A SAINT who was cannonised for his God-given 'stigmata' wounds was a fraudster who used carbolic acid to create the bloody injuries, a new book claims.
The hands of Italian monk Padre Pio bled constantly for 50 years and he wore gloves to cover them.
He claimed the wounds on his palms represented the nails in Jesus' hands and were a sign from God.
He also boasted of miraculous healing powers and was venerated by millions.
The Catcholic Church accepted the stigmata miracle and he was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
But new evidence shows he was a con-man who used corrosive carbolic acid to inflict his hand injuries on himself.
The papers include a letter from an Italian pharmacist who had arranged to deliver the acid.
The documents, stored in libraries at the Vatican, were unearthed by Professor Sergio Luzzatto, an eminent Italian historian.
In "Padre Pio: Miracle and Politics in a Secular Age", he said many Popes had called into question Pio's claims.
He claimed the Vatican declared Pio a saint only because of pressure from the public to do so.
Luzzatto said: "Human beings — and particularly the most fragile among them — will still need to look at figures such as Padre Pio to get, if not miracles, then at least consolation and hope."