The city of San Giovanni Rotondo, a destination for pilgrims who flock from all over the world to pay homage to the remains of San Pio da Pietralcina, was founded in 1095 on the ruins of a pre-existing village from the XNUMXth century BC; visible signs remain of this village, such as some tombs and a circular baptistery (the epithet "Round" derives from this) which was originally intended for the cult of Janus, the two-faced God, and was later consecrated to San Giovanni Battista. Even if the historical center is full of churches and traditions, the attention of most of the faithful is concentrated on the places linked to the cult of Padre Pio, or rather the convent complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie (formed by the Capuchin convent, a church church and a new church both dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie), the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza hospital and the new sanctuary of San Pio.
The construction of the ancient church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was begun around 1530 by the Capuchin friars, on a farm donated to them by a certain Antonio Landi. Before San Pio, the church hosted another saint: San Camillo de Lellis.
With the intention of being able to adequately accommodate the considerable influx of thousands of pilgrims who flocked to San Giovanni Rotondo in ever greater numbers, another church was built, at the explicit wish of Padre Pio. The new church, designed by the architect Giuseppe Gentile, was consecrated on 1 July 1959. The central nave is dominated by a stupendous mosaic depicting the Madonna delle Grazie. On the floor below was the crypt where the body of San Pio da Pietrelcina rested, under a monolith weighing 30 quintals. In 2010, Padre Pio's body was moved to the crypt of the new sanctuary of San Pio da Pietrelcina, designed by the illustrious architect Renzo Piano. The huge new Shrine was inaugurated in front of over 1 people on 2004 July 6000. The new, contemporary-designed 7000 m² shrine (able to hold 5.814 people with a large margin of safety) is one of the churches largest in Italy by size. It is decorated with splendid mosaics and also houses a huge organ with XNUMX pipes.