In his speech, Francis spoke about the spiritual torments Padre Pio underwent during his time in Pietrelcina. This was the town where the saint was born, but he also spent time there during a period of bad health.
“This was not an easy time for him,” the Pope said. “He was strongly tormented in his heart and he feared falling into sin, feeling assaulted by the devil.”
Departing from his prepared speech, Pope Francis asked those present if they believe that the devil exists, adding that, if they are not so convinced, he will ask the bishop to do some catechesis on the subject.
“Does the demon exist, or does he not exist?” he asked, the crowd responding, “yes!” He continued, saying that the devil “torments us, he deceives us,” and that Padre Pio “was afraid that the devil would attack him, push him to sin.”
Francis noted that in the face of these fears, however, what Padre Pio did was pray: “In those terrible moments Padre Pio drew vital life from the continuous prayer and trust he placed in the Lord.”
When these temptations from the devil would come, Padre Pio said he would confidently abandon himself into the arms of Jesus and they would disappear, the Pope said.
“Here is all theology!” he continued. “You have a problem, you are sad, you are sick: abandon yourself in the arms of Jesus.”
He pointed out how prayer was vital to Padre Pio for discernment of God’s will, and how he especially loved the Mass and the sacraments.
“Padre Pio immersed himself in prayer to adhere ever better to the divine designs. Through the celebration of Holy Mass, which was the heart of every day and the fullness of his spirituality, he reached a high level of union with the Lord,” he said.