Padre Pio: the second pillar of the Jubilee of Mercy

When I was a young boy discerning a priestly vocation, I belonged to a Padre Pio Prayer Group. In our meetings we would pray the Holy Rosary for the intention of Padre Pio’s beatification. I recall the excitement of making summer pilgrimages via a long bus ride from New York City to the rural Shrine in Washington, New Jersey.

There I would volunteer to serve the solemn outdoor Masses and enjoyed participating in the outdoor Eucharistic processions and Stations of the Cross. Little did I know back then, in the mid-1980s, that in God’s Providence I would one day find myself living as a graduate priest in Rome on a rainy day in 1999 for Padre Pio’s beatification.

More recently, on September 23, 2016, the feast day of Padre Pio, I participated in a beautiful procession through the streets of Rome. It started at the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro (near Castel Sant’Angelo), which is where several of Padre Pio’s relics are venerated, and made its way through one of my favorite streets in Rome, the Via dei Coronari.

It had rained before the start of the procession, but then the bright Roman sun warmed things as we prayed the Rosary and made our way into Piazza Navona and back to San Salvatore in Lauro by the same route. The procession culminated in a beautiful outdoor Mass attended by hundreds of the faithful and which I was privileged to concelebrate and distribute Holy Communion.

It was a wonderful devotional event in the heart of a secular city. It served as a witness to Christ and His Church in the public square. While many a tourist may have gawked at the procession out of curiosity, others prayed fervently and even joined the procession while shopkeepers and restauranteurs quietly made the sign of the cross and added their subtle voices to our litany of Paters, Aves and Gloria Patris. Continue reading

  • Fr Nicholas Gregoris is a founding member of the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the managing editor of “The Catholic Response,” and the author of four books.
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