On Monday, 3 May, the day after the beatification
of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the Holy Father addressed a large gathering of pilgrims who
had come to Rome for the event. "What a consolation to feel we have Padre Pio close
to us, one who only wanted to be "a poor friar who prays': a brother of Christ,
a brother of Francis, a brother of the suffering, a brother of each one of us. May his
help guide us on the way of the Gospel and make us ever more generous in following Christ!",
the Pope said. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. It is a great joy for me to meet you again in this square which yesterday witnessed an
event you waited so long for: the beatification of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Today
is the day of thanksgiving.
The solemn Eucharistic celebration, at which Cardinal Angelo Sodano, my
Secretary of State, presided, ended a short while ago. I offer him a cordial greeting,
which I extend to each of the other Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as to the many
priests and faithful taking part.
Dear Capuchin Friars, I embrace you with special affection, as I do the
other members of the great Franciscan family who are praising the Lord for the marvels he
worked in the humble friar of Pietrelcina, an exemplary follower of the Poor Man of
Many of you, dear pilgrims, are members of prayer groups founded by Padre
Pio: I greet you affectionately together with all the other faithful who, prompted
by their devotion to the new blessed, have wished to be here on this joyful occasion.
Lastly, I would like to extend a special greeting to all the sick: you were dear to
Padre Pio's heart and work; thank you for your treasured presence!
2. Divine Providence wanted Padre Pio to be beatified on the eve of the
Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, as a dramatic century draws to a close. What is the
message that the Lord would like to offer to believers and to all humanity with this event
of major spiritual importance?
Padre Pio's witness, which is evident from his life and even from his
physical condition, suggests to us that this message coincides with the essential meaning
of the Jubilee now close at hand: Jesus is the one Saviour of the world. In him
God's mercy was made flesh in the fullness of time, to bring salvation to humanity
mortally wounded by sin. "By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pt 2: 24),
the blessed father repeated to all in the words of the Apostle Peter, he whose body was
marked with those wounds.
A man of prayer and suffering who bore the Lord's wounds
In 60 years of religious life, practically all spent at San Giovanni
Rotondo, he was totally dedicated to prayer and to the ministry of reconciliation and
spiritual direction. This was well emphasized by the Servant of God Pope Paul VI:
"Look what fame he had.... But why?... Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions
from dawn to dusk and was ... the one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of
prayer and suffering" (20 February 1971).
Totally absorbed in God, always bearing the marks of Jesus' Passion in his
body, he was bread broken for men and women starving for God the Father's forgiveness. His
stigmata, like those of Francis of Assisi, were the work and sign of divine mercy, which
redeemed the world by the Cross of Jesus Christ. Those open, bleeding wounds spoke of
God's love for everyone, especially for those sick in body and spirit.
3. And what can be said of his life, an endless spiritual combat,
sustained by the weapons of prayer, centred on the sacred daily acts of Confession and
Mass? Holy Mass was the heart of his whole day, the almost anxious concern of all his
hours, his moment of closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. He felt called to
share in Christ's agony, an agony which continues until the end of the world.
Dear friends, in our time, when we are still under the illusion that
conflicts can be resolved by violence and superior strength, and frequently give in to the
temptation to abuse the force of arms, Padre Pio repeats what he once said:
"What a dreadful thing war is! In every person wounded in the flesh, there is Jesus
suffering". Nor should we fail to note that both his works the "House for the
Relief of Suffering" and the prayer groups were conceived by him in 1940, as the
catastrophe of the Second World War loomed in Europe. He was not idle, but from his
secluded friary in Gargano he responded with prayer, works of mercy and love for God and
neighbour. And today, from heaven, he is telling everyone again that this is the authentic
way of peace.
4. The prayer groups and the "House for the Relief of
Suffering": these are two significant "gifts" which Padre Pio has
left us. Conceived and desired by him as a hospital for the sick poor, the "House for
the Relief of Suffering" was planned from the start as a health-care facility open to
everyone, but this was no reason for it to be less equipped than other hospitals. Indeed,
Padre Pio wanted it to have most advanced scientific and technological equipment, so that
it would be a place of authentic hospitality, loving respect and effective treatment for
every suffering person. Is it not a true miracle of Providence that it continues to grow
in accordance with its founder's spirit?
As for the prayer groups, he wanted them to be like beacons of light and
love in the world. He longed for many souls to join him in prayer: "Pray",
he used to say, "pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayers. And
every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray, pray to the Lord
together, because God too needs our prayers!". It was his intention to create an army
of praying people who would be a "leaven" in the world by the strength of
prayer. And today the whole Church is grateful to him for this precious legacy, admires
the holiness of her son and invites everyone to follow his example.