San Giovanni Rotondo
The beautiful city San Giovanni Rotondo (San Giovanni Rotondo) is the Italian commune, which is located in the province Foggia (Foggia), in the region Apulia (Puglia). The city was founded in 1095 on the site of the ruins of the village, dated the fourth century; some parts of the village, such as some graves and a circular baptistery, have survived.
The patron saint of the city is St. Giovanni Battista (San Giovanni Battista); and the city is named in his honour. Nevertheless, the city gained the worldwide fame thanks to the monk Padre Pio (Padre Pio), who lived in the Franciscan-Capuchin Monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo. Padre Pio was living in this monastery for more than 50 years. When he was thirty, stigmata, like those, which had been on the hands of Christ the Saviour during the crucifixion, appeared on his hands. Those wounds caused much pain and did not disappear until the end of his life. At first, nobody believed in this miracle, and the Vatican did not recognise the stigmata of Padre Pio. Specialists examined those injuries very often; still, none of them was able to diagnose their origin. Padre Pio worked miracles, due to which the city and the monastery became world-famous. Padre Pio built the hospital “The Home for the Relief of Suffering” (Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza) in the city. St. Pio had died in 1968 and after his death the wounds were gone.
The remains of Padre Pio are kept in the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo. Pilgrims constantly come to see the relics of Padre Pio. Due to this fact San Giovanni Rotondo was transformed into a tourist city.
One should also mention wonderful attractions of the city San Giovanni Rotondo. The most famous ones include the Monastic Complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Complesso Conventuale Santa Maria delle Grazie), comprising the Capuchin Monastery (Monastero dei Cappuccini), Old and New Churches – dedicated to the Virgin Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Old Church was built on the plot of land, given by Antonio Landi. New Church was built on the insistent request of Padre Pio, in order to hold the increasing number of pilgrims, who came to the city San Giovanni Rotondo.
The architect Giuseppe Gentile (Giuseppe Gentile) designed the church. The work began in 1956, and in 1959 the church was consecrated. The central nave is decorated with the stunning mosaic, depicting the Virgin Madonna delle Grazie. The body of Padre Pio lies in the crypt of the ground floor. In 2008, the body of Padre Pio was moved into the glass coffin, to enable pilgrims to see it. The Church of St. Pio was built on request of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (Ordine dei frati minori cappuccini). The work was almost entirely paid for with the donations of pilgrims. The area of the church is six thousand square meters; it can accommodate more than seven thousand pilgrims.
Speaking about the other churches of historical merit, the Church of Saint Onofrio Anchorite (Chiesa di Sant'Onofrio Anacoreta), Church of St. Ursula (Chiesa di Sant'Orsola), Church of St. John the Baptist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista) as well as many others are worth visiting.
In San Giovanni Rotondo there are many pieces of art and architecture such as Canaviglia Palace (Canaviglia), Verne's Palace (Palazzo Verna), built in the 17th century, the towers, the gate of the city wall, the Winged Victory Monument, the Padre Pio Monument and, certainly, the famous street Way of the Cross (Via Crucis), there you can find 16 statues, made of bronze, and one, made of Carrara marble.
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