The light of San Giovanni Rotondo
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Now I am writing to the Readers of ‘Niedziela’ from San Giovanni Rotondo, which our editorial group has visited. San Giovanni Rotondo is the place where Saint Father Pio spent most of his life. We were lucky to be at the relics of this Saint. His body was exhumed in an almost untouched condition – there was some damage but basically the face of Saint Pio remained unchanged. The body has been laid in a glass sarcophagus, which people pass by praying. Over a million people have already seen the earthly remains of the holy Stigmatic. The town of San Giovanni Rotondo is full of Fr Pio’s presence. You can see his portraits and photos everywhere. He has influenced all lives. Fr Pio died in 1968. He was a man of zealous prayer and love for Jesus Christ. His life was not easy. He was in poor health from his childhood. Being a monk, after he had received the stigmata he was forbidden to celebrate Mass in public. His stigmata were considered to be false. Then he celebrated Mass alone, in a little chapel which could hold only one more person. During those times Fr Pio dedicated himself to deepening his spiritual life, being united with Christ. The wounds on his hands were very painful. At first, he even prayed to God to make the stigmata invisible and it happened so. But with time the stigmata reappeared for good, which was connected with enormous physical suffering.
I had the occasion to meet a close disciple of Fr Pio – Fr Domenico Labellarte (87) who spoke about the various activities of this inspired man of God. I also visited the place where there were roots of several works, which this tireless continuator of Fr Pio’s work initiated. These include the Missionaries of Christ Crucified, the Missionary Sisters of Christ Crucified, and the Work of Divine Mercy. The works of Fr Pio have been visible all over the world, including Poland and Czestochowa. Today there are numerous Fr Pio’s Prayer Groups. Fr Dominico told me how he had met Fr Pio and what the indicator of his sanctity was. We are very close to merciful God. He has showed his immense mercy for mankind through his servants, including Saint Pio. This tireless confessor instructed many people who came to San Giovanni Rotondo. During his life many great things happened through his intercession: healings, spiritual transformations, increase of faith. Today we can see these works of God and we can touch them. And all of them resulted from great love for Crucified Christ, for love for the Eucharist, love showed by one man who offered all things to Lord God. Father Pio constantly calls us to holiness, to life in the Eucharist, and certainly nowadays he can help people more than he did during his life. That’s why we can see the great cult of this Saint – we can see hundreds of thousands of people who come to San Giovanni Rotondo, who pray here, climb the local hills and take the paths, go to confession and visit every place that shows the spirit and personality of Saint Pio. Let us remember that all these things lead to Crucified Jesus and deep reflection on the teaching of the Gospel. Father Pio also had a deep devotion to the Most Holy Mother, especially during the most difficult and painful stage of his life. For him the rosary was the most powerful weapon in the fight against Satan. Therefore, he often called people to pray the rosary. I am sending you my warmest greetings from this place, illuminated by the sun and the unique light of the saint. If you can, please make a pilgrimage to the relics of the Holy Stigmatic in San Giovanni Rotondo, the place that this friar of extraordinary faith transformed from a small town lost among the slopes of Gargano into a worldwide sight that restores both spiritual and physical health. Since the policlinic that Fr Pio founded – the House for the Relief of Suffering – has been functioning very well. I want to remind you of the famous Monte Sant’ Angelo with the grotto, commemorating the appearance of Archangel Michael, which is situated near San Giovanni Rotondo. Moreover, this is a very beautiful and extremely attractive touristic region of Italy.