The Pope at San Giovanni Rotondo Tomorrow

pioHere’s something I was surprised I hadn’t picked up on earlier, then realized that’s because it seems to have only been announced 4 days ago: Pope Benedict XVI will make a pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, famous as the home of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) tomorrow.

His schedule includes a private visit to pray before the relics of Padre Pio at the holy priest’s beloved Shrine of Santa Maria della Grazia; the celebration of Mass in the square in front of the church; a meeting with the sick and the doctors and employees at the hospital Padre Pio founded, which still goes by the name he gave it: the Home for the Relief of Suffering; and a meeting with priests, religious, and young people in the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. 

The Vatican has posted a helpful page, where the Pope’s homily and talks, as well as photos, will go up. EWTN will be covering the visit live, starting Sunday morning at 4 am EST. 

For some side reading, there’s also some generally thoughtful commentary, “Padre Pio, Pope Benedict: Soul Mates?”, published last year by Time magazine, comparing Pope John Paul II’s personal interest in Padre Pio (and in saints in general) with Pope Benedict’s.

And of course, there’s the original novena to St. Pio and an original Litany to St. Pio  in my Saints for Our Times: New Novenas and Prayers.

UPDATE: “Hundreds of thousands” gathered for the visit.   The Pope’s homily is here.  A clip:

As it was for Jesus, the real struggle, the radical combat Padre Pio had to sustain, was not against earthly enemies, but against the spirit of evil (cf. Ephesians 6, 12). The biggest “storms” that threatened him were the assaults of the devil, against which he defended himself with “the armor of God” with “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11,16,17). Remaining united to Jesus, he always kept in mind the depths of the human drama, and because of this he offered himself and offered his many sufferings, and he knew how to spend himself in the care and relief of the sick, a privileged sign of God’s mercy, of his kingdom which is coming, indeed, which is already in the world, of the victory of love and life over sin and death. Guide souls and relieve suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, as the servant of God, Pope Paul VI said about him: “He was a man of prayer and suffering” (To the Capuchin Chapter Fathers, 20 February 1971).

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