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The Pope greeting the faithful in Pietrelcina The Pope greeting the faithful in Pietrelcina  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis at Pietrelcina: Preserve Christian testimony of Padre Pio

Pope Francis on Saturday began his pastoral visit in the footsteps of Padre Pio by greeting the faithful in Pietrelcina, the Italian town were the Saint grew up. Against the backdrop of an image of the young friar the Pope encouraged them to “preserve as a precious treasure the Christian and priestly testimony of Saint Pio."

In his remarks to the faithful and the Capuchin community gathered in the square in front of the liturgical hall of Piana Romana to greet him, Pope Francis recalled Padre Pio’s early life in Pietrelcina and his admission into the Capuchin Friars Minor where he said this friar “meditated with intensity on the mystery of God who loved us so as to give Himself for us.”

The Pope noted that this Capuchin never forgot his roots or his family but he also said that these early years were not “an easy time for him: he was strongly tormented in his heart and he feared falling into sin, feeling assaulted by the devil”.

Pope Francis also highlighted how Padre Pio, "loved the Church, he loved the Church with all its problems, all its troubles, all our sins. Because we are all sinners, we are ashamed, but the Spirit of God has called us into this Church that is holy. And he loved the holy Church and sinful children, all of them. This was Saint Pio" he said.

Suffering and prayer

The Pontiff went on to say that, “in those terrible moments Padre Pio drew vital life from the continuous prayer and trust he placed in the Lord.”  The Saint, recalled Pope Francis, “immersed himself in prayer to adhere ever better to divine designs. Through the celebration of Holy Mass, which was the heart of every day and the fullness of his spirituality, he reached a high level of union with the Lord. During this period, he received special mystical gifts from above, which preceded the manifestation in his flesh of the signs of the Passion of Christ.”

This humble Capuchin friar, underlined the Pope, “amazed the world with a life devoted to prayer and to patiently listening to his brothers, on whose sufferings he poured out the love of Christ like a balm. Imitating his heroic example and his virtues, he continued, “may you also become instruments of Jesus' love for the weakest.”

Digressing from his prepared text the Pontiff urged those gathered to refrain from arguing or gossiping because, he said, it doesn’t help you grow or move ahead in life.

Christian testimony

Concluding his words, Pope Francis expressed the hope that “this territory”, as he called it,  would “be able to draw new life from the teachings of the life of Padre Pio in a difficult time like the present one, where the population gradually decreases and ages because many young people are forced to go elsewhere to look for work.”

He also prayed that the intercession of Padre Pio would give young generations concrete perspectives for a future of hope and he invited young people to listen to the wisdom of the elderly. Then he quipped, "I would like once give the Nobel Prize to the elderly who give memory to humanity."


96/5000I encourage this land, said Pope Francis to preserve as a precious treasure the Christian and priestly testimony of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

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17 March 2018, 08:26