It has been written, and rightly so, that “if there is an aspect of the mystery of Mary especially fitting to the life and work of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, it is certainly the coredemptive aspect of the person and mission of the Immaculate in God’s salvific plan of love” (1).
The mystery of Mary Coredemptrix is present in the life and writings of St. Pio of Pietrelcina at the highest levels of mystical experience which he lived out in body and soul, and of the theologia cordis transmitted by him to his spiritual children in the language of that wisdom transcending by far a language limited to the solely notional and conceptual (2).
St. Pio of Pietrelcina in the first place lived the mystery of Marian Coredemption in his exceptional mystical experience of the Passion of Christ Crucified, of which he bore the living and bleeding stigmata in his body for fifty entire years, from 1918 to 1968. He became an “imprinted reproduction of the wounds of the Lord,” according to the happy expression of Pope Paul VI (3). In this exceptional mystical experience he co-immolated himself with Christ, assimilating himself in a most extensive and profound manner to the Mother Coredemptrix who immolates herself with the Son on the Cross in order to bring to pass the universal Redemption (4). It has been written that, “Padre Pio penetrated the sorrows of Mary and participated in them, mirrored them, relived them; as his soul had been a partaker in the sorrows of the Passion, so too he had the gift of participating in the sorrows of Mary” (5).
Into this area of mystical experience, however, the inexperienced are not allowed to enter nor are they in a position to speak of it. St. Bonaventure, the “Seraphic Doctor,” teaches expressly that, with regard to the mystical, “those who are not experts and who do not wish to become experienced, must absolutely keep silent” (6).
What is more within the range of our intelligence, then, is the coredemptive aspect of St. Pio of Pietrelcina’s active ministry. He exercised the ministry of the confessional for more than fifty years, administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation to such a vast family of penitents that Pope Paul VI called it, in yet another happy expression, a “worldwide clientele” (7). But to administer the Sacrament of forgiveness and of reconciliation between mankind and God means to operate on the same wavelength, so to speak, as Marian Coredemption. In fact, Mary Most Holy, being united with the Redeemer—”under Him and with Him,” as Vatican II teaches (LG 56)—reconciled humanity with God through the sacrificial offering consummated on Calvary; and after Calvary she continues unceasingly to reconcile man to God with her Mediation and Distribution of all the graces of Redemption. Consequently, she is proclaimed the Mother of universal reconciliation.
The spiritual director of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Fr. Benedict of San Marco, once told St. Pio in a letter of spiritual direction that his particular vocation was a “vocation to coredeem” by means of the daily trials, battles, sufferings, and toils coming from the exercise of his ministry. And in reference particularly to his work as a confessor, it has been accurately observed that “in the ministry of reconciliation, Padre Pio prolonged or, in a certain sense, actualized the fruitfulness of grace of Marian Coredemption which ‘restores the supernatural life in souls’ (LG 61). In fact, the divine grace acquired by the Redeemer and the Coredemptrix in the ‘effecting’ of the Redemption is here distributed and applied to every soul in need by means of the sacramental absolution given by Padre Pio to his penitents” (8).
To understand St. Pio’s “vocation to coredeem” better, one must also consult his writings, of primary value where he speaks of the Coredemptrix in the salvific mystery. And one recognizes immediately that his discourse is not theoretical or notional, but reflects instead the most profound and moving characteristics of the theologia cordis, of theology lived at the level of ascetical and mystical experience , one which gives a knowledge of the mystery characteristically sapiential and experiential, as St. Bonaventure explains (9).
The pages in which St. Pio speaks of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sorrows are exceedingly numerous (10). In these pages the figure of Our Lady of Sorrows is present in her immense coredemptive suffering, and she is seen walking along the way to Calvary “immediately behind Jesus… burdened with her own cross” (11). A cross for Jesus, a cross for Mary. It is of value