Pope Francis plans to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of St Pio of Pietrelcina and the 100th anniversary of Padre Pio receiving the stigmata by visiting the famed Italian saint’s hometown and the pediatric oncology ward of the hospital he founded.
Pope Francis will travel to Pietrelcina and San Giovanni Rotondo on 17th March, the Vatican announced.
He will arrive in Padre Pio’s hometown early in the morning, pray in the little Chapel of the Stigmata in Piana Romana, a neighbourhood just outside the town, and address a gathering of the townspeople before visiting the Capuchin community.
Pope Francis is scheduled to take a short helicopter ride to San Giovanni Rotondo, where a young Padre Pio moved in 1916. It was there that he founded the hospital, Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering).
After visiting the children receiving treatment for cancer, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass outside the Church of St Pio of Pietrelcina.
Picture: Pope Francis prays in front of the coffins containing the exhumed bodies of Ss Padre Pio and Leopold Mandic displayed in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 6th February. The bodies were brought to Rome at the request of Pope Francis for the Year of Mercy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters).