WHAT A WONDERFUL MAN HE HAD BEEN…

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Last Sunday I had an unprecedented opportunity to visit a place called San Giovanni Rotondo- the place where Saint Pio (more commonly known as Padre Pio lived most of his life. It was a group of Sri Lankans in Napoli (Naples) who invited me to join them for the pilgrimage with one of my colleagues and good friends- Fr. Prasad.
The night before two of us traveled by train to Napoli and spent the night in one ‘house’ of a Sri Lankan. Well, can I call it a house in the proper sense of the word? Probably I cannot, because it is just a room converted into what they call their home. It is so small and constringed that I could hardly move around the room. This is the pathetic situation, I believe in most of the Sri Lankans living here. Can I kill my conscience and say “Well… that is how it is!” Instead, it continues to prick me, because my room is much more comfortable and well equipped than their ‘house’.
The early next morning we parted for San Giovanni Rotondo in Paglia, towards the east of the country. We passed through a picturesque mountainous area and it immediately captured my eye. Finally when we arrived there it was already 10.30 in the morning. It was an amazing place. Slowly I began to understand how important Padre Pio is to the Italians. Arguably is the most popular saint among the locals. His life as a Franciscan monk was inspiring. What is most commonly known about him is the famous stigmata. Yet for me, the simple and humble life he led is the most attractive characteristic of this great man of God. His incorruptible body is one big evidence for the magnanimity of his saintliness.
Padre Pio, pray for us sinners.

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