'You are not alone in your suffering,' papal nuncio assures Padre Pio devotees
BATANGAS, Philippines – "Pray, hope, and don't worry."
An immortal quote by Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, it is a reminder displayed at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas – the site of a historic visit to the Philippines this month.
The Batangas shrine was the first stop of the incorrupt heart relic of Padre Pio, which is set to be brought around the Philippines from October 5 to 26.
"Pray, hope, and don't worry" was also one of the lessons cited by the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, in a Mass at the Padre Pio shrine on Saturday, October 6.
Caccia presided over the 9 am Mass at the shrine on Saturday, the first full day of Padre Pio's heart relic in the Philippines.
In his homily, the papal nuncio stressed the value of faith in the face of suffering, especially among the sick.
"I see many sick people here with us. Let Padre Pio's loving heart assure you that you are not alone in your suffering," Caccia said.
"You are united with the sufferings of Christ, which always lead to the Resurrection, our greatest hope and consolation," he continued.
Caccia pointed out that Padre Pio himself "was a man whose heart bore numerous sufferings and trial throughout his life with great patience."
Padre Pio's stigmata
One of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church, Padre Pio was said to have carried the stigmata or the physical wounds of Christ. He died on September 23, 1968, and his incorrupt body is on display to this day in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. (READ: FAST FACTS: Who is Saint Padre Pio?)
"His unity with the suffering of the Lord became even more concrete when on September 20, 1918, while doing his thanksgiving prayer after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side," Caccia recounted.
"He also suffered the calumnies received from ecclesiastical personalities and authorities. On two occasions (1924 and 1931), the authenticity of the stigmata was put into question. He was prohibited from celebrating the Holy Mass publicly and from hearing confessions. Inspite of all these, Padre Pio obeyed without complaining and maintained his calm. Soon after, these prohibitions were lifted."
In a touching scene after the Mass, Padre Pio devotees flocked to Caccia outside the church building, as they sought blessings and forms of healing.
"Thank you," a crying man on a wheelchair whispered to the Pope's representative who blessed him.
Police estimated at least 32,000 devotees in the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas, as of 9 am on Saturday.
Padre Pio's heart relic is expected to draw thousands more devotees as it is brought to Manila, Cebu, Davao, and back to Batangas in the coming days. – Rappler.com