The developing Padre Pio phenomenon

Posted on April 23, 2008


One of the things that I find interesting is the cases where superstition and religion meet up. The Catholic miracle sites such as Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje, are prime examples of this with each having a large number of superstitious beliefs associated with them, the particular beliefs often appearing to be fairly similar in content. Each of these sites is relatively young when compared to how long Christianity has existed: Medjugorje since 1981, Fatima since 1917 and Lourdes, the oldest, since 1858. This, in itself, suggests an interesting avenue for research into what the ‘developmental path’ of such sites is, the comparison being with much older pilgrimage sites that not longer seem to have such a big focus on local superstitions – Czestochowa in Poland and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, being two.

Another possible interesting comparison, or additional example, might be provided by the cult around Father Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy. It seems that a new church to hold the thousands of pilgrims has been built there and Father Pio’s remains have been dug up and placed within the church to draw in further crowds. A number of studies suggest themselves as to the effect this will have upon the popularity of the cult as well as on the appearance of new superstitions focussed on the dead priest. BBC News has a short article on the recent developments there.