This Sunday we dedicated a little to meditation and we visited the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, located on the summit of a small mountain range in the Gargano. Near the Sanctuary, there is the renowned Casa del Sollievo Hospital. Excellence of the South, it is a reference point for many patients, being in possession of the latest machinery and the best doctors in the area.
Arriving near the Sanctuary and the Hospital, it is necessary to park the car in one of the several guarded parking lots. Once on the site, we walked along Viale Padre Pio, the main road that led us first of all to the entrance of the hospital and then to the entrance of the Conventual Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Here there is a large square where tourists stop to take some pictures or find their way. Inside, in addition to the large Church in which it was not possible to take pictures and moreover mass was also celebrated, the tomb of Padre Pio, currently empty because the body was moved to the new Sanctuary for reasons of space and security.
On the side of the church it is possible to admire the Via Crucis Monumentale, a long stairway that rises along the side of the Monte Castellano, very steep and tiring and is crossed by all the pilgrims and faithful, as a sign of redemption. It is also located in a beautiful pine forest and it is possible to stop at times to rest and also admire the beauty of nature. There is an alternative route for the disabled.
Going along a side street to the Conventual Church of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you reach a huge square and in the background stands the Sanctuary of San Pio da Pietrelcina. Very modern structure, built by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, and inaugurated in 2004, the Sanctuary is an architectural jewel not only outside but also inside. It is necessary to get in line to reach the entrance that is staggered to prevent people from getting crowded. After about half an hour, we have access to the path that leads us down, surrounded by paintings that tell the story and life of Padre Pio. Finally we arrive at the church where the body is located, well protected by a thick glass window, and always in a row we pass by, being able to caress the window itself. The row is quite smooth and a guard closely checks that everything is going smoothly.
The path continues towards the exit but not without having first crossed the room where you can buy necklaces, bracelets, rings, postcards, statues of Padre Pio. You then enter a large room with a central sculpture while at the top there is a space dedicated to the blessings where the priests alternate in the continuous invocation. From here, take a short corridor towards the exit consisting of a long, tree-line
d street that descends towards the main road.
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