Mesaritou, “He is among us, get it into your head, he is alive and always here”

Mesaritou, Evgenia. 2015. ‘He is among us, get it into your head, he is alive and always here’: saintly presence at the pilgrimage centre of Padre Pio and the importance of ‘being there’ Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal. DOI: 10.1080/14755610.2015.1019896

Abstract: The paper will focus upon the issue of saintly presence and the ways in which this is felt, experienced and enacted at the pilgrimage centre of Padre Pio. This issue will be examined in relation to the material and spatial structures of the pilgrimage centre and in particular the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, at the crypt of which the tomb of Padre Pio was until recently emplaced. In examining the issue of saintly presence in relation to the sanctuary’s materiality, the paper will also explore the relationship of two of the dimensions Eade and Sallnow ([1991] 2000, ‘Introduction’, in Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage., 2nd ed., edited by John Eade and Michael J. Sallnow, 1–29, Urbana: University of Illinois) propose for the examination of pilgrimage, namely person and place. Drawing on ethnographic data gathered during fieldwork (2004–2005), it will argue that the feeling of saintly presence is mainly generated by the knowledge people have of Padre Pio having lived and being buried there. This knowledge shapes their pilgrimage experience.

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