Like Saints? How about corpses? If you answered 'yes' to one to at least one of those questions, then the Italian town of Puglia is the place for you. Religious officials have announced that the earthly remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina , better known as Padre Pio, will be exhumed later this month. Ostensibly, Pio is being dug up so the Church can figure out the best way to preserve his body for future generations to enjoy. And in the meantime, pilgrims will get an opportunity to gawk at a 40 year-old corpse.
This all seems a bit undignified, particularly since Padre Pio allegedly put up with a lot while alive. Attacks by the devil (including one where he appeared as a group of naked dancing women, leading some scholars to believe he had, in fact, been watching late-night Cinemax) and a bout of stigmata topped a long list of earthly travails. Man, brother finally gets a little rest and they want to dig him up.
Not surprisingly, some Pio supporters are none-too-pleased with the exhumation plan. Calling it a grave 'profanation', they're planning court action to prevent the big dig.
Pio's tomb already receives some 7 million visitors every year, and local tourism officials are no doubt bracing for an additional surge when 'corpse craziness' sets in. Apparently, Padre Pio is also the patron saint for the relief of stress and the 'new year's blues'. If that's the case, I may make the pilgrimage myself and see if he can do something about my holiday Visa bill.
Padre Pio. Odds are good he doesn't look this friendly anymore, what with all the decomposition.