Pope Presents St. Pio as "Model of Spirituality and Humanity"

Recalls Legacy of Capuchin Friar

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A day after Padre Pio´s canonization, John Paul II proposed him as «model of spirituality and humanity» for the world.

Meeting today in Paul VI Hall with thousands of pilgrims who came to Rome for the canonization, the Pope reviewed the lessons of life left by the Capuchin friar (1887-1968).

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was the 462nd saint proclaimed by this pontificate, and is among the most loved throughout the world. The Shrine of San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy, where Padre Pio lived, receives over 6 million pilgrims a year. It is now third in terms of visits by the faithful, after the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico and the Vatican.

«What is the secret of so much admiration and love for this new saint?» the Holy Father asked. «Above all, he is a ´friar of the people,´ a traditional characteristic of Capuchins. Moreover, he is a holy miracle-worker, as proved by the extraordinary events that filled his life. However, above all, he was a religious who was sincerely in love with the crucified Christ.»

«In the course of his life he participated in the mystery of the cross, including physically,» the Pope said.

Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II, visited the friar in 1947, and went to confession to him in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Padre Pio followed this path «in profound communion with the Church,» the Pontiff clarified. «He was not hindered in this filial obedience by momentary misunderstandings with one or another ecclesial authority.»

In fact, Padre Pio endured investigations and restrictions in the exercise of his priestly ministry, imposed by the Holy Office, because of false accusations by people who were resentful of his extraordinary impact on others. In particular, the Holy Father proposed the new saint as a model for every priest, singling out «Padre Pio´s Mass!»

«The Holy Mass was the heart and source of his all spirituality,» John Paul II emphasized.

«St. Pio of Pietrelcina appears before all of us — priests, religious and laity — as a credible witness of Christ and his Gospel,» the Pope continued. «His example and intercession encouraged every one to live with an ever greater love for God and in concrete solidarity with one´s neighbor, especially the neediest.»

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