By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
Among Aaron Richard’s collection of nearly 400 rosaries are two rosaries blessed by Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), whose famous motto was, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
It was only natural that Aaron took advantage of an opportunity to venerate the Italian Franciscan Capuchin priest’s relics during a recent tour at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church on Tuesday, October 4.
The Padre Pio Relics Tour, sponsored by the Saint Pio Foundation, is a chance for many to experience a spiritual encounter with St. Pio who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 26, 2002.
Known for being the first priest in the history of the Roman Catholic Church to receive the stigmata (the five wounds of our Lord’s passion appeared on his body on September 20, 1918), countless people were attracted to his confessional over the years. St. Pio spent up to 14 hours a day in confession offering his saintly counsel and spiritual guidance.
“I obtained the two rosaries from a man in Rome whose family knew Padre Pio personally,” said Aaron, a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. “The man was getting up in age, so the family decided to re-distribute many of his blessed objects.”
Padre Pio suffered from poor health his entire life, but he never became discouraged, instead offering all his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, for the conversion of souls.
While venerating the first and second-class relics of Padre Pio — which included a cotton gauze bearing Saint Pio’s blood stains, crusts of his wounds, and a lock of his hair, all encased in glass — Aaron prayed for healing for himself as well as family and is confident his prayers will be heard.
“I prayed for the intercession of Padre Pio the entire time I had prostate cancer, and I made it through that,” said Aaron who graduated from high school in 1968, the same year St. Pio died. “I have cystic lesions on my left kidney and possibly a tumor. I will be going to Houston for more scans and pray for good results. I prayed for everybody and anybody I could think of today.”
Aaron said visiting the relics made him feel like he was in the presence of St. Pio.
“I could have stayed here all day,” he remarked. “Padre Pio is one of my favorite saints. I really like St. Benedict and St. Anne, too.”
It is important to note that according to Canon Law, any religious object that touches the reliquary holding a first- or second-class relic becomes a third-class relic.
During one of two presentations given by Monsignor Daniel A. Torres. V.G., on the life of St. Padre Pio, he mentioned how the saint, much like the faithful flocking to see the relics, found himself being lured to the love and mercy of Christ.
“The grace of the Holy Spirit has brought us here today that as we come to see the relics of this great saint, and through the prayers of St. Francis of Assisi (whose Feast Day is October 4) and the prayers of St. Padre Pio, they are praying for all of us that we can be brought closer to the love and mercy of Christ and that we can find healing,” said Monsignor Torres, Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven.
“We pray for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, and for our family members, for our enemies, for our coworkers, for the people who are sick, and for those who have left the Church. We ask these great saints to pray and bring them back,” Monsignor continued.
“Let us ask St. Padre Pio to pray for us that we can experience that love and mercy and all the people that we bring in our hearts and minds, that the healing power of God be in their lives,” he said before leading those gathered in the Prayer of Saint Francis.
There was a steady flow of believers as the public veneration took place between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. with prayers led by various groups and students throughout the day. Mass was celebrated at 5:30 p.m. in honor of St. Padre Pio. The Tour of Relics also visited St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vinton the week before on September 28-29.
To learn more about the Saint Pio Foundation, visit https://saintpiofoundation.org.
To learn more about the life of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), visit https://saintpiofoundation.org/saint-pios-biography.