Padre Pio passed away on September 23, 1968.
He lived a holy life and died a holy death. The following is the remarkable story of his last days:
Padre Pio’s health steadily declined during the last years of his life. In 1968, the year that Padre Pio died, Father Carmelo, the superior of the monastery, was keenly aware of Padre Pio’s deteriorating condition. He told Padre Pio that he did not want him to overtax himself and that he could dispense with hearing confessions if he wanted to. But Padre Pio would not even consider it. He never wanted to “retire” from his priestly ministry.
He wanted to work right up until the end and that is exactly what he did. A few days before his death, although weak and extremely ill, he insisted on hearing confessions. “He desired to die on his feet, at his place of work, after a day spent with others in prayer and in his ministry for good,” Father Carmelo said.
The Capuchins who lived with Padre Pio observed the decrease in his physical strength in his later years. On one occasion, Padre Rosario gave Padre Pio a Rosary as a gift. Shortly after, Padre Pio returned it to him. He explained that it was too heavy and he did not have the strength to hold it. Padre Rosario said, “He seemed always at the extreme limits of his strength and he was in constant expectation of death.”
When saying goodnight, Padre Pio often asked his Capuchin brothers to recommend him to the Lord because he was not sure if he would be alive in the morning. “Padre Pio was not frightened of death, but he felt it looking over his shoulder, ready to snatch him away,” Padre Rosario said.