Thought for the Day – 23 September – The Memorial of St Padre Pio (1887-1968)
St Pio, the Madonna and her Holy Rosary
“For the stigmatist of the Gargano, love for the Madonna meant perpetual imitation of her, if Jesus is the way and the light that leads to the Father, Mary is the way and the light which leads to Jesus. With Mary’s help and by imitating her virtues, Padre Pio drew ever closer to Jesus, so very close as to be transformed into Him.
His imitation of Mary meant, most importantly, imitation of her humility. For him, that humility was a constant interior torment, a slow and painful agony, the anguish of not knowing whether he was corresponding to divine grace. You could read that deep humility on his face even when he was surrounded by clamorous crowds who believed in him, who trusted in his prayers and expected so many miracles from him every day. He always remained collected. His humility made it possible for him to be serene and dignified as he silently accepted mortification, slander, quarrels, humiliation and sorrow.
For him, love of the Madonna signified perpetual mortification. He implored his spiritual director to allow him to make a vow of abstinence from fruit on Wednesdays, he also asked him to suggest a means of pleasing the Blessed Mother in all things at all times.
Love of the Madonna animated Padre Pio and inspired him all the more to become an apostle. “I should like to have a voice strong enough to invite all the sinners of the world to love the Madonna.” God heard this sigh of love, he was given a voice that could be heard even when he was silent. It was a voice that touched the depths of people’s hearts and that penetrated their consciences, a voice that tormented and shook those who were dormant. It was a voice that was as terrible as the crashing of thunder in the night, yet as sweet as a caress. It was a voice that was threatening yet inviting, a voice that annihilated yet restored, that consoled and pardoned.
To all those who recommended themselves to his prayers, Padre Pio would say: “Love the Madonna. Recite the Rosary!”
One day, his guardian asked him how many rosaries he recited daily. Padre Pio answered, “Well, I have to tell my Guardian the truth, I have recited thirty-four!” For him, the rosary was a perpetual meditation on the profound mysteries of Calvary, on Jesus’s plan of salvation, on His sorrowful Mother. Padre Pio was fascinated by the Hail Mary.
…His love became an endless, ardent, faithful prayer. Who could possibly count the rosaries that he recited over the course of his marvellous life? He was the Friar of the rosary. He always carried it in his hand or on his arm as if it were a bracelet or a shield. He had other rosaries under the pillow of his bed, on the bureau in his cell. He called the rosary his weapon.
One night when he was sick in bed, he was unable to find his rosary beads, so he called Fr Onorato of San Giovanni Rotondo, saying, “Young man, get me my weapon, give me my weapon.”
The rosary was his favourite pray,r; he recited it continually. He devoured the rosary with insatiable hunger, it was the prayer that he had learned from the Virgin herself, the Virgin of Pompeii, Lourdes and Fatima, as a means of obtaining the conversion and salvation of sinners.
At certain hours, he would walk down the centre path of the friary garden, absorbed in his suffering and in his love, while the beads slipped through the fingers of his wounded hands. in his pockets he carried rosary beads, which he would give to anyone who requested a set, even today, people still hold these dear, saying, “This is a rosary which Padre Pio gave me, I treasure it with all my heart!”
Excerpted from Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait, by Fr Francesco Napolitano OFM Cap
Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait is a classic introduction to one of the most intriguing saints of the twentieth century—written five years after the saint’s death by someone who worked alongside the Capuchin priest and knew him well, this account is now in print in English for the first time in more than forty years.
St Padre Pio, help us to love the Rosary
and please Pray for Us!