But St. Pio had the solution for this torment, Francis says.
Noting how Francesco Forgione was born in Pietrelcina, and returned there for health reasons, the pope said that this period “was not, for him, an easy time.”
The future saint was “greatly tormented inwardly and feared to fall prey to sin, feeling he was under assault by the devil,” Francis said. “And this did not give him peace, because he was restless.”
The Bishop of Rome then asked the crowd, “But do you believe that the devil exists? … You are not very convinced? … I will tell the bishop to do some catechesis … Does the devil exist or not?”
The crowd answered yes, and the pope went on to explain that the devil “goes everywhere, he gets inside us, he moves us, he torments us, he deceives us.”
Father Pio “was afraid that the devil would assail him, would drive him to sin,” Francis continued. And the friar spoke to a few people in an attempt to “clarify what was happening in his soul.”
But Padre Pio was able to draw strength during this trying time, Pope Francis recalled, saying that it was from the “continuous prayer and the trust he was able to place in the Lord.”
“‘All the ugly ghosts,’ so he said, ‘that the devil is introducing into my mind disappear when I trustfully abandon myself to the arms of Jesus.'”
Pope Francis remarked that in this statement there is “all theology!”
“You have a problem, you are sad, you are sick — abandon yourself to the arms of Jesus,” he said. “And this is what [Pio] did. He loved Jesus and he trusted in Him.”
Padre Pio would write about how he would thirst more and more for God after receiving Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the morning.
“Father Pio immersed himself in prayer to adhere ever better to the divine plans,” Francis said. “Through the celebration of Holy Mass, which constituted the heart of his day and the fullness of his spirituality, he reached a high level of union with the Lord. During this period, he received special mystical gifts from above, which preceded the manifestation in his flesh of the signs of the Passion of Christ.”