IN one of the largest liturgies in the Vatican’s history, Pope John Paul II last Sunday canonised the popular Italian mystic, Padre Pio da Pietralcina, and said the Capuchin friar’s spirituality of suffering was a valuable model for modern times.
Underscoring his message, the Pope announced at the end of the Mass that he was making Padre Pio’s September 23 feast day an ‘obligatory memorial’ on the Church’s general liturgical calendar, a rank shared by only one other 20th century saint.
More than 300,000 people filled St Peter’s Square and surrounding streets in sweltering heat.
In his homily, the Pope said the holiness of Padre Pio – who was well known for bearing the stigmata, or bleeding wounds of Christ – could not be understood without the friar’s attachment to asceticism and the crucified Christ’s suffering.
‘The life and mission of Padre Pio give testimony that difficulty and suffering, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged path of sanctity, opening toward a larger good that is known only to the Lord,’ he said.
Padre Pio’s ‘spirituality of the cross’ was still valid today, the Pope added.
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