For a long time I have heard about this site on Rt. 40, so it was time to pay it a visit. What is a better time than to visit at night? Yup, I wanted the full experience. It was dark, the lights were on and music was playing… No one was around. There was even a gift shop that said it was open.
This is an outdoor shrine made for the Pio of Pietrelcina aka Padre Pio who was born in southern Italy. Padre Pio went to train with the priesthood at a very young age, as young as fifteen years old, some records state. When he was 17, he became very ill, his prayers would be trance-like and priests would claim that they could hear him roaring and screaming in his room at night. One even claimed to have seem him levitate.
As he got older, his health worsened at he started showing signs of the Stigmata. To put it simply, Stigmata are the markings found on the body resembling wounds from the crucifixion of Christ which Christians believe is a symbol of holiness. Many people who were canonized into Sainthood were also known to have similar markings (St. Francis Assisi). Physicians would study him and could not come up with a reasonable answer to why he had these markings. Padre Pio is reported to have had the power to heal others and could bilocate, appearing in two different places at the same time.
Also, some unworldly accounts are that of Padre Pio’s death. His lifeless body appeared unwounded, with no sign of scarring or any injuries. His body was flawless as if these occurrences/wounds never happened. There was a report that doctors who examined his body found it empty of all his blood. He was a very devout Christian and meditator of prayer and is famous for saying, “Unite yourself to my prayers.” Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.
Italian-American farmers from Buena came up with the idea and collaborated with local architect, Ron Angelo. Funds were raised to buy a few acres and the rest is history. The site was completed in 2002. Since it’s opening, people have said they have been a witness to miracles occurring with folks who pray here. One report is that someone was cured of cancer and another, a brain tumor. Members of the site are raising funds to eventually build a church on this property.
It’s another intriguing site here in South Jersey that makes us special…
Until our next adventure, my friends!