Little less than 400 km of road separate Rome from San Giovanni Rotondo, the small town in the Gargano remarry where the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, whom Pope Francis named Patron of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. According to the Pope’s wish, the saint’s relics have left the province of Foggia to be transported to Rome. Operations for the transfer of the body began yesterday morning in the sanctuary designed by Renzo Piano.
In a videoconference with the Vatican Film Library, Capuchin Francis Colacelli reported that the body was transported with a “short and simple rite” from the crypt where it was placed in 2010, in the upper church of the sanctuary. Father Pio is lying in a casket on whose base was inscribed a phrase that was very dear to the monk: “With you shall I be a Path, Truth, and Life in the world, and a holy priest and perfect victim for you.” To avoid any damage to be caused by vibration and stress during transportation to Rome, the relic was put on damping mats and the first case was put in another one, to subtract the body to any contact with the outside.
The body is being transported to Rome on an articulated vehicle, whose safety is ensured by the prefecture of Foggia. Father Pio’s body is expected to arrive late in the morning to the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, located next to the monumental Verano cemetery. On Thursday, February 4 it will be transporte to the Jubilee Basilica of San Salvatore in Lauro, near Castel Sant’Angelo. Finally, on Friday 5 at 4 p.m., a solemn procession will take the body of the saint to St. Peter’s Basilica, where it will be exposed to the veneration of the pilgrims who will cross the Holy Door, til the morning of 11 February, when it will be taken back to its sanctuary in Puglia.
Before returning to Gargano, it will stop in Pietrelcina, Francesco Forgione’s birthplace. After one hundred years, the village where he was born will be able to embrace its patron again. Then will follow another stop, this time in Foggia, in the church of St. Anne, a Capuchin monastery where Father Pio spent a short period as well. In the end, the relics will reach San Giovanni Rotondo.
The prefect of the Vatican Secretariat of Communications, Monsignor Dario Vigano, presented the new DVD devoted to the saint: “Father Pio. Maker of mercy.” Along with the film, was presented the book “Compassion in Father Pio” by Stefano Campanella (San Paolo Editions). The documentary film, produced by CTV will be distributed by the magazines Famiglia Cristiana and Credere. Yet, Father Pio will not be alone in Rome. According to the Pope, in fact, another Capuchin saint, Leopold Mandic, is expected in the capital for the Jubilee of mercy. Viagno stressed that the “two of them were great confessors”.