|Holy Father's Regina Coeli After
Our Lady and recite the Rosary
After celebrating the solemn Mass on Sunday,
2 May, in which Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was beatified, the Holy Father went to the loggia
of the Basilica of St John Lateran to greet the over 100,000 pilgrims gathered in the
square below who had followed the ceremony on large-screen televisions. The Pope led them
in the recitation of the Regina Coeli, which he introduced with a short reflection
on Padre Pio's love of the Blessed Mother. He also appealed for peace in the Balkans and
in Africa, calling upon Catholics throughout the world to implore Our Lady for peace and
forgiveness especially during the month of May. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's
remarks, which were made in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. The solemn Eucharistic liturgy in which I had the
joy of beatifying Padre Pio of Pietrelcina has ended in St Peter's Square. I am now
pleased to be here with you who have come from various parts of Italy and the world to
this Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano to pay homage to the new blessed and to show him your
affection. Together with you I would like cordially to greet the many faithful who have
gathered in prayer at the friary of the Capuchin Friars in San Giovanni Rotondo and those
who are following the beatification ceremony on radio and television. This is a great and
moving display of faith that enables us to experience concretely the reality of the
Church, the family of God, which rejoices today in the holiness of one of her generous and
By his teaching and example, Padre Pio invites us to
pray, to receive divine mercy through the sacrament of Penance and to love our neighbour.
He invites us, in particular, to love and venerate the Virgin Mary. His devotion to Our
Lady was apparent in every aspect of his life: in his words and writings, in his
teaching and in the advice he gave to his many spiritual children. A true son of St
Francis of Assisi, from whom he learned to call upon Mary with splendid expressions of
praise and love (cf. "Greeting to the Virgin", in Fonti Francescane, 59),
the new blessed never tired of teaching the faithful a tender and profound devotion to Our
Lady that was rooted in the Church's authentic tradition. In the privacy of the
confessional, as in his preaching, he continually urged the faithful: love Our Lady!
At the end of his earthly life, when the time came to express his last wishes, he turned
his thoughts, as he had done throughout his life, to Blessed Mary: "Love Our
Lady and help others to love her. Always recite the Rosary"
2. With deep sorrow and concern my thoughts turn
again today to nearby Yugoslavia, and my affection embraces everyone there who is weeping,
suffering and dying. Once again I raise my voice to beg in the name of God that that
oppression of man by man may cease, that the tools of destruction and death be stopped and
that every possible channel be opened for aiding those who have been forced to leave their
lands amid unspeakable atrocities. May dialogue be resumed, with that intelligence and
creativity which God has given man to resolve tensions and conflicts and to build a
society based on proper respect for every human being.
With all my strength I invite you, brothers and
sisters, to pray intensely throughout this month of May, imploring Our Lady for the gift
of peace in the Balkans and in the all too many places in the world where violence reigns,
fomented by prejudice and hatred towards those who have different ethnic
convictions and political ideas. In addition to the Balkans, my thoughts turn to Africa,
the continent now drenched in blood by the greatest number of wars: power struggles,
ethnic conflicts and indifference to others are slowly choking it.
During this month of May may prayers be organized in
every Diocese to implore the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Peace, with one voice in the Church
so that in the Balkans, on the African continent and in every part of the world
peacemakers may burgeon who will forget their own interests and be willing to work for the
May Padre Pio, a most loving son of the "Queen
of Heaven", intercede for us and for all, so that sentiments of forgiveness,
reconciliation and peace may flow from human hearts at the end of this millennium and the
beginning of the new, third millennium, for which we are preparing.