St Padre Pio (1887-1968), a Capuchin Franciscan Friar, is one of the greatest saints of all times. He is well known in the world for his spiritual gifts: Stigmata, Healing, Prophecy, Reading of hearts, Levitation, Bilocation, Apparition, and “odour of sanctity”. He is a great miracle-worker and a powerful intercessor. Often he has been referred to as “the greatest mystic of the 20th Century.”
His feast is celebrated on 23rd of September. At Padre Pio Friary, Moddi, Navelim, the feast of the great intercessor is celebrated with much devotion and pomp. Thousands flock for novenas and for feast to receive special blessings from God through the powerful St Padre Pio. This year the feast Mass timings are: 6.30 am, 8.00 am and 5.30 am.
St Padre Pio had an astonishingly unconditional, total, perennial, unwavering love and devotion to the Virgin Mary, particularly through the Holy Rosary. He would call her in many different ways: Maria, Madonna, Mamma, Madre, Madonnella etc. He knew the importance Our Lady plays in the life of every Christian and knew the importance the Rosary plays in the hands of us Christians. Padre Pio called the Rosary a weapon, because that’s exactly what it is. Concerning the Rosary, Our Lady herself said to Padre Pio: “With this weapon you will win.” Padre Pio states that “The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ against Satan for these times, a weapon of defense and salvation.”
“The Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon; use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results” (St. Josemaria Escriva). Blessed Pope Pius IX said “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world”.
As Catholics, we know that the prayers of the Holy Rosary are more than just repetitious words. If we truly focus on the meditations of the mysteries, we examine deep into the heart of the Gospel of truth. Some might still be thinking “Why the Rosary?” The simple answer is because it’s powerful, and the very ‘gates of hell’ tremble when the Rosary is prayed fervently. The Rosary is the Gospel on a chain. It is a tangible sign that we are connected to Jesus Christ. When I touch my Rosary, I know that Mary is connecting me to her Son. Padre Pio once said: “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.”
Only two weeks after his election, Pope St. John Paul II frankly admitted: “The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth.”
The Rosary was part and parcel of Padre Pio’s love for the Mother of Jesus. He used this prayer to maintain and nourish his love of Mary. But he also used it as a most powerful intercessory aid for obtaining from God the help that he needed for himself and that he sought for others. Padre Pio’s devotion to the Virgin Mary was rooted in the truth that Jesus specifically wills such devotion. Jesus chose to come to earth through Mary. Similarly, Jesus chooses that we come to Him through her; for Her soul magnifies the Lord. Padre Pio said many times: “I wish I had a voice loud enough to tell all the sinners of the world to love Mary. She is the ocean across which one must travel in order to reach Jesus.” Above Padre Pio’s door were the words: “Mary is the reason of all my hope.”
For us who face many trials these days in our world, St Pio of Pietrelcina is one of the saints we must turn to for prayers and guidance. He faced his trials and sufferings head on through prayer, the Holy Eucharist, and the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Always remember these words from him – “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry.” The Catholic Church has only known the Rosary for about more than 800 years. Since then the Catholic Church has encouraged all the faithful to pray the Rosary because it is the prayer of the Madonna, the one that triumphs on everything and everybody. The Rosary has been the seat belt that we need in these times of turbulence. If prayed devoutly in our families, it will certainly bring calmness and serenity; and will built bridges of understanding, friendship and fellowship in our troubled society. Mary has recommended the Rosary at Lourdes and Fatima because of its exceptional value for us and our times.”
God teaches all of us through the lives of His faithful servants. These lives are beacons set on a mountain for all to see, that all may be guided by them. Many know Mary only with their minds. Padre Pio knew her with his heart. There is no doubt either that he gained this knowledge of the heart through the constant praying of the Rosary. There is no doubt either that if he could speak to us at this very moment he would invite us to seek this same knowledge of the heart through the same simple means so dear to him, the Rosary. Padre Pio, pray for us!
Fr Steve Rodrigues OFM Cap.