.- The Capuchin friars of San Giovanni Rotondo have announced that St. Pio of Pietrelcina's body will be moved into the new church, adjacent to his current resting place on the Monastery grounds. Against the wishes of some, the transfer will take place on the afternoon of April 19.
The destination of St. Pio's body is the crypt of the new St. Pio Church. Adorned with mosaics that Pope Benedict described as "of an extraordinary beauty" when he blessed the church last June, the crypt will house the mortal remains of the Capuchin saint. Padre Pio's body has been in the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie since he was interred there in 1968.
Archbishop Michele Castoro of Manfredonia, Vieste, and San Giovanni Rotondo announced the date of the transfer along with other civil and religious leaders at a press conference on Wednesday.
News of the possible relocation has caused resistance from some. There are those against it because it falls on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election, others who say it will interfere with the election of a new superior within the Capuchin order in the area, and those who say that the new church is too luxurious for the simple friar.
Lawyer Francesco Traversi, president of the Pro Padre Pio Association, told the Italian publication La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno ahead of today's announcement that if the rumors were true it would be a "seriously offensive" action. A case brought by the association and a relative of St. Pio's to block the transfer of the body and verify that the body in the crypt is really that of the Capuchin friar is set to be reviewed by a local tribunal on April 22.