Padre Pio of Pietralcina and the Children’s Prayer Nests
Padre Pio’s desire to form children’s prayer nests arose from the Heart of Jesus itself: «Let the children come to me, do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of God» (Lk 18,16).
In 1975 during a mission in the schools of Ischia, a teacher told us about her first encounter as a child with Padre Pio, at San Giovanni Rotondo, where she went with her mother. Caressing her head, Padre Pio said smiling: «Children… children will save the world!», an expression which he repeated other times on similar occasions.
It’s the same concept expressed by Our Lady of Fatima, where she asked three children to offer themselves to God and to pray the rosary to obtain peace in the world. Padre Pio’s spirituality is totally in line with Fatima’s: offering of one’s life, Eucharist and recitation of the rosary. Therefore it was natural that, along with the adult Prayer Groups, he ask his first collaborators to form Children’s Prayer Nests.
In the first issues of “La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” there are many remnants of these efforts accomplished in various parts of Italy. The initiative, which was brought about by Dr. Guglielmo Sanguinetti, faded away with his death (1954).
In the 1960s the Servant of God Padre Pio Dellepiane of the Minim friars, St. Pio of Pietralcina’s soul mate, with the support of the marchioness Degli Oddi, started to bring groups of children from San Giovanni Rotondo into the Capuchin church, but he couldn’t do much more because of his precarious health and his numerous commitments.
In 1972 he asked Father Andrea D’Ascanio to accomplish the following project: «It’s urgent… he told him with a suffering expression, it’s already too late…». He then accepted his spiritual director’s invitation and that’s how the first Children’s Prayer Nests of the Armata Bianca were formed, and are now scattered throughout the world.