Addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in Rome to venerate the relics of St Padre Pio and St Leopold Mandic, Pope Francis said, “Praying is not like taking an aspirin, something one does just to feel a little better, neither is it a business negotiation with God, Prayer is a “work of spiritual mercy," a time to entrust everything to the heart of God.
Pope Francis paid homage to St. Padre Pio who often spent more than 12 hours a day hearing confessions and spoke on the importance of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In his long hours in the confessional and in his intense suffering, St. Pio was a “servant of mercy" who became a “channel of mercy," Pope Francis said.
Padre Pio, the Pope said, used to tell people prayer is “a key that opens God’s heart." God’s heart is not armored with all sorts of security measures, you can open it with a common key — prayer."
Archpriest of St Peter’s, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, welcomed the relics, blessed them with incense and escorted them into St Peter’s Basilica where they were to stay for veneration until February 11.
Speaking to members of St. Padre Pio prayer groups from around the world, the Pope recalling the works of Padre Pio asked the group to be steadfast in their aim live a life of devotion which will help them to rediscover the beauty of the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy.
With his long hours in the confessional, the Pope said, “Padre Pio was a servant of mercy and he was full-time, carrying out the ‘apostolate of listening’ even to the point of fainting."
“The great river of mercy" that Padre Pio unleashed, he continued, should continue through the prayers and, especially, the willingness to listen and to care for others shown by members of the prayer groups.
Pope Francis commended the group for their commitment and encouraged them to continue in their imitation of St. Padre Pio and always be sources of mercy and joyful apostles of prayer, because he said, “prayer works miracles."