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PASTORAL VISITS IN ITALY

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PASTORAL VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI

TO SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO

Sunday, June 21, 2009

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PROGRAM

08.00 Departure by helicopter from the Vatican

09.15 Arrival at the Antonio Massi sport field

09.35 Private visit to the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie
and veneration of the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in the Crypt.

10.30 EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION in front of the Church of St. Pio
Homily by the Holy Father
- RECITAL OF THE ANGELUS
Words from the Holy Father

16.45 Encounter with patients, medical staff and officials
at the Monumental Entrance to the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza
(House of Relief from Suffering)
Address by the Holy Father

17.30 Encounter with priests, religious, and young people
Church of San Pio
Address by the Holy Father

18.15 Departure for the Vatican

19.30 Arrival at the Vatican




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Capuchins hope Pope's trip
will be a teaching moment:
The faithful should look more
to emulating Padre Pio
than to hoping for miracles

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SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy, June 12 (Translated from ASCA) - "The principal expectation we have from the Magisterium of this theologian Pope is certainly that he will give the faithful guidance on authentic devotion, less dependent on expecting supernatural events and more oriented to emulating this man (Padre Pio o Pietrelcina) who succeeded in leading a life of holiness in the past century even while relativism and the culture of nonsense had taken hold".

This according to Stefano Campanella, deputy spokesman for the Capuchin Fathers of San Giovanni Rotondo, who are in charge of the churches and sites associated with the saint.

"The fact that Benedict XVI - first as cardinal, then as Pope - has cited padre Pio a number of times, gives us to understand that for this Pope, the Capuchin saint could represent a 'lived' catechism for man in the Third Millennium, at the start of which Padre Pio was presented to the universal Church as a saint [he was canonized in 2002] and a model to follow," he said.

Benedict XVI will arrive in San Giovanni Rotondo around 9:15 on Sunday, June 21, and will first proceed to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to venerate the remains of the saint, exhumed in April last year, and which will remain for public exposition till September this year.

He will the celebrate a Mass in the piazza in front of the modern church of San Pio. In the afternoon, he will visit the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza [House of Relief from Suffering], established by Padre Pio, which has since become one of Europe's best tertiary-care health facilities.



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The Italian service of
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has once again produced a dossier - which is really a briefing book - about the Holy Father's coming visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

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It did the same thing previously with the Pope's visits to Cagliari, Cameroon and Angola, and to the Holy Land, but not for Montecassino.

It's the sort of briefing book that I used to prepare for announcers doing any important news coverage for radio and TV back in the days when I was a journalist. It provides background information, both historical as well as current, on all aspects of the visit, including the place and the people, previous visits by other Popes and by Benedict himself before he became Pope, the specific places and events to be attended by the Pope, and in this case, excellent background material and pictures of Padre Pio.

It's a shame that the other language services of Vatican Radio, particularly the English one, do not make the effort to translate these dossiers. The San Giovanni Rotondo dossier only comes to 80 printed pages (the one for the Holy Land came about 180 pages in two volumes).

If they assigned a team of 3 or 4 to translate a dossier for each language, they could easily do it on a weekend. I am only too sorry I do not have the time to do it myself, although in the past visits where a dossier was available, I did try to translate and use their material where appropriate (though the last time, I could not keep it up after the first two days in Jordan).



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I did not realize I had not 'updated' this thread with the subsequent posts on the Pope's visit to San Giovanni Rotondo and all the subsequent preliminary reports on his visits to Vieterbo and to Brescia. Making up for it now, and bringing it up to date....

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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:

I do not know why even a veteran Vaticanista like Salvatore Izzo of AGI, who generally has very shrewd comments, should find it 'remarkable' that Benedict XVI should come to venerate Padre Pio.

Even the Franciscan friar, Brother DiLeo cited in the CNA article in the preceding post, ended his remarks by saying that "the picture of teh theologian Pope kneeling before Padre Pio's urn will be more significant than any words."

The assumption is that an intellectual like Joseph Ratzinger is too far removed from the faith of the simple folk. Yet this is someone who grew up amid the simple traditional Catholicism of Bavaria, and who, even as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, defined his job as keeping the faith whole and intact for the simple folk.

As a boy, he frequented the Marian shrine at Altoetting with his family, and there he also learned to venerate St. Conrad of Parzham, the lay Capuchin who served as a humble porter at the shrine for 40 years.

In fact, Pope Benedict XVi often cites Padre Pio whenever he refers to contemporary saints.

All manifestations of Christian faith are welcome, provided they do not remain empty manifestations but are translated into a genuine conversion of the heart to Christian love
.



The theologian Pope and defender of the faith
will kneel before the mortal remains of the saint

by Salvatore Izzo and Franco Colomo
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SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 20 (Translated from AGI) - Benedict XVI, the theologian Pope who spent half of his life as a university professor and the next half as defender of the faith, will render homage tomorrow to San Pio of Pietrelcina, a monk who dealt with his people with great simplicity and who had been investigated for some time by the former Holy Office [in the 1920s and 1930s].

He will pray before the urn containing the body of the Capuchin who bore Christ's stigmata in life and who has been on public exposition for more than a year now.

It is a significant visit which comes 10 years after Padre Pio's beatification in May 1989, and seven years since he was canonized on June 16, 2002.

Then the Pope will celebrate Mass in front of the futuristic church of San Pio (designed by Renzo Piano and decorated by mosaic artist Mark Rupnik). In the afternoon, he will visit the patients and personnel of the hospital Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza [started by padre Pio but now a property of the Vatican, administered by the diocese], and finally with priests, religious, seminarians and young people in the Church of San Pio.

Papa Ratzinger's predecessor, John Paul II, came here on May 23, 1987.

Last October 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the Opere di San Pio (Works of San Pio, referring to his various social projects in San Giovanni Rotondo), Benedict XVI addressed the staff and personnel of the Casa Sollievo and the members of Padre Pio's Prayer Encounter Groups at a special audience in St. Peter's Square.

"Padre Pio," he told them, "was above all a man of God. From childhood, he felt called by the Lord and he responded with all his heart, all his soul, all his strength. Thus, divine love could take possession of his humble person and make it a chosen instrument in his plan for salvation. Everything in the Church comes from God, and without him, nothing can stand."

"The works of Padre Pio," he said, "offer an extraordinary example of this truth. One can well call the Casa di Sollievo a miracle. And if the scientific and technological dimension distinguishes the hospital, prayer extends throughout all of the works."

The prayer encounter groups, he said, "continually knock on the heart of God, like an army of intercessors and reparationists, to obtain graces needed by the Church and the world".

These prayer groups, born in 1942, are today one of the most concrete proofs of the friar's legacy - more than 3,000 spread throughout all the inhabited continents.

"Padre Pio still offers a reference point for us today," John Paul II told the Capuchin community when he visited in 1987, "because the two aspects which characterize Catholic priesthood found particular acceptance and spiritual resonance in him: the faculty to consecrate the Body and Blood of the Lord and that of remitting sins. Were not the altar and the confessional the two poles of his life? His priestly testimony has a message that is as valid as it is relevant today."

At the beatification ceremony in 1989, he noted, that "Padre Pio's charity poured forth like balsam over the weaknesses and sufferings of his brothers. And so he united his zeal for souls with attention to human pain, leading him to build a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo."

With the Casa di Sollievo, John Paul said, Padre Pio showed that "God's 'ordinary miracles' are made possible through our charity".

At the canonization rites on June 16, 2002, the Pope proclaimed to the world that "the new saint invites us to place God above everything else in the world and to consider him as our best and only good."

"The ultimate reason for Padre Pio's apostolic effectiveness was the profound roots of his spiritual fecundity in his intimate and constant union with God of which the long hours he spent in prayer were an eloquent testimony."

As for Padre Pio's relations with the Popes, John XXIII's great mistrust of the monk was well known, but towards the end, he changed his mind at the urging of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa who was the first president of the Italian bishops' conference, according to Siri's biographer, the famed ex-Vaticanista and historian Benni Lay.

"I often had to meet with Pope John because of my duties as CEI president and also of the 'social weeks' (annually observed by the Italian bishops to highlight the social work undertaken by dioceses and parishes], and we always ended up talking about Padre Pio," Lay quotes Siri as saying.

John XXIII, a good man and a true saint, was concerned because serious accusations were reaching the Vatican about Padre Pio. Sometimes it was the Capuchin's own defenders who contributed by an excess of zeal and the impression of wanting to rush tings.

In the end, the Pope, according to Siri, was convinced that the monk "had nothing to do with the accusations that were mobilized against him".

But even a giant of the faith like Cardinal Siri could do little against the prejudices of the Franciscan doctor Agostino Gemelli (founder of the hospital in Rome and the Catholic university of teh Sacred Heart in Milan) who could never accept that the poor Capuchin could share the same gift given to Francis of Assisi - namely, the stigmata.

Gemelli nursed a stubborn prejudice that Siri could not manage to dent. "Facts are facts", Siri wrote about Padre Pio's stigmata. In the process, he revealed a curious episode with Padre Pio.

Siri had been perplexed and anguished over a problem and he had to make a delicate choice between two courses of action 'in the dark', so to speak.

"The next day," he told Lay, "I received a telegram from Padre Pio who said that the decision I took was the right one/ How on earth did he even know?"

Eventually, Siri brought all this to the attention of Paul VI after Padre Pio's death and was able to get the process of beatification under way. This remained stalled for a long time until it was taken up again by John Paul II.


I will post here a story about Cardinal Ratzinger who visited Pietrelcina, Padre Pio's hometown about two weeks before the monk's canonization. The story first appeared in an Italian magazine in 2005 and I posted this translation in the thread ENCOUNTERS WITH THE FUTURE POPE on the PRF in June 2006 after Ratzigirl unearthed it.


CARDINAL RATZINGER'S HOMAGE
TO PADRE PIO OF PIETRELCINA

by Roberto Allegri


“June 1, 2002 was a Saturday. In Pietrelcina, we were all in great commotion in preparation for the proclamation of Padre Pio as a saint, which would take place on June 15. All of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio’s hometown, was mobilized for the event.

“Then came the surprise that no one expected. In the afternoon, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger arrived, the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, requesting to visit the places associated with Padre Pio.

“We accompanied him with great joy, and it was a most beautiful and touching occasion – especially because we had not thought that the great German theologian, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be so visibly interested in the mystical story of Padre Pio, who is considered the saint of the simple folk, a saint of the people.”

So recalls Father Marciano Guarino about that day. His image, happily smiling, is immortalized next to Cardinal Ratzinger in photos taken during that visit [I've tried searching for these photos online but without success].

At that time, Fr. Marciano was the parish priest of the main church in Pietrelcina. Today he is the chaplain of the hospital called “House of Relief from Suffering” in San Giovanni Rotondo [the little town near the Adriatic Sea in the central eastern part of Italy which is the site of the principal shrine to Padre Pio].

“As one can see in these pictures,” Padre Marciano says, “I was really very happy. The Cardinal had put us all at ease. We had thought that he would be a severe person, but he turned out to be simple and very friendly.”

But not one newspaper reported that visit in 2002. It was a private visit. In addition, everyone in Pietrelcina at the time thought that Ratzinger – precisely because he was Prefect of the CDF, which was once called the Holy Office, that had issued several condemnations of Padre Pio in the 20s and 30s - would not be a sympathizer of the monk from Pietrelcina.

Indeed, it was thought that Ratzinger, with his profound theological culture and his tranining as a great intellectual, would not have a ‘feel’ for the humility of Padre Pio and for the popular devotion demonstrated for him by simple people.

Some even suspected that the stern ‘guardian of the faith’ may have actually come to investigate whether there were devotional exaggerations, based on superstition, practised in the saint’s hometown.

But now that Cardinal Ratzinger has become Benedict XVI and has shown in his daily activities that he was always in harmony with his predecessor, all the prejudices have fallen away.

“Truthfully,” Fr. Marciano says, “we immediately realized that Cardinal Ratzinger was a great admirer of Padre Pio. To everything that we told him about Padre Pio, he listened attentively, with great interest, and asked questions. “

“In the places where Padre Pio lived and where so many mysterious phenomena were verified to take place, like the apparitions and the stigmata, the bloody ‘battle’ with Satan, the Cardinal visited in silence, almost as if he were listening to voices, almost as if he were imagining the events that had taken place. And he prayed. I could see him go into prayer.

”Even I had always had that mistaken image of the Cardinal. Like everyone else, on the basis of what was said about him, I imagined him stern, taciturn, reserved, mistrutful. Instead he was very sweet, affable, smiling, humble – someone who immediately put you at ease, one who was immediately likable.”


How was this visit arranged?
There was no arrangement. The cardinal was in Benevento for the closing of the diocesan Eucharistic Congress. Pietrelcina is only about 15 kilometers away from Benevento, so the Cardinal decided he wanted to visit the places associated with Padre Pio. And the superior of our convent simply received a telephone call informing him that the Cardinal would be arriving.


Was he accompanied by others?
By his secretary and by two priests from Benevento. No outward appearances. No official reception. He stopped awhile at the convent to speak to our superior (Father Nazario at the time), and then he began his visit. The first stop was at my parish church.”


Important because it was there Padre Pio said Mass in the early years of his priesthood...
And it is called the Mother Church of Pietrelcina because it is the most important. Padre Pio said Mass every morning in that church. We told Cardinal Ratzinger that as a young priest, Padre Pio had seen many apparitions of the Madonna in that church.

These are wondrous things for believers, but many others think they are simply legends or fantasizing. But Cardinal Ratzinger, great theologian, defender of the faith, simply listened very attentively, and I never saw his face express the slightest sign of surprise or reservation.


How long did he stay?
Quite some time. He wanted to visit every place unhurriedly. I remember he congratulated us on how clean the Church was. He is very watchful and observant, nothing seemed to escape him. He noted how the church was clean even in the most remote corners.

Inside the church, we also had a bell that we had ordered to mark Padre Pio’s canonization two weeks later. It was inside the church to be blessed. It would be a historic bell. The Cardinal stopped to inspect and admire it.

There was a reliquary, with a glove of Padre Pio that was stained with blood from his stigmata. The Cardinal looked at everything with great attention and admiration.


Later, where else did he go?
We went to the historic zone of Pietrelcina, in which is located the Church of St. Anne, where Padre Pio was baptized, and the houses where he was born, where he passed his infancy, and where he lived during his long years of sickness.

The cardinal even went up to the ‘torretta’, a little room that had been made into a sort of tower, to which Padre Pio often retreated for prayer, and later, even became his bedroom.

In that ‘torretta’ many mysterious, mystic things happened that are difficult to explain, and therefore, many people don’t consider them factual. But they are historical facts that truly occurred, and we recounted these to Cardinal Ratzinger, who listened seriously and with active participation.

After the visit to the historic zone, he was accompanied to the countryside location in Piana Romana, where Padre Pio received his stigmata.


So the Cardinal showed great interest in all these mystical events associated with Padre Pio?
A great deal of interest, but not only that. As I said, in every place that he visited, he would gather himself in prayer, showing devotion, admiration and love for Padre Pio.


In 2002, the newspapers rwere reporting almost daily about Padre Pio. The visit to Pietrelcina of a cardinal as famous as Ratzinger should have been a big thing for the press, ut instead it went by unnoticed, and it is only made known now that he is Pope.
I don’t know. Maybe it was not played up because Cardinal Ratzinger was always resevred. Or maybe out of prejudice. As I said, it was thought that Ratzinger was not an admirer of Padre Pio.

Instead, it turns out to be the opposite. I learned, reading an artile in the magazine ‘Pietrelcina, the Land of Padre Pio’, that the cardinal spoke amply of Padre Pio in one of his books written before he came to visit us. And he spoke precisely of those aspects that are linked to the popular devotions to Padre Pio.

He recalled the story that a pregnant woman told a reporter – she had been gravely ill bur was cured after praying to Padre Pio. In commenting on this, the Cardinal did not say that this was an exaggeration, or fanaticism. Instead he pointed out that the woman’s behavior showed her true faith.

Indeed, this is what he wrote: “It may have been ingenuous or childlike, but her behavior reflected something of the original trustfulness that we had been given as a gift and which is rooted in the awareness that we have friends in the world beyond this, that such friends are near, that they can help us, and that we can call on them with trust.” And that is exactly what people did
who turned for help with great simplicity to Padre Pio.


How long did the visit last?
Several hours. I was not able to participate in all of it because I had evening Mass to say at my church. Before he left, the cardinal signed the guest book in Pietrelcina, saying a beautiful thing: “May Saint Padre Pio always help his brothers and all pilgrims to love the suffering Christ and make a commitment to charity that springs from the open heart of the Lord.”


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First posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


Pope’s visit to Padre Pio
will inspire greater closeness
to Christ, says Capuchin rector

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Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2009 (CNA).- On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the tomb of Padre Pio, Brother Francesco Dileo, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces (Santa Maria delle Grazie), where the Pope will celebrate Mass this Sunday, said his visit will encourage the faithful to imitate the saint from Pietrelcina and thus follow Christ with more devotion.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the rector noted how “Padre Pio once said, ‘I will make more noise dead than alive.’ And in fact, the number of pilgrims is much higher compared to the end of 1968,” with some seven million visiting the shrine annually.

Speaking about the number of faithful who come to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray to the saint for a miracle, Brother Dileo said he receives an enormous amount of letters from people praying for Padre Pio’s intercession.

The letters are directly addressed to Padre Pio, “as if he were still alive, to ask for some physical or spiritual healing,” the brother said.

“I am firmly convinced that the grace of God that touches the hearts of men and makes the faith blossom and be reborn continues to work in this place, even after the death of Padre Pio,” he said. “I think it is difficult to encounter the life of this saint without sensing a desire to renounce sin and change one’s conduct.”

Referring to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit tomorrow, Brother Dileo said, “The picture of Benedict XVI in prayer in front of the remains of our beloved brother saint will certainly be more eloquent than many words.”



It is a significant coincidence that soon after inaugurating the Year for Priests, the Holy Father is making a pilgrimage to a saint who was a legendary priest widely recognized for his saintliness while he was alive.

Today's issue of OR carries an interview with a young Capuchin in San Giovanni Rotondo who says that in many ways, Padre Pio was like the Cure of Ars. I will try to translate it as soon as I can. My problem is that there is a flood of excellent material on Padre Pio that has come out in the Italian media the past few days, so I must choose what I can realistically have the time to translate.




Here's the official poster for the Pope's visit:


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www.papadapadrepio.info/papa_san_giovanni_rotondo_interna.php?...


Here's a good pre-visit situationer from Vatican Radio:


The Pope's visit to San Giovanni Rotondo
Translated from
the Italian service of

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June 20, 2009



San Giovanni Rotondo is in ferment for the arrival tomorrow of Benedict XVI who will visit the important sites in the life of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, seven years after he was canonized.

It is the second visit by a Pope, after that of John Paul II. And it is Benedict XVI's third visit to the Puglia region, having been to Bari in May 2005 and to Leuca and Brindisi in June 2008.

Some 30,000 pilgrims are expected to line the 4-kilometer route of the Popemobile through the city.

Preparations are impressive and the joy and anticipation is great among the people of Puglia and the Franciscan Capuchins who are in charge of the Padre Pio shrine and sites.

Correspondent Denora Donnini has this report:

A bright sun and a gentle breeze make the climate in San Giovanni Rotondo quite pleasant as it awaits Peter, the Pope who comes here tomorrow for a visit to the town where Padre Pio exercised his mission as a Franciscan monk and where he died in 1968.

More than 30,000 pilgrims are expected, and 550 policemen and firemen will keep order. The visit will certainly leave an impression on this town as did the visit of John Paul II in 1987, who would canonize Padre Pio 15 years later.

In fact, John Paul II, as a bishop in Cracow, had a personal correspondence with Padre Pio in which he asked him to intercede for the health of friends.

In 1962, Bishop Wojtyla wrote him to pray for a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer. Eleven days later, he wrote a second letter to thank him because the woman was miraculously healed. [This was Dr. Wanda Poltawska who was in the news recently because she published a book recalling her rirendship and correspondence with Karol Wojtyla over a pereiod of 55 years.]

Karol Wojtyla actually met Padre Pio in person in 1948 when he was a young priest. He came to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1978 after Padre Pio's death as a cardinal.

Anticipation and joy radiate from the faces of the Capuchin brothers of the convent here, the many pilgrims, and the doctors, personnel and patients of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House of relief from suffering), the hospital started by Padre Pio in 1956 with 250 beds, and which is now one of Europe's best tertiary (specialized) hospitals with 1200 beds, a center for genetic studies, and a research center to study rare diseases.

Tomorrow, Benedict XVI will have time for everyone. First he will visit Cell #1 where Padre Pio died, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and then he will pray before the saint's mortal remains which have been on public exposition in the church crypt since last April after it was exhumed from his grave in the church itself.

The Pope will light two 'eternal flames' to symbolize the two papal visits to the shrine.

Then he will celebrate Mass and lead the Angelus in the vast piazza in front of the Church of San Pio, built by architect Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2004.

In the afternoon, he will inaugurate the mosaic scenes from the lives of Jesus, St. Francis and Padre Pio created by artist Marko Rupnik, a Jesuit priest, for the crypt of the new church.

During the Mass, the Pope will receive a commemorative medallion of the visit from Matteo Pio Colella, who, as a boy, had been miraculously cured of fulminating meningitis through Padre Pio's intercession - the miracle that led to his canonization.

In the afternoon, the Pope will visit the Casa di Rilievo and then meet with the clergy, religious, seminarians and young people at the Church of Padre Pio.

It will be a very significant visit by a Pope to one of the great contemporary saints who has much to say to man today.

The visit will be "an exhortation to Christians to grow in their education in the faith, not to stop in contemplation of a great saint or hoping for miracles, but to learn to be witnesses to Christ, as Padre Pio was all his life", according to Antonio Belpiede, spokesman of the Capuchins' monastic province in Foggia.


What is the relevance of Padre Pio today in a world that is too rationalistic, nihilistic and skeptical? He always underscored the importance of backing up the announcement of Christ and his message with charity.
The world has an order that comes from God's love, and the history of man has its own order. Even children know the formula for water - as if to say that the important elements of life are simple. Christianity is simple and it is always the same: love for God means love for our brothers.

Padre Pio admirably expressed this love in total abandon to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the embrace of the Trinity, but never taking his eyes off from his people, never forgetting about the poor and the suffering,

One can only love truly by loving God and one's fellowmen - that is Christianity, that is the simple formula of our faith.


Padre Pio also experienced in his own body the wounds that Christ suffered on the Cross. Why is that?
St. Paul aays in his letter to the Philippians: "We have been given the privilege not only to believe in Jesus Christ but also to suffer for him". And then he wrote to the Colossians, as someone who had profound experience of pain: "I complete in my flesh what Jesus Christ suffered for his Body which is the Church".

Padre Pio was chosen by the Lord to be an icon of his Son the tEernal Priest, who was crucified for love of mankind. And it is true that there is no greater love than to give one's life for those we love.


We spoke to Dr. Lucia Miglionico, pediatric oncologist (cancer specialist) at the Casa di Sollievo, on how the sick children were prepared for the visit.

Dr. Miglionico: They are all extremely happy about the Pope's visit. Besides the preparations they have worked on with their teachers - prayers, streamers, flyers - we also prepared them for a possible meeting with the Pope. Some of them cannot leave the ward, but they will be able to follow the visit on TV. And those of them who will be out there to meet the Pope will carry with them the prayer intentions of those who are left in bed.


You are in chazge of a department that has children of all ages struck with cancer or tumors. So you and your staff are in constant contact with the suffering of innocents. How do you help them through their ordeal in the light of faith?
St. Pio made it clear that everyone who works here cannot be concerned only with physical healing of the body, but to accompany all our work with prayer, in prayer, to consider even this as a mission of evangelization.


Debora spoke to two children who will be among those meeting the Pope in the atrium of the hospital, and asked them what they expected.

Carmela: Much hope certainly. Also a lot of confidence, because we hope that with the help of the Pope, with his prayers, our own prayers may be heard better 'above'. And we hope we will gain more strength, more resolve, to overcome illness. I will ask the Pope to pray for our parents and relatives who suffer with us.

Romeo: I see in all the children a lot of hope, as Carmela rightly said. Since I am Romanian, I also think the Pope is a hero who fights against racial prejudice.


Do you feel helped by your faith?
Romeo: Yes, certainly, I feel personally that the Church is behind me.


This poster describes the spiritual preparation led by the diocese in the week preceding the Pope's visit:
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The schedule shows daily Masses adn prayer eocnounters, capped by a 'monumental' Via Crucis and massive prayer vigil at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie Saturday night:
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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


June 21
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St. Aloysius (Luigi) Gonzaga (Italy, 1568-1591)
Jesuit, Confessor




OR today.
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The Holy Father opened the Year for Priests at Second Vespers
on the SoLemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:
'The mystery of a God who feels for his people'
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Other Page 1 stories: A story on Padre Pio to introduce other stories in the inside pages on the occasion of the Pope's visit today to his shrine; the Pope's meeting with the De Gasperi Foundation; the letter written by the Pope to German President Koehler asking his help to promote international help to Africa before the Pope's trip to Africa and Koehler's response [it is not known why these letters are revealed at this time]; and increasing hunger in more parts of the world.


THE POPE'S DAY


PASTORAL VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI

TO SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO

Sunday, June 21, 2009

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PROGRAM

08.00 Departure by helicopter from the Vatican

09.15 Arrival at the Antonio Massi sport field

09.35 Private visit to the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie
and veneration of the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in the Crypt.

10.30 EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION in front of the Church of St. Pio
Homily by the Holy Father
- RECITAL OF THE ANGELUS
Words from the Holy Father

16.45 Encounter with patients, medical staff and officials
at the Monumental Entrance to the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza
(House of Relief from Suffering)
Address by the Holy Father

17.30 Encounter with priests, religious, and young people
Church of San Pio
Address by the Holy Father

18.15 Departure for the Vatican

19.30 Arrival at the Vatican




NB: Because of bad weather, the Pope did not travel by helicopter this morning. He took a regular airplane to Foggia airport,
and was drvien by car from there to San Giovanni Rotondo.


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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


The Pope pays homage
to Padre Pio

Translated from
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The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Padre Pio lived and served the last decades of his life and where he was buried.

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SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 21 - Benedict XVI is in San Giovanni Rotondo. For the same time since he became Pope, Papa Ratzinger is in Puglia for a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

The Pope arrived by car after landing at the military base of Amendola in Foggia: an unexpected change because of the bad weather which did not allow a helicopter flight from Rome.

The Pope then went through the city in the Popemobile, and was engulfed in a veritable sea of pilgrims, who despite the rain, lined the route in thousands to welcome him.

Meanwhile, the large piazza in front of the church of San Pio, designed to hold as many as 30,000, was already packed since the early hours of the morning.

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The Pope was welcomed by the Italian Minister for Regional Relations Raffaele Fitto in the name of the Italian government; Nichi Vendola, president of Puglia region; Antonio Pepe, president of Foggia province; and Foggia Mayor Gennaro Giuliani.

Welcoming him for the diocese was Mons. Domenico D'Ambrosio, apostolic administrator of San Giovanni Rotondo who has been named the new bishop of Lecce, farther south in Puglia.

Arriving in San Giovanni Rotondo by car from Foggia, the Pope transferred to the Popemobile which went through viale della Gioventù, via Donatello, corso Roma, via Foggia, piazza padre Pio, corso Umberto I, piazza Europa and viale Cappuccini to get to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where Padre Pio lived and served during the last decades of his life, and where he died in 1968.

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Above photo was taken on the day the saint's remains were first placed on public exposition in April 2008.
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In the Church, the Pope visited the cell where the saint died and then descended to the crypt where the saint's remains have been on public exposition since last April, and knelt in veneration in front of the urn next to the tomb where Padre Pio had been buried for 40 years.

Here, too, John Paul II had knelt in veneration on his visit to San Giovanni Rotondo in 1987, which marked the revival of Padre Pio's beatification process which had been stalled for years.


An Apcom report adds this:

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The Pope blessed the reliquary containing the heart of Padre Pio. The reliquary was then brought to the altar where it was displayed during the Mass celebrated by the Pope.

At Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Pope also met Pia Forgione, a niece of Padre Pio, and his eight grandnephews.

Some 30 Capuchin friars were at the crypt during the Pope's visit. Joining the Pope in venerating Padre Pio were Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and a deputy secretary of state, Mons. Giuseppe Bertello [Has there been an unannounced change of the deputy (Mons. Fernando Filoni) or Sostituto, as he is called in Italian?]

Also present was the monk who had given Extreme Unction to Padre Pio, Fr. Paolo Corvino, now 90, who has met 8 Popes.

Since the remains of the saint went on exposition last year, an average of 15,000 pilgrims have visited daily, peaking on feast days and in the summer.


From Caterina's montage of videocaps:

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The Pope vested for Mass in Santa Maria delle Grazie and then proceeded by Popemobile to the Church of San Pio to celebrate the Eurcharistic Sacrifice in the main piazza.

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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


MASS AT SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO


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Illustration: Stigmatization of Padre Pio (from the murals by Mark Ruznik, Church of St. Pio)
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Other illustrations in the Mass booklet, taken from the mural series. From left: 'Word becomes prayer'; St. Pio offers Mass in solitude (1931-1933); St. Pio embraces the life of Christ; The Annunciation: Our Lady opens herself to the Word of God.


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THE HOLY FATHER'S HOMILY


Dear brothers and sisters!

At the heart of my pilgrimage to this place, where everything speaks of the life and holiness of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, I have the joy of celebrating the Eucharist with you and for you - the mystery which constituted the center of his entire existence, the origin of his vocation, the power of his testimony, the consecration of his sacrifice.

With great affection, I greet you all who have come here in such numbers and all who are with us through radio and television. I greet first of all Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who, after years of faithful service to this diocesan community, will soon be taking care of the Archdiocese of Lecce. I thank him sincerely, and also because he conveyed your sentiments in your name.

I address a special greeting to the Capuchin Friars with their Minister General, Fra Mauro Jöhri, the General Director, the Provincial Minister, the Custodian of the Convent, the Rector of the Shrine and the Capuchin Fraternity in San Giovanni Rotondo.

With great acknowledgment I greet all those who contribute their services to the Shrine and its related works. I greet the civilian and military authorities, the priests, deacons, religious and all the faithful.

I address an affectionate thought to all those who are at the Casa di Sollievo di Sofferenza, and to all the solitary persons, and all the inhabitants of this city.

We have just heard the Gospel on the tempest stilled [by Christ] which was associated with a brief but incisive text from the Book of Job, in which God reveals himself as Lord of the sea.

Jesus threatened the wind and ordered the sea to calm itself, addressing this as if it was the power of the devil, In fact, as we are told in the First Reading and in Psalm 106/107, the sea is considered in the Bible as a threatening element, chaotic, potentially destructive, which only God, the Creator, can dominate, rule and quiet down.

But there is another power - a positive one - that moves the world, and is capable of transforming and renewing its creatures: the force of 'Christ's love' (2 Cor 5,14) - as St. Paul calls it in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. Therefore, not a cosmic force but rather a divine one, transcendent.

It acts on the cosmos itself, but in itself, the love of Christ is 'another' power, and it is this transcendent otherness that the Lord manifested in his Resurrection, in the 'holiness' of the lives of those chosen by him to liberate us from the dominion of evil, as it was during the exodus from Egypt, when he let the Jews escape through the waters of the Red Sea.

"Your way, O God, is holy," the Psalmist exclaims. "Through the sea was your path; your way, through the mighty waters" (Ps 77/76,14.20).

In the Paschal mystery, Jesus passed through the abyss of death, because God wished to renew the universe in this way: through the death and resurrection of his Son "who died for all", so that all may live "through him who died and resurrected for them" (2 Cor 5,16).

The solemn act of calming the tempestuous sea is clearly a sign of Christ's mastery over negative powers and leads us to think of his divinity: "Who then is this," the disciples asked each other, "whom even wind and sea obey?" (Mk 4,41).

Theirs was not yet a firm faith - it was still being formed. They felt a mixture of fear and trust, whereas the confident abandon of Jesus to the Father was total and pure. That is why he slept during the storm, completely secure in the arms of God.

But the moment would come when even Jesus would feel anguish and fear: and when his time came, he would feel in himself all the weight of the sins of men, like a cresting wave about to break over him.

And yes, that would be a terrible storm, not cosmic, but spiritual. It would be the last and most extreme assault of evil against the Son of God.

But at that moment, Jesus did not doubt the power of God the Father nor his nearness, even if he had to experience in full the distance of hatred from love, of falsehood from truth, of sin from grace. He experienced this drama in himself in a lacerating way, especially on Gethsemane, before his arrest, and then, during the entire passion up to his death on the Cross.

In that time, Jesus was, on the one hand, completely one with the Father, abandoned fully to him. On the other hand, in common with all sinners, he felt separated and abandoned by him.

Some saints have lived intensely and personally this experience of Jesus. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was one of them. A simple man, of humble origins, "taken possession of by Christ" (Phil 3,12) - as the Apostle Paul write - to make him a chosen instrument of the perennial power of his Cross: the power of love for all souls, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of spiritual paternity, of concrete solidarity with those who suffer.

The stigmata which marked his body united him intimately to the Crucified and Resurrected Lord. An authentic follower of St. Francis of Assisi, he took upon himself, as did the Poverello, the experience of the Apostle Paul as he describes it in his letters: "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2, 19-20).

This does not mean alienation nor loss of personality - God never cancels out the human, but transforms it with his Spirit and orients it to serving his plan of salvation. Padre Pio kept his own natural gifts, and even his own temperament, but he offered everything to God so he could serve him freely to extend the work of Christ - to announce the Gospel, to remit sins and heal the sick in spirit and in the body.

As it was for Jesus, the true battle, the radical combat that Padre Pio had to bear was not against earthly enemies but against the spirit of evil (cfr Eph 6.12).

The greatest 'storms' that menaced him were the assaults of he devil, from which he defended himself with the 'weapons of God', with 'the shield of faith' and 'the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Eph 6,11.16.17).

Remaining united to Jesus, he always kept in sight the profundity of the human tragedy, and for this he offered himself and his many sufferings, he spent himself in the care and comfort of the sick: a sign of the mercy of God, of his Kingdom which will come - or, rather, is already in this world - of the victory of love and life over sin and death.

To guide souls and relieve suffering - thus we can summarize the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, as the Servant of God Pope Paul VI said of him, "he was a man of prayer and suffering" (To the Capuchin Chapter Fathers, 20 February 1971).

Dear friends, Capuchin friars minor, members of the prayer groups and the faithful of San Giovanni Rotondo, you are the heirs of Padre Pio, and the legacy he left you is holiness.

In one of his letters, he writes: "It seems Jesus had no other concern but to sanctify your souls" (Epistolary II, p. 155). This was always his first concern, his priestly and paternal anxiety: that the person returns to God, that he might experience God's mercy and, renewed interiorly, rediscover the beauty and the joy of being Christian, of living in communion with Jesus, of belonging to his Church and practising the Gospel.

Padre Pio attracted others to his way of holiness with his own testimony, showing by example the 'binary' track which leads to it: prayer and charity.

First of all, prayer. Like all great men of God, Padre Pio became prayer himself, body and soul. His days were a lived rosary, that is, a continuous meditation and assimilation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with the the Virgin Mary.

That explains the singular simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and human concreteness. Everything culminated in the celebration of Holy Mass - in which he united himself completely to the Lord who had died and resurrected.

From prayer, as from an always living spring, came charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, always attentive to the real situations of persons and families.

He felt the special predilection of the Heart of Christ for the sick and the suffering, and it is from this that his project took origin and shape for a great work dedicated to the 'relief of suffering'. Such an institution cannot be understood nor interpreted adequately apart from its source of inspiration, which is evangelical charity, inspired in turn by prayer.

All this, dearest ones, Padre Pio re-proposes today to our attention. The risks of activism and secularization are always present. That is why my visit also has the purpose of confirming you in faithfulness to the mission you inherited from your beloved Father.

Many of you, religious and laymen, may have been so caught up in the thousands of demands for service to pilgrims or to the patients in the hospital, that you may risk neglecting what is truly necessary: to listen to Christ in order to comply with the will of God.

Whenever you feel that you are running this risk, look to Padre Pio, to his example, his sufferings - and invoke his intercession, so that you may obtain from the Lord the light and the strength that you need to continue with a mission that weaves together love for God and fraternal charity.

From heaven, may he continue to exercise that exquisite spiritual fatherhood that distinguished him during his earthly existence; may he continue to accompany his brothers, his spiritual children, and the entire work that he began.

Together with St. Francis and Our Lady, whom he so loved and made loved in this world, may he always watch over you and protect you. Then, even in the storms that can arise unexpectedly, may you experience the breath of the Holy Spirit which is stronger than any contrary wind and propels the boat of the Church and each of us.

That is why we must always live in serenity and cultivate joy in our hearts, giving thanks to the Lord: "Your love is for always" (Resp. Psalm). Amen.



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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


More than 50,000 attended
the Pope's Mass today

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San Giovanni Rotondo, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - More than 50,000 faithful were in attendance at the Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI today in front of the futuristic church of San Pio, according to the spokesman of the shrine.

No sooner had the Pope imparted the concluding blessing for the Mass and Angelus, then a torrential rain came down again which created quite a problem for the Massgoers trying to leave after the Mass.

Bad weather had earlier caused the Pope to be flown from Rome in a military airplane to Foggia military airbase instead of the planned helicopter ride straight to San Giovanni Rotondo. Despite the rain, the faithful lined both sides of the 4-kilometer route of his Popemobile through the streets of San Giovanni Rotondo.

Since the main piazza was designed to hold only 30,000, Massgoers had spilled over into the piazza in front of the old shrine (Santa Maria delle Grazie), along the entire via Cappuccini leading to it and surrounding streets.

The rain stopped and the clouds lifted just before the Mass began.

A visibly emotional Benedict XVI concelebrated the Mass with Cardinal tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State; Cardinal Salvatore Di Giorgi, who is a Pugliese; and all the bishops of Puglia.

The Pope used the pyx [container for the hosts) and chalice used by Padre Pio for his daily Masses, which had also been used for the Mass John Paul II offered when he visited San Giovanni Rotondo in 1987.

[The rest of the story quotes from the Pope's Angelus message, posted in full translation lower down on this post.]


PHOTO POST-SCRIPTS TO THE MASS -
CATERINA'S VIDEOCAPS


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THE POPE'S MESSAGES
AT ANGELUS TODAY


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At the end of the Mass celebrated in front of the Church of St. Pio this morning, the Pope led the recitation of the Angelus. Here is a translation of his words before the prayers:


Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this solemn celebration, I invite you to recite with me - as you do every Sunday - the Marian prayer of the Angelus.

Here, at the shrine of San Pio da Pietrelcina, we seem to hear his voice exhorting us to turn our filial hearts to the Blessed Virgin: "Love Our Lady, and make her be loved".

Baptized at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Pietrelcina with the name Francesco, he always felt a very tender love for the Virgin like the Poverello of Assisi.

Providence then led him here, to San Giovanni Rotondo, at the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where he remained until he died and where his mortal remains rest.

Thus, all his life and his apostolate took place under the maternal regard of Our Lady and with the power of her intercession. Even the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza he considered to be a work of Mary, 'health of the sick'.

Therefore, dear friends, following the example of Padre Pio, I wish to entrust you today to the maternal protection of the Mother of God.

I specially invoke it for the community of the Capuchin brothers, for the patients in the hospital and for those who take loving care of them, as well as the Prayer Groups who carry forward in Italy and in the world the spiritual legacy of their sainted founder.

To the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Pio da Pietrelcina, I also wish to entrust in a special way the Year of Priests that I opened last Friday, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May this year be a privileged occasion to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests in the service of the church and of mankind in the third millennium.

Let us also pray today for the difficult and often tragic situation of refugees. Yesterday was the World Day for Refugees, promoted by teh United Nations.

There are many persons today who seek refuge in other countries fleeing situations of war, persecution and calamity, and accepting them poses not a few difficulties, but it is nonetheless a duty.

God grant that with the commitment of everyone, we will succeed as soon as possible to take away the causes of a phenomenon as sad as this.

With great affection, I greet all the pilgrims who have come here. I express my gratitude to the civilian authorities and all who worked together to prepare for my visit. I thank you from the heart.

To all, I repeat: walk along the path that Padre Pio has shown you, the way of holiness according to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Along this way, the Virgin Mary will always precede you, and with her maternal hand, she will guide you to the celestial homeland.


After the prayers, he had a special greeting for the Polish people:

From San Giovanni Rotondo, at the shrine of St Pio of Pietrelcina, I cordially greet the Polish people, particularly those taking part in the millenary celebration of the martyrdom of St. Bruno of Querfurt, who today, in Giżycko, thank the Lord for the gift of faith brought by this great missionary.

May his efforts for good relations among nations bear fruit in concord among them and in zeal for announcing the Gospel. I bless you all from the heart.



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From the Shrine, the Holy Father proceeded to the Casa di Sofferenza for lunch and a brief rest.


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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


VISIT TO
CASA SOLLIEVO DI SOFFERENZA


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Padre Pio's flagship charity has grown over the years from the initial 250-bed primary-care hospital he inaugurated in 1956 Lower right, inset photo) to the sprawling tertiary-care specialized hospital today with 1200 beds and a building complex that is almost most a mini-city, recognized as one of Europe's best hospitals.


Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address to the patients, staff and personnel of the Casa Sollievo di Sofferenza this afternoon (6/21):



Dear brothers and sisters,
dear patients:

On this visit of mine to San Giovanni Rotondo, I could not fail to come to the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza which was conceived and created by St. Pio of Pietrelcina as a "place of prayer and science where the human species comes together in the Crucified Christ as one single flock with a single shepherd."

Because of this, he entrusted it to the material and, above all, spiritual support of the Prayer Groups who have here the center of their mission of service to the Church.

Padre Pio intended that in this well-equipped health facility, one could experience first hand that the commitment of science to cure the sick should never be separated from filial trust in God, who is infinitely kind and merciful.

When he inaugurated it on May 5, 1956, he called it 'a creature of Providence' and spoke of this institution as "a seed deposited by God on earth that he will warm with the rays of his love".

So here am I among you to thank God for the good which, faithful to the instructions of a humble Capuchin friar, you have been doing for more than 50 years in this house for the relief of suffering, with well-known results on both the scientific and medical levels.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for me, much as I wish it, to visit every ward and greet the patients one by one, as well as those who are taking care of them.

But I do wish to extend to each one - patients, doctors, relatives, health care workers and pastoral workers - a word of paternal comfort and encouragement to continue on with this evangelical work for the relief of suffering lives, utilizing every resource for the human and spiritual good of the sick and their families.

With these sentiments, I greet all of you, starting with you, brothers and sisters, who are being tried through illness. I greet the doctors, nurses and the health care and administrative personnel. I greet you, venerated Capuchin Fathers who, as chaplains, are continuing the apostolate of your sainted brother friar.

I greet the [relates, first of all, Archbishop Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio, who has been the pastor of this diocese and who has been called to guide the archdiocese of Lecce - I am grateful to him for the words he delivered in your behalf.

I greet the Director General of the hospital, Dr. Domenico Crupi, and the representative of the patients - I appreciate the kind words that they have just now addressed to me, which have allowed me to better know what is being done here and the spirit in which it is being done.

Every time one enters a place of healing, one thinks naturally of the mystery of sickness and pain, of the hope for healing, and the inestimable value of good health which we often do not realize until we lose it.

In hospitals, one sees firsthand the preciousness of existence, but also its fragility. Following the example of Jesus, who travelled throughout Galilee, "curing every disease and illness among the people" (Mt 4,23), the Church from its beginnings, moved by the Holy Spirit, has always considered it as its duty and privilege to be at the side of those who suffer, with preferential attention to the sick.

Illness, which manifests itself in so many forms and strikes in different ways, raises disquieting questions: Why do we suffer? Can one consider the experience of pain to be positive? Who can liberate us from suffering and death?

These are existential questions which remain humanly unanswerable for the most part, since suffering constitutes an enigma that is inscrutable to human reason. Suffering is part of the mystery of the human being himself.

It is what I underscored in my encyclical Spe salvi, noting that "it stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today".

I added that "Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power
simply because... none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil... a constant source of suffering." (cfr No, 36).

Only God can eliminate the power of evil. Precisely because Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the divine plan for our salvation, faith helps us to penetrate the sense of everything human, and therefore, even of suffering.

Thus there exists an intimate relation between the Cross of Jesus - symbol of supreme pain and the price of our true freedom - and our pain, which is transformed and sublimated in the knowledge of the nearness and solidarity of God.

Padre Pio sensed this profound truth and on the first anniversary of inaugurating this particular work, he said that in this hospital, "the suffering person must experience the love of God through the wise acceptance of his pains, in serene meditation of his destiny" (Address on May 5, 1957).

He also noted that in the Casa Sollievo, "patients, doctors and priests shall be reservoirs of love, which the more it is abundant in oneself, the more it is communicated to others" (ibid.).

To be a 'reservoir of love": This, brothers and sisters, is the mission that our Saint reminds you tonight, you who in diverse ways make up the great family of this Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza.

May the Lord help you to realize the project begun by Padre Pio with the contribution of everyone: doctors and scientific researchers, health care workers and various administrative personnel, volunteers and benefactors, Capuchin friars and other priests.

Not to forget the Prayer Groups who "alongside the Casa del Sollievo, are the front lines of this citadel of charity, nurseries of faith, hearths of love" (Padre Pio, address on May 6, 1966).

On all and on each one I invoke the intercession of Padre Pio and the maternal protection of Mary, health of the sick.

I thank you once more for your hospitality, and as I assure you of my prayers, I bless you all from the heart.




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Posted 6/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


MEETING WITH CLERGY,
RELIGIOUS AND YOUNG PEOPLE


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Cover illustration: Icon, 'I bear the stigmata of Christ in my body', Anna Maria di Domenico, 1999. Provincial Curia of the Capuchins, Foggia


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Dear priests,
dear religious men and women,
dear young people!

With this meeting, my pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo comes to a close. I am grateful to the Archbishop of Lecce, Apostolic Administrator of this diocese, Mons. Domenico Umberto d’Ambrosio, and Fr. Mauro Jöhri, Minister General of the Capuchin Friars Minor, for the kind words that they have addressed to me in your name.

And now my greeting extends to you, dear priests, who are engaged daily in service to the people of God as wise guides and assiduous workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

I also greet affectionately our dear consecrated persons who are called to offer testimony of total dedication to Christ through the faithful practice of evangelical counsel.

And a special thought for you, dear Capuchin friars, who lovingly tend these homes of spirituality and evangelical solidarity, welcoming pilgrims and devotees drawn here by the living memory of your sainted brother Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

I thank you from the heart for this precious service that you render to the Church and to the souls who rediscover here the beauty of faith and the warmth of divine kindness.

And I greet you, dear young people, to whom the Pope looks with confidence as the future of the Church and of society.

Here, in San Giovanni Rotondo, everything speaks of the holiness of a humble friar and zealous priest, who this evening invites us to open our hearts to the mercy of God. He exhorts us to be saints, that is, sincere and true friends of Jesus. And I thank you for the words of your youth representative.

Dear priests, just the other day, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and World Day of Priestly Sanctification, we began the Year for Priests, during which we remember with veneration and affection the 150th death anniversary of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curate of Ars.

In the letter that I wrote for the occasion, I wished to underscore how important the holiness of priests is to the life and mission of the Church.

Like the holy Curate of Ars, Padre Pio reminds us of the dignity and responsibility of the priestly ministry.

Who has not been struck by the fervor with which he relived the Passion of Christ in every Eucharistic celebration? From his love for the Eucharist, there flowed from him, as from the Holy Curate of Ars, a total availability to all the faithful, especially sinners.

Moreover, if St. Jean Marie Vianney, in a troubled and difficult period, sought in every way to make his parishioners rediscover the meaning and the beauty of sacramental penance, for the holy Friar of Gargano, the care of souls and the conversion of sinners was a desire that consumed him until his death.

How many persons changed their lives thanks to his patient priestly ministry! How many long hours he spent in the confessional! As for the holy Curate of Ars, it was the ministry of confessor which constituted his biggest claim to glory and the distinctive characteristic of the holy Capuchin.

How can we not then be aware of the importance of taking part devoutly in the Eucharistic celebration and to avail frequently of the sacrament of Confession?

In particular, the sacrament of Penance must be better valued, and priests must never be resigned to seeing their confessionals deserted nor limit themselves to observing the disaffection of the faithful for this extraordinary source of serenity and peace.

There is another great teaching that we can draw from the life of Padre Pio: the value and necessity of prayer. To whoever asked him what he thought of himself, he usually answered, "I am only a poor friar who prays".

Indeed he prayed - always and everywhere - with humility, trust and perseverance. Here then is a fundamental point not only for the spirituality of a priest, but for that of every Christian, but even more for yours, dear religious men and women, who have been chosen to be closer to Christ through practising your vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Sometimes you may be overcome by discouragement at the weakening and even the abandonment of the faith which has taken place in our secularized societies.

Certainly, one must seek new channels for communicating the evangelical truth to the men and women of our time, but since the essential content of the Christian announcement must always remain the same, one must go back to its original source, to Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday, today, and for always" (Heb 13,8).

The human and spiritual experience of Padre Pio teaches us that only a soul who is intimately united to the Crucified Lord can succeed in transmitting even to those who are far away the joy and the richness of the Gospel.

Love of Christ is inevitably united with love for his Church, guided and inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which each of us has a role and a mission to fulfill.

Dear priests, dear religious men and women, you all have different tasks assigned to you as well as different charisms, but the spirit with which to realize them must be one and the same so that your presence and activity among the Christian people may be eloquent testimonials to the primacy of God in your existence. Was this not perhaps what everyone perceived in St. Pio of Pietrelcina?

Allow me now to address a special word to the young people whom I see here numerous and enthusiastic.

Dear friends, thank you for your warm welcome and for the fervent sentiments that your representative expressed in your behalf.

I have noted that the pastoral plan for your diocese for the triennium 2007-2010 dedicates a lot of attention to the mission to the youth and to the family, and I am sure that through the itinerary of listening, confrontation, dialog and verification in which you have been engaged, there will come forth an ever greater attention to families and a ready ear to listen to the real expectations of the new generations.

I am aware of the problems which assail you, dear boys and girls, which threaten to suffocate the enthusiasms typical of youth. Among these, in particular, I would cite unemployment which dramatically affects not a few young people in the South of Italy.

But do not lose heart! You are 'young people with great heart', as you have been told often this year with the Diocesan Youth Mission which was inspired and led by the Regional Seminary of Molfetta last September.

The Church will not abandon you. Do not abandon the Church! Your contribution is needed to build living Christian communities and societies that are more just and open to hope.

And if you wish to keep a big heart, enlist yourself in the school of Jesus. Just the other day, we contemplated his big heart full of love for humanity. He will never abandon you nor betray your trust - he will never lead you down the wrong paths.

Like Padre Pio, be faithful friends of the Lord Jesus, carrying on with him a daily relationship through prayer and listening to his Word, the assiduous practice of the sacraments, and heartfelt belonging to his family which is the Church.

This should be the basis for your program for life, each of you, dear young people, as also you, dear priests, and you, dear religious men and women.

For each and everyone, I assure my prayers as I implore the maternal protection of Santa Maria delle Grazie to watch over you from her shrine in whose crypt repose the mortal remains of Padre Pio.

I thank you from my heart, once more, for your welcome, and I bless you all, along with your families, communities, parishes and the entire diocese.

Thank you.



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Footnote on the pilgrimage Church of San Pio:
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It has been controversial since its design was first made known because its ultra-modern design by one of Italy's best-known contemporary architects, Renzo Piano, is such a contrast to the person and temperament of Padre Pio. It was built to accommodate 6,500 seated, with a piazza designed to hold 30,000.

It's hard to find pictures of the interior and its fixtures, but I really find the hanging Cross (shown in the photos with the Pope) rather monstrous. It looks to me like a giant guerilla's bandolier, bristling with lance-shaped bullets.


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Posted 6/22/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


Pope ends pilgrimage by blessing
future resting place of Padre Pio

by Salvatore Izzo
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San Giovanni Rotondo, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - The Pope's last act before going back to Rome this evening was to bless the 'lower church' of the futuristic pilgrimage Church of San Padre Pio designed by Renzo Piano in which traditionalists claim to see many Masonic symbols.

In a yet-to-be-determined future this is where the mortal remains of the saint are supposed to rest eventually.

One must use the conditional because even at the end of the public exposition in September, the body will remain in the crypt of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the modest building that Padre Pio called a 'matchbox'.

But among the mosaics and frescoes of the Jesuit artist Mark Rupnik decorating the lower church blessed by the Pope today is a marker commemorating today's event, stating that this will be the place where the saint's body will be kept in custody.

This effectively declares a fait accompli to all those who oppose the transfer even while a decision about this is still awaited from the Congregation for the Causes of Sainthood.

In any case, Archbishop Domenico D'Ambrosio, who has been named bishop of Lecce, will be leaving his successor significant problems, especially since some extremists have accused nim of profaning a cadaver for having authorized the exhumation of the saint's body last year.

Whoever takes his place must be a courageous man because both the Capuchin Order which built the new church and the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza - the huge hospital founded by Padre Pio to offer first-rate medical asasistance to the South of Italy - are debt-ridden despite the millions of pilgrims coming every year.

Huge crowds are not news in San Giovanni Rotondo, and they were there today: at least 50,000 persons attended the Pope's Mass. Nor did the rain turn away those who stood against the police barriers all day to catch a glimpse of the Pope as his Popemobile went by.

In the same way, all the polemical talk that preceded this trip failed to dampen the Pope's spirits.

"The risks of activism and secularization," he said, addressing the local clergy and perhaps, the Capuchins most of all, "are always present, and that is why my visit also has the purpose of confirming you in faithfulness to the mission you inherited from your most beloved Padre Pio."

"Sometimes you may be too caught up in the many demands required in serving the needs of pilgrims, or of patients in the hospital," he pointed out, "that you risk neglecting what is truly necessary: listening to Christ in order to comply with the will of God."

[The bulk of the story is made up of more citations from the Pope's four texts today - all of which are posted on this page in full translations.]

The theologian Pope began his visit to San Giovanni Rotondo by venerating the remains of the saint in the crypt chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Padre Pio had lived, worked and died.

The Capuchin spokesman said "The Pope venerated the body kneeling down - it was a very intense moment."

Among the Capuchins who joined the Pope in the crypt were Fr. Paolo Covino, 90, who had given the last rites to Padre Pio, and the legendary Fra Modestino, even older, the best-known of Padre Pio's disciples.

For years now, pilgrims form long lines, even as early as 4 o'clock in the morning, at Fra Modestino's gatekeeper's lodge but because of his age, he is no longer able to bless everybody.


In the absence of the right photos to illustrate this item, I am posting two of the images I found very striking in today's coverage:

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The Crucifix that is the centerpiece of the altar stage is in the style of Fr. Rupnik's mosaics. Details of some of these scenes were used to illustrate yesterday's Mass libretto. Rupnik and his group executed 56 scenes from the lives of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, and Padre Pio, in gilt mosaic to decorate the 'lower church' which the Pope inaugurated yesterday.
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Posted 6/22/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


'The Pope won the hearts of the people',
says bishop after Benedict's memorable
visit to Padre Pio's shrine

Translated from
the Italian service of

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Left. Mons. D'Ambrosio with the Pope; top right photo, greeting him at the encounter with priests, religious and young people yesterday afternoon at the pilgrimage Church of San Pio; and bottom right photo, Mons. D'Ambrosio (left) opening the coffin of Padre Pio in March last year with the saint's Capuchin custodians.

It was a very intense visit focused on the spirituality of Padre Pio. But for an assessment of the Pope's day in San Giovanni Rotondo yesterday, correspondent Debora Donnini spoke to Mons. Domenico D'Ambrosio, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese since he was named to be Archbishop of Lecce earlier this year.

The bishop summarized what he believed to be the most important points conveyed by the Holy Father in his four public addresses yesterday.


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MONS. D'AMBROSIO: The Pope went far beyond our expectations - and I could see that from the enthusiastic and smiling faces of the people. But when he entered into the heart of our problems today, he also entered their hearts.

It got to us particularly, we who live here, whom he comforted and oriented towards imitating Padre Pio's witness, adapting a program for life that flows from holiness.

He reminded us that holiness is possible for everyone, and that we are called on to see in San Pio da Pietrelcina not just a model of holiness but a support for the path that we should follow in life.


Basically, the Pope is saying that Padre Pio is very much alive in his message which remains strong and important for the world today...
I would say that he re-proposed the life of Padre Pio by showing that he led the life Jesus asked of his disciples. He spoke to us of the love of God which must be embodied credibly in our lives, especially a love that leads to sharing, to solidarity, and which makes us compassionate towards those who suffer. And that was Padre Pio's great work of charity.

But he also reminded us of the primacy of prayer, warned us against the temptations and risks in contemporary society, in the midst of which we should keep our sights fixed on Jesus.

He urged the young people to program themselves for an authentic life according to the model Jesus proposed to his disciples. I think young people feel a strong bond to this Pope who urges them to be what they can be - new blood for the Church in today's world which is in many ways enslaved by temptations, fears and uncertainties.


In the afternoon meeting, the Pope embraced you after you asked him to bless your coming mission, as you will be leaving San Giovanni Rotondo for Lecce soon...
I was very comforted - the Pope was very generous with his words which I certainly do not deserve. But this says to me that he is carrying out his ministry - he confirmed me in my service which cannot be tied to a place, or to persons, but a service for the Kingdom of God. And I am very grateful for the affection he showed to me. He comforts me, and that means I can go ahead with serenity.


What has the figure of Padre Pio given you personally during your years in this diocese?
A lot. I was here as a parish priest for 20 years and so I knew him then. And then to return here decades leter and be responsible for his Shrine and for the Works of Padre Pio has drawn me much closer to his figure than ever.

If there is one thing he has left me, at a distance of 44 years from meeting him, that close encounter made me feel the responsibility of not wasting his gift, his legacy. And the gift he has best left me is the Mass, which I have been celebrating since then with a commitment, a joy, an openness and a total sense of offering that I had not felt before.



It's been very frustrating that most newsphoto coverage of the Pope is generally quite unrepresentative - there are never enough (sometimes none at all) photos showing the crowds and individuals, nor photos showing other moments of liturgy other than Consecration and Communion. I got the additional photos on this post from going through the photogallery of ANSA and Repubblica, much of which were repeats of what we got from the Anglophone newsphoto agencies, but there were these few that gives us a better 'sense' of the event. Still far from satisfactory, but at least something...

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P.S. I still have not seen any pictures taken at the Pope's visit to the Casa Sollievo da Sofferenza, and stories in the Italian newspapers today added no details except to quote some words from the representative of the patients who addressed the Pope.

There is this sidebar from AGI's enterprising Salvatore Izzo, which I will post here - even if it is 'trivia' - with the rest of the San Giovanni Rotondo coverage, of which it is a part:
:


The Pope lunches at
Padre Pio's hospital

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-3%20052208/AGI.jpg[/IMG]


SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, June 21 (Translated from AGI) - The cooks at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza - the mega-hospital founded by Padre Pio that now serves the south of Italy - prepared a special menu for the Pope who lunched with Bishop Domenico D'Ambrosio at the hospital yesterday.

This consisted of a sformatino (a custard made of pureed vegetables and cream) as antipasto; the region's typical orechiette (ear-shaped pasta) with tomatoes and arugula; a grilled filet, seeved with mint-flavored beans, a burratina (soft cheese ball consisting of different cheeses), and ricotta cooked in wine; and for dessert, sliced pineapple in lemon sauce with cherries, ice cream and a 'torta letizia' (an almond and vanilla flavored cake).

This meal, like all the meals served at the hospital, was cooked with ingredients all coming from the farm Padre Pio had set up to produce all the food specifically for the hospital, since he considered a healthy diet as indispensable to any curative regimen.

The farm has its own abattoir for the cows that it raises, a dairy and a cheese factory.


P.S. Here's the best sidebar item so far from San Giovanni Rotondo, courtesy of OR corrspondent Mario Ponzi:

Does anyone else remember that
Joseph Ratzinger's second
baptismal name is Alois? He does!



After the Mass, some moments of familiarity among the ministrants. The Pope, having taken off his liturgical robes, greeted his ministrants (local clergy) one by one. They were presented to him by Archbishop D'Ambrosio.

Presenting one young altarboy, the prelate said, "Holiness, you may wish him a happy name day - today is the feast of St. Aloysius (Luigi in Italian) and his name is Luigi."

The Pope smiled, held out his hand, and said, "Now, wish me back too because my second name is Luigi (he was of course christened Joseph Alois!).


Which gives our beloved Pope five name days during the year - the two feast days for St. Joseph, the two for St. Benedict, and that of St. Aloysius Gonzaga.


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Posted 6/22/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


PHOTOS FROM TOMORROW'S
ISSUE OF L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO



[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090622-23-OR-P1.jpg[/IMG]

The double issue for tomorrow, 6/22-6/23, has a few more pictures
to add to the photo record of the Pope's visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-5-LOWERCHURCH-OR.jpg[/IMG]
The photo they chose for Page 1 gives us an idea of the 'lower church' of the modernistic pilgrimage Church of San Pio, which they Pope inaugurated yesterday afternoon as his last activity in San Giovanni Rotondo. A marker to commemorate the occasion says that this will be the eventual resting place for the mortal remains of Padre Pio.


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-4-ENCOUNTERS-OR.jpg[/IMG]
A photograph taken during the Pope's encounter with clergy, religious and youth in the main church area shows a few interior details of the futuristic structure.

Unfortunately, the issue provides little detail about the trip, or previous trips for that matter. One would expect some more detail and 'color' from the OR than from regular media because their reporters have privileged access. But in this as in many other things, it seems it does not follow regular journalistic standards.

For instance, there is no story to accompany the Page 1 picture (the info given above is from Italian media reporting); the event is not even mentioned in the wrap-up story. There is a brief story that summarizes the main points of the four papal texts delivered yesterday; an editorial by Giovanni Vian on 'The hearts of saints' referring to the hearts of St. Jean Marie Vianney and St Padre Pio that Benedict XVI had occasion to venerate within a few days of each other; and an item that San Giovanni Rotondo will 'twin' with the Pope's birthplace Marktl-am-Inn, as it did two decades ago with Wadowice, John Paul II's birthplace. And, of course, all four papal texts.

P.S. I apologize - There are two other items that give some details of the Pope's day in San Giovanni Rotondo. One of them is about the Pope's visit with the patients and staff at the Casa Sofferenza, with ample extracts from the words spoken by the patients' representative. The other story is about the encounter with the clergy, religious and young people, which also cites something of what their representatives told the Pope. So I am grateful to OR for that - and for the additional photos.



[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-5-EXTRAS-OR-1.jpg[/IMG]
On the way to the Mass, the Popemobile goes through the crowd which filled every inch of the huge plaza in front of the Church of San Pio; and an uncaptioned photo shows the Pope walking through that plaza, now empty, obviously in the afternoon. {A truly unusual photograph!]


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-5-EXTRAS-OR-2.jpg[/IMG]
At the Mass. The reliquary containing Padre Pio's heart is on the pedestal next to the Pope in the right photo.


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-3-CASA-OR.jpg[/IMG]
The Pope with, I presume, the cancer patient who greeted him in the name of the patients. OR never labels the pictures it posts online, and is erratic about labelling photos they use on Page 1. Just one of their journalistic quirks!



[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-1-SANTAMARIA-ORrev.jpg[/IMG]
The Pope venerating the remains of Padre Pio.


I also wish to note that the OR has been remiss in coming out with the special issues on the Pope's trip to Africa and his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They have come out with three special 'travel issues' so far, the US, Australia and France - and in each case, it was shortly after the event.


P.S. A traditionalist blogger on
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/FIDESFORMA.jpg[/IMG]
who has been the most vehement in denouncing the supposedly
Masonic symbOlogy and intent of the futuristic Church of San Pio
today carries a picture of the mosaic marker pre-installed for
the Pope's visit [Encircling mine]:

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/090621-5-LOWERCHURCH-MARKER.jpg[/IMG]


Translation: "On the occasion of the pastoral visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI
to this church made precious by the devotion of the faithful and the beauty of art
to keep custody over the body of San Pio da Pietrelcina, he came in prayer and
blessed it. Sunday, 21 June 2009
- The Capuchin Friars Minor of the Province of Foggia"



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Posted 7/16/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


Anticipating Sept. 6
papal visit to Viterbo

Translated from
the Italian service of

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/RV-NEW.jpg[/IMG]
July 14, 2009


[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-1%20TO%20041408/0-VITERBO-TEMP.jpg[/IMG]


Mons. Lorenzo Chiarinelli, bishop of Viterbo, said he expects the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to his diocese on Sept. 6 to be 'serene and fruitful'.

He presented the diocesan plans for the Pope's welcome to the city council on Monday. Amedeo Lomonaco has a report:

The program for the Pope's visit will be shaped by the diocese's two patron saints. St. Rosa of Viterbo and St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, whose liturgical feast the Church observes today.

The history of Viterbo and its surroundings has been profoundly woven with the history of the Church over the centuries and with specific Pontificates. It calls itself the city of Popes because five Popes were elected there and 50 Popes have visited.

Mons. Chiarinelli said Benedict XVI's visit will favor "a reflowering of the roots of Viterbo for a fresh appreciation of its past history as a papal city".

The Pope will arrive by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, landing at the city's sporting field, from which he will drive to the Palace of the Popes where he will give his first greeting to the citizenry. He will then proceed to the city's Faul valley to celebrate Mass and lead in the Angelus prayer.

In the afternoon, the Pope will see Viterbo's unique Macchina di Santa Rosa, an elaborate tower on which the statue of the saint is carried in a unique candlelight procession every year on Sept. 3 to commemorate the translation of her incorrupt body in 1268 from her simple grave as a Poor Clare to the Church now dedicated to her and which is the city's Cathedral.. (Rosa lived a brief life, 1233-1251, which was marked by many miraculous healings, and Viterbo believes her protection saved the city from the great pestilence of 1657.)

The 30-foot Macchina, weighing about half a ton, is carried by specially selected devotees from the Porta Romana to the Basilica of Santa Rosa through a kilometre of winding streets, up and down hill, while the lights of the city are turned off.

He will venerate the saint at the Cathedral and then proceed to the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia, where he will pray with the nuns from the cloistered orders of Viterbo.

He will then proceed to nearby Bagnoregio where he will venerate the relics of St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, who was the subject of his habilitation dissertation in 1955. He will then address the citizens of Bagnoregio from the town square, before returning to Castel Gandolfo.

Isabella Piro spoke to Mons. Chiarinelli, who said:

"I wish for two things from this visit. One is that the Pope, who comes to confirm us in the faith, will reawaken in the hearts of everyone the need and the joy of believing. Faith, especially for the younger generations, is the energy which leads us towards the goal for which we live.

"My second wish is that it may lead to a repair of so much fragmentation in society on the level of culture, of religious experience, the economy and politics - that the sense of unity may prevail over differences, so that our society may truly be based on freedom, truth, love and justice.

"These, I hope, will be the fruits of the Pope's visit."

The bishop also spoke of St. Bonaventure's legacy:

"To live the faith in the light of the saint's theology means to walk alongside the mystery of Christ within the dynamism of changing times, sustained by hope, which is a guaranteed certainty of attaining fullness of life. We must not escape from facing the challenges of history, time, society. Bonaventure teaches us to live within our time, but with the certainty that St. Paul spoke of - we are in quest of our future homeland." (NB: Prof. Ratzinger's dissertation was about Bonaventure's theology of history).

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Posted 7/16/09 in the BENEDICT thread:
(I am including the Pope's previously unprogrammed visit to the Cathedral of Aosta during his Les Combes vacation as a 'pastoral visit'.)


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Pope Benedict to pay homage
to St. Anselm on July 24
at Aosta Cathedral

[IMG]http://i265.photobucket.com/albums/ii232/TERESA7_album/FORUM-2/ANSA.jpg[/IMG]


AOSTA, July 16, 2009 (Translated from ANSA) - Pope Benedict XVI will pay homage to St. Anselm of Canterbury, a native of Aosta, whose ninth death centenary is being observed this year, when he visits the Cathedral of Aosta on Friday afternoon, July 24, to celebrate Vespers with the diocesan clergy=, religious and seminarians.

The Cathedral of Aosta, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, recently underwent extensive restoration in preparation for the Anselmian Year (Anno Anselmiano) observed by the region of Val D'Aosta and the diocese.

An addition to the cathedral for this jubilee year is a 'Tribute to Saint Anselm' cenotaph executed by English sculptor Stephen Cox which has been set up at the southern entrance to the church.

The Pope will also use the occasion for his now-customary question-and-answer session with the diocesan clergy.

After John Paul II, who came to Aosta for a pastoral visit in 1984, Benedict XVI will be the second Pope to visit the Cathedral, which was built in the 11th century on the site of a 4th century church, and extensively remodelled in the 16th century.

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-AOSTA-CATHEDRAL-1A2.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-AOSTA-CATHEDRAL-1B4.jpg[/IMG]
In the second picture of the bottom panel above, St. Anselm on the left facade of the Cathedral of Aosta.

The region has planned a program of religious and cultural events to celebrate the life and thought of Anselm, one of the great medieval doctors of the Church, who was a Benedictine monk, theologian and philosopher, and to foster appreciation for the region's cultural patrimony.


P.S. [IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/APCOM.jpg[/IMG] reports that the Pope will not hold a Q&A with the clergy this time. He will celebrate Vespers with them and give a homily.


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Posted 7/17/09 in the BENEDICT thread:
(I am including the Pope's visit to Romano Canavese in the Diocese of Ivrea, durhis vacation in Les Combes, for the Angelus on Sunday 7/29/09, in this thread.)


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Great media interest in
the Pope's Canavese Angelus

by Marco Campagnolo
Translated from
an Ivrea news portal

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/BANNERS-LOGOS/LOCALPORT.jpg[/IMG]
July 16, 2009


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-MAP-ROMCAN-IVREA.jpg[/IMG]


IVREA - Everyone is pleased in the diocesan Curia, starting with Bishop Arrigo Miglio, about the media coverage anticipated for the Pope's visit on Sunday to lead the Angelus at Piazza Ruggia in nearby Romano Canavese.

No one expected th4 number of requests for media accreditation received by the diocese for a visit that is not official.

Yesterday, diocesan press spokesman Don Stefano Fogliato said that part of the media requests come from other European countries and Latin America.

On television, it will be covered by 6 national TV channels, including one from Eastern Europe, three satellite TV outlets, the regional TV of both Piedmont and Val D'Aosta, and two Ivrean channels.

Thirteen news agencies, including ones from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland and Mexico, have also accredited reporters and photographers, aside form the national and regional newspapers and magazines.

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-MAP-ROMCANBERTONEMIGLIO.jpg[/IMG]
Left, Mons. Miglio with Cardinal Bertone; right, map shows location of Romano Canavese in relation to Les Combes. Turin is 40 miles to the south, Milan 80 miles to the east.

Mons. Miglio opened the news conference by saying, "The Pope has given us a gift by coming to us during his vacation, and he is doing this as a sign of his friendship and esteem for our Cardinal Bertone [who was born in Romano Canavese). He has worked with Cardinal Ratzinger since 1988. Being called to become Secretary of State confirmed the esteem that the Holy Father has for him. The visit to Romano is a visit to Bertone and to his roots, and a sign of affection for him and his townspeople".

To accommodate overflow from Piazza Ruggia in front of the parish church, jumbo TV screens will be set up in other places like Piazza Sarti, where the Bertone family residence is located, and which the Pope will be visiting; and in the parish churches of Strambino and Scarmagno.

The Pope will arrive by helicopter and will proceed to Piazza Ruggia by Popemobile through eight of the town's main streets.

The Pope's Angelus will be preceded by Mass celebrated in Piazza Ruggia by Cardinal Bertone and Bishop Miglio.

Parking has been provided by the commune in two designated places on the town periphery. Shuttle buses will take pilgrims to the center of town.

Information for those interested about the papal visit to Romano Canavese are available on the diocesan site
www.ivrea.chiesacattolica.it.

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Posted on 7/18/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


A little town of 3,000
prepares to welcome the Pope:
'We won't hurt him by
hugging him too tight'

Translated from
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/APCOM.jpg[/IMG]
July 18, 2009


[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-ROMCAN-WELCOME.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-MAP-ROMCAN-LOCATOR.jpg[/IMG]


Romano Canavese, a small town with 3,000 inhabitants in the province of Torino (Turin), has suddenly become 'famous'. Tomorrow, for the first time a Pope will be visiting.

Pope Benedict XVI is coming, fractured wrist and all, to lead the Sunday Angelus in the birthplace of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his Secretary of State, to whom the town owes this visit.

Of course, everyone held his breath yesterday upon learning of the 'slight' accident to the Pope, but shortly after the Pope got back from the hospital in Aosta, the papal household quickly dispelled any fears that the visit would be cancelled.

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/0-ROMCAN-PIAZZARUGGIA-GV.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/090719-ROMCAN-ANGELUSMAPS.jpg[/IMG]

Everything is ready for the Pope's arrival tomorrow. Volunteers have set up the police barricades lining the route of the Pope's motorcade from the sports field where his helicopter will land. He will pass through the main streets of the town to Piazza Ruggia in front of the town's parish church dedicated to Saints Peter adn Solutor.

Giant streamers have been strung along the route, reading "Welcome, Holy Father - The entire diocese is celebrating", and near Cardinal Bertone's family home at No. 5, Piazza Sarti [which the Pope will be visiting after the Angelus], "Grazie, Don Tarcisio". In addition, the Vatican's yellow-and-white flags are flying from windows along the Pope's route.

The Pope's chopper will land around 11:30 on property that was once the site of a huge Olivetti plant. (Ivrea was the center of the Olivetti typewriter giant which was one of the enterprises made obsolete by computers.)

Unemployment continues to plague the region, and the Pope is expected to talk about work, families and the youth during his Angelus homily.

"Employment problems and the future of the young are felt strongly by the Holy Father," said Cardinal Bertone. "His visit to an area which is still marked by the Olivetti crisis and continuing unemployment will convey his sense of brotherhood with the residents".

Two thousand passes were given out for Piazza Ruggia, another 600 for Piazza Sarti, and a few hundred to be inside the church. Jumbo TV screens have been set up in Piazza Sarti, as well as in the parish churches of the two towns adjoining Romano Canavese.

Among those welcoming the Pope will be the president of the Piedmont region, Mercedes Bresso, the president of Torino province, Antonio Saitta, and the president of the Regional Council, Davide Gariglio.

The town mayor, Oscar Ferrero, who was elected only last month, says, "We are expecting some 10,000 persons. It's a feast for the area. It will be a joyful day."

The town will confer honorary citizenship on the Pope, which will be officially presented at a Vatican ceremony to be scheduled later.

And the Bishop of Ivrea, Mons. Arrigo Miglio, promises with a smile: "We won't hug the Pope too tightly. We don't want to cause him more pain!"


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Posted on 7/19/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


ANGELUS TODAY

[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/090719-ROMCAN-WELCOME.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/090719-ROMCAN-ANGELUSMAPS.jpg[/IMG]

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[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2009-2/090719-ANGELUS-2E.jpg[/IMG]

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words before the Angelus prayer today in Romano Canavese. For a change, as though to acknowledge his almost purely Italian audience in this little town of 3,000 people 40 miles north of Turin, he said no words in other languages:


Dear brothers and sisters:

I have come with great joy to your beautiful city, with its beautiful church, to the hometown of my principal collaborator, Cardinal Tarcisio, Bertone, Secretary of State, with whom I had already worked for years at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As you see, because of my misfortune, I am somewhat limited in my movement, but the presence of my heart is full, and I am among you with great joy!

I wish at this time to say 'Thank you' with all my heart to all: So many have shown during these days aheir closeness, their sympathy and their affection for me, and have prayed for me - thus reinforcing the network of prayer which unites us in all parts of the world.

Above all, I wish to thank the doctors and hospital staff in Aosta who treated me with such diligence, such competence and friendship, and as you seem with success - we hope!

I also wish to thank the authorities of the state, the Church, and all the regular folk who have written me or have shown their affection and closeness.

Now I wish to greet, first of all, your Bishop, Mons. Arrigo Meglio, and thank him for his kind words full of friendship - and also for telling me a bit about the historical and present situation of your town.

I wish to thank Mons. Luigi Bozzo for his presence. I greet the mayor who presented me with a beautiful gift, and the civilian and military authorities.

I greet the parish priest, the other priests and religious, the members of church associations and ecclesial movements, and all the citizens - with a special thought for the children, young people, families, the aged, the sick and the needy.

To each and everyon, my most sincere thanks for the welcome which you have prepared for me during this brief stay among you.

This morning, you celebrated the Eucharist with Cardinal Bertone, who must have illustrated to you the Word of God that the liturgy offers for our meditation on this 16th Sunday in ordinary time,

As the Lord invited his disciples to come aside with him away from the others in order to listen to him in intimacy, so I would like to speak to you, knowing that listening to the Gospel and accepting it has given life to your community whose name recalls the bimillenary links of the Canavese with Rome.

Your land was bathed early, as His Excellency recalled, with the blood of martyrs, among them St. Solutor - I must confess that until this time, I had not heard of him, but I am always thankful to learn of new intercessor saints - for whom, along with St. Peter the Apostle, your church is named.

An eloquent testimony to your long history of faith is this imposing parish church which dominates a large part of Canavese territory, whose people are well-known for their love of work and attachment to work.

At present, however, I know that even here, in the area of Ivrea, many families are experiencing economic difficulties due t4o the lack of work opportunities.

About this problem, as His Excellency has also pointed out - I have spoken many times, and I have dealt with it more profoundly in the recent encyclical Caritas in veritate. I hope it may be able to mobilize positive forces to renew the world!

Dear friends, do not be discouraged! Providence always helps those who do good and work for justice. It helps those who do not think only of themselves, but also of those who are worse off than they are,

You know it well, because your grandparents were forced to emigrate for lack of work, but then economic development brought well-being, and people came here from other parts of Italy and even from abroad. [During the postwar boom years for Olivetti Industries, based in Ivrea, but forced to retrench drastically, closing down its world-famous typewriter business with the advent of the PC.]

The fundamental values of family and respect for human life, sensitivity to social justice, ability to face effort and sacrifice, the strong links with tje Christian faith through parish life, and especially, through participation in Holy Mass, have been your true strength through the centuries.

These very same valies will allow the generations of today to build their own future with hope, giving life to a society that is truly solid and brotherly, in which all the various sectors, institutions, and the economy are permeated with the evangelical spirit.

In a special way, I address the youth, about whom we must think terms of their educational prospects. Here, as everywhere, you must ask what kind of culture you are getting, which examples and models are offered to you, and evaluate if these are such that can encourage you to follow the ways of the Gospel and of authentic freedom.

Youth is full of resources, but it must be helped to overcome the temptation of easy and illusory ways, in order to find the way to a true and full life.

Dear brothers and sisters, on this your land, rich with Christian traditions and human values, many male and female vocations have flowered, particularly for the Salesian family, as it did for Cardinal Bertone, who was born in your parish, baptized in this church, and grew up in a family where he assimilated genuine faith.

Your diocese owes much to the sons and daughter of Don Bosco, for their widespread and fruitful presence in the whole area since the years when the Holy Founder wast still alive. [Don Bosco lived and worked in nearby Turin.]

May this be further encouragement for your diocesan community to be even more involved in education and vocational training [the emphasis of Don Bosco's apostolate, mainly directed at young people].

For this, let us invoke the protection of Mary, the Virgin of the Assumption who is the patron of your diocese, Help of Christians, the mother loved and venerated in a special way in many shrines dedicated to her between the mountains of Gran Paradiso [adjoining Les Combes] and the Po River valley.

May her maternal presence show to all the way of hope, and may she lead you as the Star led the Holy Magi. May Our Lady of the Star watch over all of you from the hill that overlooks Ivrea, Monte Stella, which is dedicated to her and to the Three Kings.

Now, let us entrust ourselves with filial confidence to Our Lady, invoking her with the prayers of the Angelus.



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Last photo shows the Pope in an improvised Popemobile en route to the family home of Cardinal Bertone for lunch after today's Angelus.



Day 7 on vacation:
Pope blesses with his right hand,
cast and all - and shares
a relaxed lunch with
Cardinal Bertone's family

by Elisa Pinna
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ROMANO CANAVESE, Piedmont, Italy, July 19 (Translated from ANSA) - Papa Ratzinger used his right hand - the one in a cast for a fractured wrist - to impart blessings on his first public event after the incident.

He was in great form, raising the injured arm easily; he moved the fingers of his right hand in his trademark way, almost like playing a piano; and he had the Fisherman's Ring, symbol of his papacy, back on his right ring finger. (He had to transfer it to the left hand for the operation on his wrist.)

The crowd at Romano Canavese, this little town in the Piedmont countryside, where Cardinal tarcisio Bertone was born, applauded him with great enthusiasm.

"As you see, I am somewhat limited in my (arm) movement, but the presence of my heart is full," he had said before the Angelus prayers.

[The story then briefly goes over the highlights of the Pope's Angelus message - translated in full above.]

Next to the Pope, CArdinal Bertone was beaming. The Pope had not cancelled his Sunday commitment despite his domestic accident, and after acknowledgin the sea of faithful crowded in Piazza Ruggia in front of the parish church, the Pope joined Bertone and his family at lunch in the family home in nearby Piazza Sarti.

Speaking to newsmen after the Pope had flown back to Les Combes in the helicopter that had brought him to Romano Canavese two hours earllier, Bertone jested that "he could not possibly give a blessing with his left hand, otherwise he might have had liturgical and theological problems!"

[Canon 168 on episcopal ceremonial provides that blessing are given with the right hand, which belongs to the 'noble part' of the body. There are exceptions: in the Old Testament, Job blessed his sons with the left, and in recent times, John Paul II used his left hand for a few weeks when he dislocated his right shoulder after a stumble and fall in 1993.)

Bertone noted, as everyone did, that the Pope was "in top form, very sure of himself, joyful - in public and in private".

In his Angelus message, the Pope spoke of the employment crisis in the area, which had followed the retrenchment of Ivrea-based Olivetti in the mid-1990s, a crisis that continues.

They also spoke about it over lunch later, the cardinal said, adding that there were 'good prospects for a new start for Olivetti". He recalled that even Pius XII used the standard Olivetti-22 typewriter to type out his texts.

At the Bertone family home, the Pope sat down to lunch with some twenty people, including the adult Bertones with the cardinal's younger siblings Valeriano and Mariuccia, and the Pope's own staff (secretary, chief of security, physician) and the Bishop of Ivrea.

The menu was simple: Parma ham with melon as antipasto; a risotto with Genoese pesto; maccheroncini ina tomato-basaed sauce; veal medallions with spinach and potato pancakes; and orange sorbet. The Pope drank his usual orange juice; the rest drank local wines, including an Erbaluce brand produced by the cardinal's brother.

The Pope ate with his left hand. Bertone observed that Benedict XVI is now learning to do more things with his left hand and finds it a useful exercise.

Bertone revealed that the Pope had received the latest-generation Olivetti notebook computer, from Telecom Italia's administrator Franco Bernabe, and the president of Olivetti, Francisco Forlenza.

Someone had suggested that it could be installed with voice recognition software that takes dictation, thus helping the Pope to resume his work on JESUS OF NAZARETH, volume 2, as he had planned to do. [That's a brilliant idea I hadn't thought of, though we use it in the office to facilitate the doctors dictating their notes on the spot - it's simple and uncomplicated. Could be a blessing in disguise if our Papino becomes computer-friendly because of this!]

"Well, let's see if we can deal with the new technology," Bertone commented.

Before leaving the Bertone home, the Pope had pictures taken with the Bertone clan, numbering around 50, including in-laws, nephews and nieces, and grandchildren.

The family also showed the Pope a plaque which they will append to the house wall, reading "The members of the Bertone family and their relatives remember with profound gratitude the Holy Father Benedict XVI who came to visit us in our paternal home".


NB: I saw video in the Fox News report this morning that showed the Pope greeting the faithful inside the church of Saints Peter and Solutor after he prayed briefly at the altar. He was supposed to have driven in a motorcade through the main streets of the town to get to the Church, but I have not seen any photos or references to that event. In the video, he goes down the central aisle of the church greeting the faithful and then emerges into the stage set up on the church steps, from where he addressed the crowd and led the Angelus.

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AP's earlier report:

Pope seems at ease with cast
in blessing faithful

By COLLEEN BARRY
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ROMANO CANAVESE, Italy, July 19 (AP) – A beaming Pope Benedict XVI raised his cast-encased right arm to bless thousands of faithful Sunday during his first public appearance since surgery to set a wrist fractured in a fall.

The 82-year-old Pope showed great agility two days after the accident. He held out his left hand for the faithful to kiss and to greet well-wishers, but raised his immobilized right arm to bless the crowd in this small Piemontese town's main square. He made the sign of the cross with ease.

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"As you can see because of my accident, my mobility is a bit limited," Benedict told some 2,000 gathered in the main square at the start of his blessing. "But the presence of my heart is full."

He also thanked the doctors and medical staff at the Aosta hospital, where his wrist was reset on Friday, for their "diligence, competence and friendship," and also expressed thanks for all the prayers offered for his recovery.

Stepping out into the sunlight from beneath the canopy shading the outdoor altar, Benedict acknowledged the throngs in the square while another 5,000 or so followed on large screens set up in two other piazzas.

In his traditional Sunday blessing, the Pope addressed the issue of growing unemployment in the region, which is dependent on both the automotive and telecommunications industries that have suffered in the global economic downturn.

"Dear friends, don't be discouraged," the Pope urged. "Providence always helps those who work for the good and who occupy themselves with justice, helps those who don't think only of themselves, but of those who are worse off."

Andrea Accattino, vice mayor of the town of nearly 3,000, said the pope's visit was an important morale-booster for the community, which now has a jobless rate above 10 percent.

"Our hearts skipped a beat on Friday when they said he had fallen, but we didn't stop the planning machine," said Accattino. "The Pope was smiling even if he was suffering a little from his wrist. He had a smile for everyone."

The Pope underwent a 20-minute surgery on Friday after falling in a mountain chalet to reset the wrist he fractured in a fall, the first major medical issue of his 4-year papacy.

Doctors said the Pope will have to wear the cast for a month, and that he should fully recover.

The Pope's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Pontiff was eager to keep his commitments despite the accident, which doctors said was not related to any medical condition.

"The Holy Father's condition is good," Lombardi told AP Television News on Sunday. "He needs to learn to live with an immobile wrist, meaning that some activities, in particular writing which is very important for him, will be limited. He's a very patient person and surely he will experience this small test with serenity."

He said well-wishes for the Pope had poured in from around the globe in calls, letters and e-mails.

Benedict was returning to his mountain retreat in Les Combes, in the neighboring region of Val d'Aosta near the French border.

Benedict has spent two summers in a secluded chalet in the village of Les Combes since becoming Pope. During his vacation, the Pope said he expected to rest and work on the second volume of his book on Jesus of Nazareth — although the prospects for writing have been curtailed by his injury. The right-handed Pope prefers to write by hand.


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16/08/2009 20.24
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Still bringing this thread up to date.


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Posted on 7/21/09 in the BENEDICT thread:


ADDENDA TO REPORTAGE
ON THE ROMANO CANAVESE VISIT


The OR story usually has some details not previously noted or reported, as this one does.


A special welcome
for an exceptional guest

by Nicola Gori
Translated from
the 7/20-7/21 issue of

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"Do not be discouraged!"

The Pope's exhortation went to the heart of the thousands who gathered in the small Piazza Ruggia of Romano Canavese, an exhortation for families, single persons and above all, young people - who are suffering the effects of the financial-economic crisis in this small town of Turin province, which Benedict XVI visited Sunday in a gesture of affection for his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was born here.

It was a commitment the Pope did not cancel despite the domestic incident Friday that resulted in a fracture to his right wrist.

Benedict XVI arrived by helicopter in what was once an Olivetti industrial area in nearby Scarmagno. He was welcomed by Cardinal Bertone and Mons. Arrigo Miglio, Bishop of Ivrea.

Dozens of yellow and white balloons were released, streamers marked the route, and Vatican flags were waved by enthusiastic residents and visitors who lined the Pope's route towards the parish church of Saints Peter and Solutor.

Welcoming the Pope in front of the church were Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, the Apostolic Nuncio to Italy; parish priest Don Jacek Peleszyk; Mayor Oscarino Ferrero; and other civilian and military authorities.

Inside the church, he was greeted by children preparing for First Communion, altar servers, the sick and disabled, scouts, and volunteers for various church-associated movements.

Also present for the occasion were Cardinal Bertone's Salesian mentors, including Don Pietro Conca, 98, who had been director of the Salesian oratory in San Benigno Canavese, one of the first houses set up by St. John Bosco and where the future cardinal spent some years as a teacher; and Don Nicola Faletti, 93.

The Pope, accompanied by his private secretary Mons. Georg Gaenswein, first knelt in prayer before the main altar, and venerated a reliquary containing a cloth signed in blood by a local martyr, the Servant of God Gino Pistoni, shortly before he died.

A member of Catholic Action and a guerrilla during the Second World War, Gino went to the aid of a German soldier in the front on July 25, 1944 and was mortally struck by a mortar round.

Dipping his finger in his blood, he wrote on his knapsack: "I offer my life for Catholic Action and for Italy. Long live Christ the King!"

After greeting the crowd assembled inside the church, the Pope emerged onto the altar erected over the church steps, and with arms raised, he greeted the crowd.

He listened to the greeting read by Bishop Miglio who said:

"We are heirs to and therefore responsible for a long Christian tradition which has profoundly marked the spiritual, cultural and social life of the Canavese [term applied to the geographical and historical area north of Turin and south of Aosta whose first settlements go back to 123 B.C], leaving behind many values that are still well rooted in its social and personal life.

"These values include, in particular, love for family and for work, solidarity, missionary cooperation with poorer towns, a readiness to welcome new immigrants: we cannot in fact forget that a few decades ago, even this was a land of people who migrated elsewhere.

"But many families, particularly, the young, suffer because of precarious work opportunities and unemployment which cuts across age levels. Alongside material poverty, there is no lack, unfortunately of spiritual and moral poverty, often more serious than material need.

"Your visit, Holy Father, follows that of the Servant of God John Paul II who visited our diocese (Ivrea) [he was in the city of Ivrea, not in the town of Romano] in March of 1990, and your presence today is a living testimony of the continuing closeness of the Pope and the Church to the problems of labor, families, and all human suffering. Thank you, Holy Father, for Caritas in veritate."

Mayor Ferrero also expressed the joy of all the townspeople for the Pope's visit.

"Your gesture," he said, "brings us a message of faith, hope, and charity in truth, virtues which for us are enhanced by the friendship that has linked you for years to our most illustrious townmate, your Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone."

He, too, referred to the economic crisis: "The situation is grave, but we are sure your presence and your prayers will guide us and give us the strength and the courage to overcome this crisis."

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Before ending the official welcoming rites, the parish priest offered the Pope a chalice that was fashioned by an artisan from Castellamonte, along with some chasubles for the Pope to send to a mission.

The mayor presented the Pope with a painting by local artist Cristina Ariago. And Franco Bernabe, an official of Telecom Italia, accompanied by Francisco Forlenza, president of Olivetti, presented the Pope with the latest model of the Olivetti notebook computer.

[The story says nothing of the Pope's Angelus message because the entire text is the headline story on Page 1 of tomorrow's double issue.]

After the Angelus, the Pope gave his customary blessing with his right hand, his forearm encased in a cast.

He then proceeded to the family home of Cardinal Bertone, where he had luncheon with the cardinal's immediate clan. Over lunch, also joined by the Bishop of Ivrea, they discussed the work emergency, the future of the youth and the problems of the diocese of Ivrea.

Later, Valeriano, the cardinal's brother, said: "The Pope did refer to his accident, and said he hoped to recover full use of his right hand soon. But his attention was focused on the social problems of the Canavese - not just the unemployment, but also the lack of vocations in the parishes."

"It was a very moving occasion," he said. "And we appreciated it greatly that despite his accident, he came to Romano Canavese anyway."

The Bertone family presented the Pope with some old engravings of the Canavese. And Pietro Tarcisio, the cardinal's four-year-old grandnephew, unveiled a plaque placed on the wall of the Bertone house that commemorates the visit and expresses the family's gratitude to the Pope.

Benedict XVI's visit to Romano Canavese ended around 2:15 p.m., when he took the helicopter back to Les Combes.

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Before the Pope arrived, Cardinal Bertone presided at a Eucharistic concelebration at the piazza where the Pope was to lead the Angelus. [The newspaper also publishes the full text of Bertone's homily in this issue.]

There had been a prayer vigil in the church the night before, during which the cardinal told his townmates that "the Pope's visit should bring a message of hope and tell our youth that they should be attractive examples for their contemporaries in being joyful witnesses to the presence of God."

Referring to the recent G8 summit in L'Aquila, Bertone said: "We hope that the positive results and commitments that they publicly proclaimed will indeed be carried out. We as the Church will always represent a critical conscience to see if they respect these commitments."

He expressed the same hope about the commitments made by President Obama to the Pope about making policies that would lead to a reduction in abortions and that would respect conscientious objection by individuals and institutions who are against abortions.

"Those are two significant commitments that Obama said he believes he can do as President".

[Read the news from the USA, Your Eminence. Obama's ambitiously expensive and poorly thought out healthcare reform would require all health insurance companies, public or private, to cover the cost of abortions. Does that sound like any way to reduce abortions????

Speaking with a forked tongue is Obama's SOP - look at all the campaign promises that have already been broken in his first six months as President - and all the lies he told about how he would create 3.5 million jobs, etc., if Congress passed the stimulus bill they had not read!]


Regarding his own brief conversation with Obama, the cardinal said, "He showed a willingness to listen to the positions of the Church". [Well, what else could he do while he was at the Vatican? Tell his hosts, "No, I don't want to listen to what you have to say"? In the same way, the Vatican cannot possibly say, "We don't believe he will fulfill the commitments he made to the Pope." What it's saying at best is "Let's see if he keeps them."]


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