|“This is the creature that the Divine Providence, with your help, has created, and I give it to you, admire it and bless with me the Lord.”
(From the inaugural address given by Padre Pio on the steps of the Hospital on 5th May 1956.)
|“The children of this Work, who unite in prayer all over the world, according to the Seraphic Father St. Francis and according to the instruction and intention of the Pope, will find the communal home of the prayer groups here.”
(From the address of Padre Pio upon the First Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Hospital, 5th May 1957.)
“They, together with the «Casa Sollievo», are the frontline of this little city of charity, nurseries of the faith, the fertile soil of love, in which Christ Himself is present each and every time they unite in prayer …”
(From the address of Padre Pio upon the 10th Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Hospital, 5th May 1966.)
The organization of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups was born in the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza.
At the time when the work began for the construction of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, Padre Pio’s spiritual children had already started to spread his thoughts of the relief of suffering by word of mouth, letters and simple leaflets.
Inspired by their affection for Padre Pio, prayer groups were spontaneously forming throughout Italy thus demonstrating that the mission of the apostolate of the Work had an early and solid foundation.
The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza grasped these seeds of enthusiasm, this fervor, this natural gathering of hearts and souls around the Work of Padre Pio and began to guide, protect, teach and administer the groups according to the criteria that Padre Pio had established. These criteria were very simple and clear, and the groups who wanted to be recognized as “Prayer Groups” had to abide by them.
Even the name “Prayer Groups” was coined in the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. It appeared for the first time in the Casa Sollievo bulletin of June 1950, in an article written by Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti, one of the original collaborators with Padre Pio for the Work and a beloved spiritual son of the Saint. He would visit Padre Pio in his cell, at the end of each day, to receive his instructions on the activity of the Work and to be filled with strength and light for his soul.