By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY — St. Pio of Pietrelcina did not boast of his fame or holiness but instead showed that God “chooses the weak to confuse the strong,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston.
“Today, we stand before this great saint and we thank him for showing the world that God is real and that the only true success in life is holiness,” Cardinal O’Malley said Sept. 23 during a Mass at the Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
The Mass on the saint’s feast day also was part of the shrine’s celebrations of the 20th anniversary of his canonization.
In a tweet published Sept. 23 on his official Twitter account, Pope Francis said St. Pio’s life was an example that “charity inspired by faith has the power to disarm the forces of evil.”
“Saint #PadrePio of Pietrelcina fought evil throughout his life: with humility, with obedience, and with the Cross, offering up suffering for love,” the tweet said.
While at the shrine in southern Italy, Cardinal O’Malley also blessed three sculptures of Padre Pio designed and sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz. The sculptures were donated to the Padre Pio Foundation of America and to the Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.
In his homily, the cardinal reflected on the humble example of the “saints next door” who in small ways give witness to God’s love in their ordinary lives.
At times, however, “God takes ‘the saint next door’ and shines a spotlight on that individual so that his life and testimony become a window, a portal, through which people can have a glimpse of God’s presence, to discover God hidden in plain sight,” he said.
“Padre Pio was a man who did not boast of his wisdom, nor of his strength, nor of his riches. Like St. Paul, his boast was in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and like the Poor One (St. Francis), Padre Pio became a living crucifix,” said the cardinal, a Capuchin friar like Padre Pio.
Recalling the suffering endured by the saintly friar due to “the burden of the stigmata,” Cardinal O’Malley said Padre Pio’s example of bearing pain with “love and patience” can help Christians see that holiness “brings light and peace to a world of darkness and chaos.”
“In a world where pain is seen as the greatest evil, Padre Pio shows us the power of the cross. He shows us that the greatest evil is not pain, but sin and selfishness,” the cardinal said.