus suffered when he was crucified.
Pope Francis wanted the body of man who spent most of his life hearing confessions to be displayed.
However, not all the locals in his small town - whose economy revolves around the pilgrim trade - were happy that the saint was going on the road.
'Personally for me it is a sad day,' said Auro Mizza, one of the hundreds of people who turned out to see the coffin off, many of them with tears in their eyes.
'A saint doesn't go on pilgrimage, it is the others who go on pilgrimage to the saint.'
His shrine draws close to a million people yearly.
The body, along with that of another, less famous saint that is being transported to Rome from northern Italy, are being displayed in San Lorenzo Basilica before both are moved in procession to St. Peter's tomorrow. They will return to their regular locations later this month.
Many people said the brown-robed Padre Pio was able to predict events in their lives and knew what they were about to confess. There are thousands of 'Padre Pio Prayer Groups' around the world.
Padre Pio was dogged during his life and even after his death by allegations that he was a fake but Church investigators cleared him each time.
A group of men carry Padre Pio from a waiting vehicle during his arrival at San Lorenzo Basilica yesterday
During his life, Padre Pio was said to suffer from stigmata, the phenomenon which causes sufferers to feel pains mimicking those Jesus Christ suffered during his crucifixtion
A woman touches the glass coffin containing the body of the popular Italian saint during his display in Rome
Monks open the hearse door to display the coffin after it arrived in Rome yesterday from San Giovanno, in southern Italy
The remains of San Pio, better known as Padre Pio, arrived in Rome yesterday ahead of a series of Jubilee events
Pope Francis asked for his body to be displayed in the Vatican for the celebrations, which are based on the theme of mercy
Pilgrims in San Lorenzo Basilica, Rome, gather around the body of Padre Pio, who took thousands of confessions during his lifetime
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3429917/Body-mystic-monk-crystal-coffin-goes-road-Holy-Year.html#ixzz3zOtcwVBd
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