.- The Vatican announced today the details of Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, the town in the Italian Region of Puglia where St. Padre Pio lived.
The Holy Father is scheduled to arrive at the “Antonio Massa” sports ground at 9:15 a.m. on June 21. He will proceed to venerate the tomb of St. Padre Pio at the shrine of Our Lady of Grace, where he will pray and light two candles, symbolizing his apostolic visit and that of Pope John Paul II.
Afterwards, the Pope will preside at a Mass in the Plaza of the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, where he will also pray the midday Angelus.
At 4:45 on Sunday afternoon, the Holy Father will meet with patients as well as medical and administrative staff at the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza,” the Home to Relieve Suffering, founded by Padre Pio in 1956.
The Pope will then return to the Church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina to meet with priests, religious, and young people.
Pope Benedict will return by helicopter to the Vatican, where he is expected to arrive by 7:30 on Sunday evening.
The town of San Giovanni Rotondo is named after St. John, patron of the Pirgian inhabitants, and the small round church which they had devoted to him.
Padre Pio was assigned to a community of Capuchin friars in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916. In the years that followed, he became a well-known confessor and spiritual director, battling the torments of the Devil and receiving the stigmata.