St. Pio's Legacy Is Prayer and Charity, Says Pope

Sends Letter to Archbishop Delegate to Capuchin's Shrine

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II summed up the spiritual legacy of St. Pio of Pietrelcina with two words: "prayer and charity."



The Pope refers to the legacy of the Capuchin of the stigmata (1887-1968) in a letter sent to Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio of the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo. The archbishop is the papal delegate for the shrine and works founded by Padre Pio in the archdiocese.

"Prayer and charity, this is an extremely concrete synthesis of the spiritual legacy left by the humble friar, educated in the school of the Poverello of Assisi," St. Francis, the letter states.

"This synthesis must be lived and witnessed by all those who wish to maintain spirituality alive in today's world," the Pope adds.

"To rediscover the value of the cross of Christ to make of it the inspiring center of one's life -- this is the fundamental characteristic of his spirituality," says the papal letter, published today by the Vatican press office.

Padre Pio "was able to recognize the suffering Christ not only in the interior dialogue of prayer, but also in the meeting with other people who were visited by illness, and he gave of himself to bring them consolation."

Padre Pio was canonized in June 2002. He thus became "an impressive example of human sensitivity, presenting again with his example two peculiar characteristics of the Franciscan and Capuchin tradition: contemplative prayer and concrete charity," the Pope writes.

He adds: "A manifestation of the first are the 'Prayer Groups' founded by him," some 3,000, which gather millions of people worldwide; "a singular testimony of the second is the Home for the Relief of Suffering," an important hospital and assistance center in San Giovanni Rotondo, the place where the Capuchin lived.

"The spiritual movement inspired by the charism of St. Pio of Pietrelcina has not been exhausted with his earthly death," the Holy Father states, "on the contrary, it has grown increasingly, becoming significantly important for the life of the whole Church."

"The secret of such ample resonance," he adds, "must be sought, without a doubt, in the total immersion of being ever more identified with the Crucified, having a very clear conscience of having been called to collaborate, in a peculiar manner, in the work of redemption."