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The controversy over Padre Pio’s “incorrupt” body

I once posted the photo that opens this article in my Instagram, saying it is the mask that covers the partially decomposed face of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. That simple information triggered disappointment, comments doubting the quality of our sources and a lot of offended people.

Now see this curious fact: any Church authority has NEVER declared that Saint Pio’s body is miraculously incorrupt. However, several Catholic websites disseminate this “information” and lead millions of people to believe it.

So, in this article, we are going to undo this confusion by presenting the opinion of the VATICAN EXPERTS, on the body of our venerated Saint Pio.

Our source is an interview by Stefano Campanella, journalist, writer and director of Tele radio Padre Pio and Padre Pio TV, from Italy. The interviewees are the members of an expert committee appointed by the Ecclesiastical Court for this matter.



Who answers this question is Nazzareno Gabrielli, expert from the Vicariate of Rome for the conservation of saints, and biochemist at the service of the Holy See. Please note his level of authority: in addition to the body of Saint Pio, Gabrielli took care of the remains of Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint John XXIII, Pius IX and Pius X. Good enough, don’t you think?


Gabrielli explained that, when opening Padre Pio’s coffin, these conditions were verified:

  • the skin on the face still existed;
  • there were still ears and lips;
  • there was beard and mustache;
  • there were no more eyes or nose;
  • the head, trunk and pelvis were in good condition;
  • the lower limbs were very deteriorated.

What most surprised all members of the commission during the body examination was the absolute absence of bad odors.

According to the diocesan bishop Mons. Domenico D’Ambrosio, who accompanied the exhumation, the upper part of the skull was partially skeletal, the chin was perfect and the rest of the body was well preserved (Source: Il Tempo). In the photo below, you can see that the hands on Padre Pio’s body are quite deteriorated.



Yes, Padre Pio’s body received chemical treatment to remain preserved after exhumation. Gabrielli revealed that “a solution with a high concentration of formalin in alcohol” was applied. The procedure was completed with creosote, benzoic acid and turpentine essence.

The body was wrapped with bands soaked in an embalming chemical solution, except the head. Then it was placed on a mattress filled with silica gel to absorb moisture.

Finally, it was placed inside a transparent coffin with special technology: the air inside it was replaced by nitrogen, which prevents any oxidative process, inhibits the development of bacterial microflora and aerobic fungi.



Who answers this central question is Orazio Pennelli, a coroner. From 1977 to 2005 he was the health director of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Suffering Relief House), a hospital founded by Padre Pio:

I hope I won’t scandalize anyone by saying that human hope has been disappointed, but I think that intimately, each of us nurtures the idea that his body is incorruptible or at least that some supernatural sign has been discovered. Unfortunately, the natural transformations, despite maintaining their human face, annihilated all traces of the “sacred seals” that the Lord imprinted on the “body”, that for half a century involved the “true essence of the Cross” and that was the “crucifix of immense spiritual gifts “.

In other words: intimately, he has the hope that there is some supernatural factor in relation to Padre Pio’s remains. But as a scientist he has no evidence to say so.

That’s all, folks! Padre Pio was a man of astonishing holiness, with his life surrounded by intense suffering and humiliation. He also manifested several extraordinary gifts and performed many miracles.  Because of that, it is unnecessary to look for miracles in your remains and it does not help anyone to be a better Christian.

The Catholic faith is, in fact, call to the holiness in everyday life. There are numerous and beautiful supernatural events surrounding Catholicism – the Holy Shroud, for example, is a relic impossible to be explained by Science. We must always be prudent in relation to miracles that the Church does not confirm.


To read the full Stefano Campanella’s interview (in Italian) click here.

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