Beloved Italian Saint Exhumed
Padre Pio unearthed overnight to duck protests, legal challenge
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2008 4:25 PM CST

(Newser) – One of Italy's most revered saints was exhumed without warning Sunday night, evading protesters and preempting a legal challenge, the Guardian reports. The body of Padre Pio was "in surprisingly good condition," said the archbishop of Puglia, where the saint's shrine draws millions of visitors every year. "The chin is perfect and the rest of the body is well preserved."

A group loyal to Padre Pio filed a legal complaint yesterday that called the exhumation "tomb violation." The church has hidden the body and plans to restore it for display next month as part of the observation of the 40th anniversary of Padre Pio's death. Pope Benedict is likely to attend, and a hotline to reserve viewings is already overloaded, the Times of London reports.