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Posted October 18, 2006

Prayer and Science Help in Pain Relief, Says Pope

Benedict XVI Helps Mark Anniversary of a Key Project of Padre Pio's

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Echoing the intuitions of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Benedict XVI says that prayer and science are two converging forces in relieving human suffering.

The Pope had the opportunity to refer to Padre Pio on Saturday, on the occasion "of the 50th anniversary of what constitutes a considerable and integral part of his work: the Home for the Relief of Suffering," one of the major hospitals of southern Italy.

The Pope did so during a festive meeting at midday in St. Peter's Square with participants in the pilgrimage of the Works of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, headed by the local bishop.

On hand were 30,000 people, including Friars Minor from the shrine and of the province; Padre Pio Prayer Groups; directors; health personnel and staff of the Home for the Relief of Suffering.

Padre Pio (1887-1968), of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, was ordained a priest in 1910. In September of that year he was sent to the Monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he remained until his death. He was canonized in 2002.

More than 7 million pilgrims visit San Giovanni Rotondo every year. Padre Pio Prayer Groups, which number 3,000 worldwide, bring together millions of people. The Home for the Relief of Suffering remains closely identified with the saint too.

Benedict XVI told those gathered Saturday: "All together you make up a great spiritual family, because you recognize yourselves as children of Padre Pio, a simple man, a 'poor friar,' as he used to say, to whom God entrusted the eternal message of his Love crucified for the whole of humanity."

Call it "home"

From Padre Pio's "ardent heart" of charity arose the Home for the Relief of Suffering, whose "name already manifests the inspiring idea from which it arose and the program it seeks to carry out," the Pope added.

"Padre Pio wished to call it 'home' so that the sick person would feel at ease in it, received in a family atmosphere, and in this home find relief from his suffering, . relief thanks to two converging forces: prayer and science," the Holy Father said.

In fact, "faith in God and scientific research cooperate to the same end, which can best be expressed with the words of Jesus himself: 'that they may have life, and have it abundantly,'" said Benedict XVI, referring to John 10:10.

"God is life, and he wills that man be cured of all sickness of body and spirit," the Pope observed. That is why "Jesus attended tirelessly the sick, pre-proclaiming with his cure the Kingdom of God already at hand."

Benedict XVI then described prayer as the "transversal" element of the whole of Padre Pio's work: It is "spiritual strength that moves everything and orients all according to the order of charity, which, ultimately, is God himself," as "God is love."

He added: "The feast of the Home for the Relief of Suffering is at the same time the feast of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups, that is, of that part of his work that 'calls' constantly to God's heart, as an army of intercessors and repairers, to obtain the graces necessary for the Church and the world."