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 “odor 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.
St.Padre Pio had an 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. He called the Rosary a weapon, because that’s exactly what it is. 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.”
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. 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.”
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 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 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 build bridges of understanding, friendship and fellowship in our troubled society.
God teaches all of us through the lives of His faithful servants. Many know Mary only with their minds. Padre Pio knew her with his heart. There is no doubt 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.
As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mercy on September 24, and as the month of October is dedicated to the Rosary, let us be closer to Jesus Christ by praying the Rosary devoutly in our families and in our personal lives. Padre Pio, pray for us!
Fr. Steve Rodrigues, Capuchin