Pope Benedict XVI will visit the tomb of St. Pio of Petrelcina next year.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, announced the planned visit during a Mass in San Giovanni Rotondo marking the 40th anniversary of Padre Pio’s death.
Padre Pio is entombed in San Giovanni Rotondo, the town in southern Italy where the Capuchin friar lived for more than 50 years until his death in 1968.
“Benedict XVI asked me to announce that everything is prepared,” Cardinal Bertone said during his homily at the Mass. “The Pope will come to San Giovanni Rotondo in 2009.”
Padre Pio was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
Franciscan Father Gianluigi Pasquale, author of “Secrets of a Soul,” Padre Pio’s letters to his spiritual directors, told Vatican Radio this week that the saint might be designated a doctor of the Church in the future in recognition of his distinctive spirituality.
Speaking at the Sept. 23 Mass, Cardinal Bertone said, “Saint Pio is like a channel of water that gushes richly, and at whose source all can drink the fresh water of truth and love that the Lord offers in abundance to all.”
— Tom McFeely