Program for Pope's June 21 trip
to Padre Pio's tomb
the official Padre Pio portal
May 30, 2009
The program for Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo on June 21 has been finalized after a site visit on May 23 by a delegation from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household headed by Archbishop James Harvey, prefect, and by a Vatican security team headed by Inspector-General Domenico Viani.
The organizing committee for the visit was formally named, headed by Mons. Domenico Umberto D’Ambrosio, Archbishop-nominee for Lecce and current apostolic administrator of the diocese of Manfredonia–Vieste- San Giovanni Rotondo.
The Holy Father will leave the Vatican by helicopter at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 21, and arrive at the Antonio Massa sport field at 9:15. He will be welcomed by Archbishop D'Ambrosio, a representative of the Italian government; Antonio Zanardo Landi, Italian Ambassador to teh Holy See; Mons Giuseppe Bertello, Apostolic Nuncio in Italy; Nichi Vendola, president of teh Puglia region; Antonio Nunziante, prefect of Foggia province; Antonio Pepe, President of the province; and Mayor Giuliani of San Giovanni Rotondo.
The Pope will travel by Popemobile to the Shrine of Padre Pio, passing through the main streets of the city. He will be formally welcomed in front of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (where Padre Pio was buried and has been on public exposition since April last year), by Mayor Giuliani, and then inside, by Fr. Mauro Jöhri, minister-general of the Capuchins who are in charge of the shrine, and other Capuchin monks.
After a brief adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he will visit Cell No. 1 of the adjoining convent, the room where Padre Pio died in 1948, and will then descend to the crypt to pray before the remains of the saint. he will light two lamps at the foot of the saint's urn, to symbolize the apostolic visits made by John Paul II and by himself.
The Pope will then proceed to the sacristy to vest for Holy Mass, and will take the Popemobile to proceed to the plaza in front of the San Pio de Pietrelcina Church. Mass will begin at 10:15 and will be followed by the recitation of the Angelus.
In the afternoon, at 2:45, the Holy Father will visit the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House of Relief from Suffering), the ultra-modern hospital that Padre Pio built up from humble beginnings. Here, he will meet the officials, personnel and ambulant patients of the hospital, whom he will address.
At 17:30, he will take the Popemobile back to the Church of St. Pio to meet with the priests, religious and youth of the diocese for the last event of the day.
Taking the same route through the city, he will return by Popemobile to the Antonio Massa sport field to take the helicopter back to Rome. Take-off is expected at 18:15, arriving at the Vatican by 17:30.