Hundreds visit relics of St. Pio at San Juan Basilica
People lined up since 6 a.m. on Tuesday outside the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan to get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see several relics of St. Pio, best known as "Padre Pio."
The relics on display included the priest's hair, dried up blood and a cape he once wore. Visitors brought rosaries and pictures of loved ones to be blessed and touched by the relics.
One visitor in line from Laredo said the trip was worth it - praying at the relics of a priest who the Vatican says gave so much to his own parishioners in life.
"I’m just walking and I’m praying for all my friends and family [and] for peace in the world," said Veronica Peña from Laredo.
"The presence of the relics of a saint, someone who was in the world not that many years ago and now is in heaven overseeing for us,” said Fr. Jorge Gómez, rector for the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan. “I think that's what people are looking for, in the midst of all this crazy world that we're living in."
Saint Pio, who died in 1968, was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. That didn't happen after years of controversy in the early 20th century where the Vatican investigated reported miracles and eventually led to Father Pio's canonization.
The Franciscan friar was also known to have had stigmata--wounds on his hands similar to those that Christ had when he was crucified.
At the end of the last mass on Tuesday, the relics were packed up to be sent back to New York.