.- The body of Padre Pio will be on display for veneration at next month’s Ash Wednesday Mass in the Vatican, where a group of priests will be sent out as “Missionaries of Mercy” for the Jubilee Year.
Pope Francis “has expressed his keen desire” for the relics of the Capuchin saint to be exposed during the Feb. 10 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
In a letter Archbishop Michele Castoro of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Archbishop Fisichella explained that this year’s Ash Wednesday is the day on which the Pope “will send the Missionaries of Mercy throughout the world, conferring on them the special mandate of preaching and hearing confessions, as a living sign of how the Father welcomes all those who seek his forgiveness.”
“The presence of St. Pio’s remains,” he said, “will be a precious sign for all missionaries and priests, who will find strength for their own mission in the wondrous example of this untiring, welcoming and patient confessor, an authentic witness of the Father’s mercy.”
These Missionaries of Mercy are priests who, during the Jubilee of Mercy, will be given the faculties to pardon sins in cases otherwise reserved to the Holy See.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, colloquially known as “Padre Pio,” was a priest of the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin, a stigmatist, and a mystic, who lived from 1887-1968. He was beatified in 1999, and canonized in 2002 by St. John Paul II. He was born in Pietrelcina, but ministered in San Giovanni Rotondo from 1916 until his death.
February’s exposition of Padre Pio’s remains at the Vatican is part of the relics’ tour for the Year of Mercy, which will include stops in Rome and Pietrelcina, according to newly released information.
Italian media reports that Padre Pio’s relics, which reside in the shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo, will arrive Feb. 3 at Rome’s Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, where it will remain through Feb. 4, under the care of the Capuchins.
On Feb. 5, the relics will be carried in procession from Saint Lawrence to St. Peter’s Basilica, where they will remain until Feb. 11. Various events will be held during this period, including a papal audience Feb. 6 with members of “Padre Pio prayer groups,” workers at the Home to Relieve Suffering – founded by St. Pio in 1956 – and faithful from the Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo archdiocese.
On Feb. 9, Pope Francis will preside over Mass with Capuchin brothers, Padre Pio’s own order, from around the world.
After Mass Feb. 11 for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes presided over by Archbishop Fisichella, St. Pio’s relics will be taken for three days to Pietrelcina.