In the spirit of Padre Pio, pray the Rosary, and pray it well

Padre Pio said, “All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” 

By Br. Eliott, MIC

What have you heard about Padre Pio (St. Pio of Pietrelcina), whose feast we celebrate on Sept. 23

Maybe you heard that he could bi-locate, or that he had the wounds of Christ. But have you heard about Padre Pio’s great love for Mary, the Mother of God? 

For love of Mary 
The saint himself said, “All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” Mary leads us closer to her Son. There is so much we can learn from Padre Pio’s great love for Mary Immaculate. In particular, we can learn that the secret to Padre Pio’s holiness was Mary. 

Padre Pio’s fidelity to Mary started in his childhood and lasted throughout his entire life. He was known as “Francesco” before he was given his religious name. Born in 1887, Francesco grew up in Pietrelcina, a small town in Italy that had a long history of devotion to the Blessed Mother. The town of Pietrelcina had a devotion to “Our Lady of Liberty,” and celebrated a festival every year honoring her with a procession.

Francesco’s devotion to Mary was fostered through his biological mother, Giuseppa Forgione. Giuseppa taught her children to pray the Rosary daily. 

Pious Pio
The Virgin Mary assisted the young Francesco in a special way when he left to join the Capuchin Franciscans. When Francesco was only 15 years old, he had a vision of Mary and Jesus which gave him great consolation. This vision gave the young Italian courage to leave his family in order to join the Franciscans without shedding a tear.

Francesco was given the religious name of “Pio” or “Pius,” which is Latin for “pious.” This name suited the Italian well, because Pio was known for his pious devotions. 

The childhood fervor of Francesco only skyrocketed when he joined the Franciscans. Some sources say that Padre Pio would pray up to 35 full 15-decade Rosaries in one day. One of Pio’s novice brothers said, “He was extremely pious in the fulfillment of his practices of devotion. He would be the first, with great fervor and faith, to make acts of adoration, to pay reverence and make genuflections before the Blessed Sacrament and the image of Our Lady.” 

San Giovanni Rotundo
In 1916, Padre Pio was sent to the monastery of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was in this monastery where Padre Pio resided until his death in 1968.

Padre Pio would venerate the image of Our Lady of Grace which hung in the sanctuary of the monastery church. On the day following Padre Pio’s canonization Mass (June 17, 2002), Pope St. John Paul II addressed a group of pilgrims in Rome and told them of Padre Pio’s great love for Our Lady of Grace. Saint John Paul II said, “May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Padre Pio called by the beautiful name of Our Lady of Grace, help us to follow in the footprints of this Religious who is so beloved by the people.” 

Spiritual children
One way in which we can follow in the footsteps of Padre Pio is by imitating his love for the Rosary. Padre Pio encouraged his spiritual children to carry a Rosary with them at all times, and to pray it every day. 

Padre Pio is known for referring to the most holy Rosary as a weapon: “Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today.” Padre Pio would fill any spare moment he had with the recitation of the Rosary. Oftentimes, he would pray the Rosary without people knowing. 

Saint Pio blessed thousands of Rosaries in his lifetime and gave other religious articles to those who visited him. Two days before Padre Pio died, he said: “Love Our Lady and make her loved. Recite the Rosary and recite it always. And recite it as much as you can.” It was Padre Pio’s closeness to Mary that allowed him to reach the heights of holiness. Mary drew him closer to Christ. 

The Rosary triumphs
May we be given the grace to heed Padre Pio’s admonition: “Love Our Lady, make others love her. Always say your Rosary and say it well. Satan always tries to destroy this prayer, but he will never succeed. It is the prayer of her who triumphs over everything and everyone.”

To learn more about Padre Pio and the Rosary, I highly recommend Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. You'll be reminded that when the faithful pray the Rosary, miracles happen. Battles are won. Impossible odds are overcome. New life is given to goodness, and evil goes down in defeat.

So heed Padre Pio's advice and trust in the power of the Holy Rosary and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. And remember his famous advice: "Pray, hope, and don't worry."


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