Saint's heart goes on display for 1st time outside Italy

The heart of a celebrated Roman Catholic saint is being publicly displayed this week — the first time the religious relic has left Italy.

Hundreds of the faithful are expected to line up Wednesday at the Immaculate Conception Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a glimpse of the heart of St. Padre Pio.

Honoring the relics of saints is an ancient practice in the Roman Catholic faith.

St. Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar best known for possessing the Stigmata, or wounds of Jesus Christ. He died in Foggia, Italy, in 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

The heart also will be displayed in Boston later this week as part of the run-up to the saint's feast day on Friday.