Just four days before his death, Padre Pio expressed his devotion to Mary in one of his final gestures of love.
A man brought Padre Pio a beautiful bouquet of red roses for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his stigmata. Padre Pio took one of the roses out of the bouquet and asked one of his spiritual sons who was going to Pompeii if he would take it to the shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The man promised that he would take it there the very next day.
When the man arrived in Pompeii, he told a nun who served at the shrine that the rose had been sent by Padre Pio, who asked that it be placed before the image of Our Lady of the Rosary. Very pleased to receive the rose,the nun put it in a vase with other roses and placed it before the image of the Virgin Mary. On September 23, the day that Padre Pio passed away, the nun noticed that all the other roses in the vase had withered but the one that Padre Pio had sent was still fresh and beautiful. The news of Padre Pio’s unfading rose reached the local bishop who decided to put it on display in a special glass container. Padre Alberto D’Apolito heard about the rose and wanted to see it. He took a number of Third Order Franciscans from San Giovanni Rotondo on pilgrimage to the shrine in Pompeii. They saw the rose that Padre Pio had sent to Our Lady of Pompeii and although the stem was slightly yellow in color, the rose was still fresh and intact. Their visit to see the rose occurred one year after Padre Pio’s death.
Cleonice Morcaldi, one of Padre Pio’s spiritual daughters, spoke to Padre Pio just a few days before his death. “Father, please give me at least one word,” Cleonice said to him. He answered, “Love the Madonna and make her loved. Always recite her Rosary. That is the armor against the evils of the world today.” “Is the Madonna close to you?” Cleonice asked. “A Mother,” Padre Pio replied. “All of Paradise is near her.” Padre Pio’s love for Our Lady and for her Rosary supported and sustained him throughout his earthly pilgrimage. Father Domenico Mondrone spoke of Padre Pio’s love for Mary and said: The Rosary was the most beautiful and longest sermon in honor of her, because it lasted the whole of his life. He spoke with the Rosary which he was seen to clutch always in his fingers, the Rosary he clutched in those last instants, almost as though it were the supreme link between the earth he was about to leave and the heavens which opened before him. Padre Pio passed into eternal life very peacefully, very well prepared. He died with his Rosary in his hand. His last words were -Jesus, Mary.
May Jesus always be the pilot of the little boat of your spirit. May Mary be the star which lights the path for you and shows you the surest way to reach the Heavenly Father. –St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Padre Pio left this life in September of 1968; but the mysterious fruitfulness of his long life as a priest and religious, son of St. Francis of Assisi, still continues to act, we may say, with visible crescendo, and in particular in two works that are typically his because they were born of his great heart, open to the love of God and to the brethren -the Prayer Groups and the Home for the Relief of Suffering. –St.Pope John Paul II
~Excerpt from “Pray Hope and Don’t Worry” by Diane Allen~