The Italian Almanac

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Padre Pio

Italian News - November 6

Italian Catholics turn to Padre Pio more than any other saint, according to a poll of church-goers. The monk with the stigmata, whose 2002 canonisation as 'San Pio' drew some 300,000 faithful to Rome, beat St Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost articles, by 31% to 25%.

Padre Pio's enduring popularity was no surprise to organisers of the poll for the top-selling Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana. But they were taken aback by how few of those polled asked the Madonna or Jesus for help - just 9% and 2% respectively.

Jesus placed just ahead of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to whom 1% turned when in need of practical or spiritual help. "Despite all their years of religious education our flock is extremely ignorant," said Father Tonino Lasconi, an expert on saints and religious teaching.

The poll, carried out ahead of All Saints Day, threw up other surprises. Only 37% remembered that St Catherine of Siena was Italy's patron, with 2% convinced it was a Spanish saint, St Teresa of Avila. However, a whopping 75% correctly picked St Francis as the male patron of the country.