ON PADRE PIO’S DEVOTION TO MARY
Dear brothers and sisters,
At the end of this solemn celebration, I invite you to pray with me — like every Sunday — the Marian prayer of the Angelus. But here in the sanctuary of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, we seem to hear his own voice, which urges us to address ourselves with childlike hearts to the Blessed Virgin: “Love the Blessed Virgin and help others love her.” So he kept saying to everyone, and more than his words was the testimony of his deep devotion to the Heavenly Mother. Baptized in the church of St. Mary of the Angels of Pietrelcina with the name of Francis, like the Poverello of Assisi, he always cultivated a most tender love for the Blessed Virgin. Providence later led him here, to San Giovanni Rotondo, near Our Lady of Grace Sanctuary, where he remained until his death and where his mortal remains rest. All his life and his apostolate took place, therefore, under the maternal gaze of the Madonna and the power of her intercession. He even considered the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza the work of Mary, “Health of the Sick.” Therefore, dear friends, in the example of Padre Pio, today I also want to entrust you all to the maternal protection of the Mother of God. In a special way I invoke her for the community of the Capuchin Friars, for the sick of the hospital, and for those who with love care for them, as well as for the prayer groups that carry out the continuing spiritual work of your holy founder in Italy and worldwide.
To the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Pio of Pietrelcina I would like to entrust especially this Priestly Year, which I inaugurated last Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May it be a privileged opportunity to highlight the value of the mission and of the holiness of priests at the service of the Church and of all humanity of the third millennium!
We pray today for the difficult and sometimes dramatic situation of refugees. It was just yesterday that we celebrated World Refugee Day, sponsored by the United Nations. There are many people who seek refuge in other countries fleeing from situations of war, persecution and disasters, and their acceptance poses many difficulties, but it is nevertheless a duty. God grant that, with the commitment of all, we will do as much as possible to remove the causes of so sad a phenomenon.
With great affection I greet all the pilgrims present here. I express my gratitude to the civil authorities and to all those who collaborated in the preparation of my visit. Thank you very much! To all I repeat: walk on the path that Padre Pio has laid out for you, the path of holiness according to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. On this path Virgin Mary will always precede you, and with a mother’s hand she will guide you to the heavenly homeland.
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An address delivered by a visiting Pope Benedict XVI after Mass, before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the Church of San Pio de Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, last JUNE 21, 2009. translated by zenit.org