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Padre Pio's 50-Year-Old Corpse Is Paraded Through The Streets Of Rome Wearing A Silicone Mask

06/02/2016 16:56 | Updated 06 February 2016

A 50-year-old corpse wearing a silicone mask was paraded through the streets of Rome on Saturday, cheered on by thousands of onlookers who took pictures of the dead body as it made its way to the Vatican.

The mortal remains of Catholic monk Saint Pio da Pietralcina, which were exhumed, embalmed and given facial reconstruction in 2008, were taken to St Peter’s Basilica to be blessed by Pope Francis, part of a celebration for the Catholic jubilee.

padre pio

The body of Padre Pio on display in Rome on Saturday

Speaking over the corpse on Saturday, Francis called Pio a "servant of mercy."

"He did so full-time, practicing, at times in exhaustion, the apostolate of listening,” the pontiff reflected.

Pio's bearded form, which is usually interred in San Giovanni Rotondo in the south of the country, has become a tourist attraction for the Foggia region, drawing more than a million visitors annually.

The corpse is held in such high regard due to unsubstantiated claims that before death the monk was able to cure the sick. He also allegedly received visions and suffered stigmata -- bleeding from the hands mimicking the wounds of Christ. Pio could also tell the future and be in two places at once, though this remains unverified.

The monk died in 1968 at the age of 81. He was beatified in 1999, and canonised in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Pio's body is to go on display in the Vatican in a climate controlled crystal coffin until Feb. 11. A second dead body, that of Croatian Leopold Mandic, who died in 1942, will also be available for viewing at the Basilica.

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man reaches for the box containing the mortal remains of Saint Pio da Pietrelcina as they are exposed in Rome's San Lorenzo Basilica, as part of the Roman Catholic Church 2016 special jubilee celebrations, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina is carried in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Cardinal Angelo Comastri, right, prays in front of the box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina laid in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina is carried in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina, left, and of Saint Leopoldo Mandic are displayed to faithful inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The boxes containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina, top, and of Saint Leopoldo Mandic are carried in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina is carried inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina is carried in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A baby is lifted by a monk near the box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A baby is lifted by a monk near the box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Faithful pray near the box containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The boxes containing the corpse of Saint Pio da Pietralcina, left, and of Saint Leopoldo Mandic are displayed to faithful inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

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