Friendship between two saints: St. John Paul II and Padre Pio

Padre Pio, generous dispenser of divine mercy

Italian Capuchin, (1887-1968), canonized in 2002 in a massive ceremony by St. John Paul II under the name of St. Pio of PietrelcinaThis holy priest received an extraordinary spiritual gift to serve the people of God. This gift marked his life, filling it with suffering, not only the physical pain caused by his stigmata, but also the moral and spiritual suffering caused by those who considered him crazy or a swindler.

The reality is that this saint helped thousands of people to return to the faith, to convert and come closer to God. Padre Pio performed amazing healings. And predictions difficult to contrast, such as the one made to Karol Wojtyla himself, predicting his future papacy. The Frenchman Emanuele Brunatto credited that same gift of prophecy that allowed him to find out from time to time what was going to happen. "It is Jesus," explained Padre Pio, "who sometimes lets me read his personal notebook...".

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Privilege of a penitent

At the Mass of canonization on June 16, 2002 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, St. John Paul II affirmed that "Padre Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to everyone through his hospitality, spiritual direction and especially the administration of the sacrament of penance. I too, in my youth, had the privilege of benefiting from his availability to penitents. The ministry of the confessional, which is one of the distinctive features of his apostolate, attracted countless crowds of the faithful to the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo".

How did St. John Paul II and Padre Pio meet?

The relationship between Padre Pio and St. John Paul II is not only due to the fact that the beatification and canonization ceremonies of the Capuchin friar were held during the Polish pope's pontificate, but also because, in 1948, Karol Wojtyla met Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo.

The first meeting of two saints

It was in April 1948 that Karol Wojtyla, a newly ordained priest, decided to meet Padre Pio. "I went to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Padre Pio, to participate in his Mass and, if possible, to go to confession with him." This first meeting was very important for the future pope. This was reflected years later in a letter he sent in his own handwriting, written in Polish, to the Father Guardian of the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo: "I spoke with him in person and exchanged a few words, it was my first meeting with him and I consider it the most important". While Padre Pio was celebrating the Eucharist, the young Wojtyla took special note of the friar's hands, where the stigmata could be seen covered by a black scab "On the altar of San Giovanni Rotondo the sacrifice of Christ himself was being fulfilled, and during confession, Padre Pio offered a clear and simple discernment, addressing the penitent with great love".

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The painful wounds of Padre Pio

In addition, the young priest was interested in Padre Pio's wounds: "The only question I asked him was which wound caused him the most pain. I was convinced it was the one on my heart, but Padre Pio surprised me when he told me: 'No, the one that hurts me the most is the one on my back, the one on my right side. This sixth wound in the shoulder, like the one Jesus suffered while carrying the cross or the patibulum on the road to Calvary. It was the sore "that hurt the most", because it had festered and had never "been treated by the doctors".

The letters linking St. John Paul II and Padre Pio date back to the period of the Council.

The letter dated November 17, 1962 read: "Venerable Father, I ask you to pray for a forty year old mother of four daughters who lives in Krakow, Poland. During the last war she was in the concentration camps in Germany for five years and is now in grave danger of health, even life, because of cancer. Pray that God, with the intervention of the Blessed Virgin, will show mercy to her and her family. In Christo obligatissimus, Carolus Wojtyla".

At that time, Monsignor Wojtyla was in Rome and received the news of Wanda Poltawska's serious illness. Convinced that Padre Pio's prayer had a special power before God, he decided to write to him to ask for help and prayers for the woman, mother of four daughters. This letter came to Padre Pio through Angelo Battisti, an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State and administrator of the Casa Alivio del Suffering. He himself recounts that after reading the contents to him, Padre Pio uttered the famous phrase: "I can't say no to this one!", and added: "Angelo, keep this letter because one day it will be important".

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Thanks for the healing

A few days later, the woman underwent a new diagnostic examination which showed that the cancerous tumor had completely disappeared. Eleven days later, John Paul II again wrote a letter, this time to thank her. The letter read: "Venerable Father, the woman who lives in Krakow, Poland, mother of 4 girls, on November 21 before the surgical operation was suddenly cured. We give thanks to God and also to you, Venerable Father. I express my sincere thanks on behalf of the lady, her husband and the whole family. In Christ, Karol Wojtyla, Capitular Bishop of Krakow". On that occasion the friar said: "Praise be to the Lord!

"Look at the fame that Padre Pio has achieved, the followers he has gathered around him from all over the world. But why? Because he was a philosopher? Because he was a wise man? Because he had the means? Nothing of the sort: because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning to night and was, it is difficult to say, a representative sealed with the wounds of Our Lord. A man of prayer and suffering".

Pope St. Paul VI, February 1971.
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Karol Wojtyla praying at the tomb of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo.

The visits of St. John Paul II to the tomb of Padre Pio

Wojtyla returned to San Giovanni Rotondo on two more occasions. The first, when he was Cardinal of Krakow, in 1974 and the second, when he was already proclaimed Pope, in 1987. On these two trips he visited the mortal remains of Padre Pio and prayed kneeling at the tomb of the Capuchin friar. In the autumn of 1974, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was back in Rome and, "as the date of the anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood (November 1, 1946) approached, he decided to commemorate the anniversary in San Giovanni Rotondo and to celebrate the Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio. Due to a series of vicissitudes (November 1 was especially rainy) the group composed of Wojtyla, Deskur and six other Polish priests was delayed considerably, arriving in the evening at around 9 p.m. Unfortunately Karol Wojtyla could not fulfill his wish to celebrate Mass at Padre Pio's tomb on the day of his ordination to the priesthood. So he did it the next day. Stefano Campanella, director of Padre Pio TV.

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Love for penitents

Padre Pio "had a simple and clear discernment and treated the penitent with great love," John Paul II wrote that day in the visitors' book of the convent in San Giovanni Rotondo.

In May 1987, St. John Paul II, now Pope, visited the tomb of Padre Pio on the occasion of the first centenary of his birth. Before more than 50,000 people, His Holiness proclaimed: "Great is my joy at this meeting, and for several reasons. As you know, these places are linked to personal memories, that is, to my visits to Padre Pio during his earthly life, or spiritually after his death, at his tomb".

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St. Pio of Pietrelcina

On May 2, 1999, John Paul II beatified the stigmatized friar, and on June 16, 2002, he proclaimed him a saint. On June 16, 2002, His Holiness John Paul II canonized him as St. Pio of Pietrelcina. In the homily of his sanctification, John Paul recited the prayer composed by him for Padre Pio: 

"Humble and beloved Padre Pio: Teach us too, we ask you, humility of heart, to be considered among the little ones of the Gospel, to whom the Father has promised to reveal the mysteries of His Kingdom. Help us to pray without ever tiring, with the certainty that God knows what we need before we ask Him. Reach out to us with a look of faith able to readily recognize in the poor and suffering the very face of Jesus. Sustain us in the hour of struggle and trial, and if we fall, make us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness. Transmit to us your tender devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother. Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage to the happy homeland, where we also hope to get to to contemplate eternally the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


- La Brújula Cotidiana interviews the director of Padre Pio TV, Stefano Campanella.
- Interview with Polish Archbishop Andrew Maria Deskur, 2004.
- Homily of John Paul II, Mass of Sanctification, 2002.

What is a pilgrimage and what places to visit

Origin of the pilgrimages?

Pilgrimages date back to the first centuries of Christianity. One of the earliest documented records of Christian pilgrimages dates back to the 4th century, when sacred sites were identified in Holy Land associated with the life of Jesus Christ. This led an increasing number of pilgrims to travel to places such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.

However, one of the most significant events in the history of pilgrimages was the discovery of the relics of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome in the 1st century. Since then the Eternal City has become a favorite destination for pilgrims of all ages and nations.

When did Christian pilgrimages begin?

Over the centuries, important pilgrimage routes began to develop in Europe, such as the Camino de Santiago in Spain. These roads connected sacred places with each other and were traveled by pilgrims from all over the world.

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Pope Francis encouraged people to visit the Marian shrines of Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima: "oases of consolation and mercy". General Audience on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 in the Paul VI Hall.

8 Catholic pilgrimage sites

We review below the main pilgrimage sites of the Catholic Church. Holy places since ancient times and some sanctuaries and basilicas dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which attract a multitude of pilgrims.

Every year the CARF Foundation organizes pilgrimages, in collaboration with travel agencies and specialists in religious tourism, with an important participation of benefactors and friends, who share these unique and unforgettable experiences. A different way to get closer to the Lord.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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At Holy Land Jesus was born, lived and died. Its roads are the pages of the "fifth gospel". It was also the scene of the events of the Old and New Testament. It was a land of battles, such as the Crusades; the object of political and religious disputes.

Among the places you can visit is Jerusalem in Israel, the city where Christ did part of his public life and where he entered in triumph on Palm Sunday. You can also visit the Holy Sepulcher, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross, the Church of the Visitation, the Basilica of the Nativity, and much more.

Pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican

Rome, the Eternal City, is home to the Vatican City, the heart of the Catholic Church. It features St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes. On the outskirts of Rome are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, also known as the Crypt of the Popes.

Pilgrimage to Rome offers the opportunity to experience the Catholic Church as a mother. It is an experience that strengthens faith and helps to live in communion with the tradition and teachings of the Catholic Church.

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

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In Spain we have one of the most important Catholic pilgrimages in the world, Santiago de Compostela. In the 12th century, thanks to the impulse of Archbishop Diego Gelmirez (1100-1140), the Cathedral of Santiago was consolidated as a destination for millions of Catholic pilgrims. Last Xacobeo 2021-2022 year, 38,134 pilgrims from all over the world walked the route.

There are different routes to make this pilgrimage. The most used of all is the French Way. It is the route par excellence, traditionally used by pilgrims from all over Europe and has the most complete network of services, accommodation and signposting of all.

Marian pilgrimage to the shrine of Medjugorje

Located in Bosnia Herzegovina, the town of Medjugorje is famous for the numerous apparitions of the Virgin Mary from 1981 to the present day. Although the Church has not yet officially recognized these apparitions, Pope Francis authorized in 2019 the organization of official pilgrimages of dioceses and parishes, giving it an official character.  

The Sanctuary surrounded by mountains where the image of the Virgin Mary is located. Our Lady of Medjugorjeis an essential stop for pilgrims in search of solace, healing and a profound faith experience.

Marian pilgrimage to the basilica of the Virgen del Pilar

The Cathedral-Basilica of the Virgin of Pilar is the first Marian temple of Christianity. Tradition has it that in the year 40 of the first century, the Virgin appeared to the apostle Santiago, who was preaching in what is now Zaragoza.

The basilica, with its impressive architecture and atmosphere of recollection, is an ideal space for prayer and meditation. Pilgrims come to this sacred place to pay homage to the Virgin of Pilar, patron saint of Latin America. On October 12, the celebration of the festivity, offerings of flowers and fruits are made. Also on that day takes place the crystal rosary, a parade of 29 crystal floats that are internally illuminated and represent the mysteries of the rosary.

Marian pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Torreciudad

Located in the province of Huesca, Spain, this sanctuary is a place of great Marian devotion and is known in the region for being a natural enclave of great beauty. 

Pilgrims come to pay homage to Our Lady of Torreciudad and experience a conversion of heart, especially through the sacrament of confession. 

This shrine, erected thanks to the impulse of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, attracts faithful from all over the world who seek to strengthen their relationship with the Virgin Mary and grow in their faith. The feast of Our Lady of Torreciudad is celebrated on the Sunday following August 15. Every year, it celebrates the multitudinous Marian Family Day which takes place on a Saturday in September.

Marian pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal)

This is one of the most important Marian shrines. Where the Virgin Mary appeared Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 to three little shepherds (Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta).

The sanctuary of Fatima is composed of several chapels and basilicas. The main one is the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary where the tombs of the three seers are located. The exterior is flanked by a colonnade of about 200 columns. Inside there are 14 altars that also represent the Stations of the Cross.

The climate of prayer at Fatima has left an indelible mark on the faith of generations of Catholics, making this shrine a point of encounter with the divine and a symbol of the intercession of the Virgin Mary in the history of mankind.

Marian pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Lourdes (France)

It is the place of pilgrimage for the sick par excellence. From the grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette, a spring of pure water gushed forth from which water has never ceased to flow. A miraculous water responsible for countless cures. Visitors also leave thousands and thousands of candles in thanksgiving or for a petition.

On the rock where the grotto is located, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was erected, inaugurated in 1871. Lourdes is also home to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Five ways to increase the number of seminarians and priests

1. Involve the entire community, movements and parishes.

On the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priests and seminarians. In 2019, on the occasion of this day, Pope Francis invited all Catholics through his prayer network to pray for priests and students studying in seminaries "so that, with the sobriety and humility of their lives, they may engage in active solidarity, above all, towards the poorest."

In the CARF Foundation this year we are launching this small campaign encouraging to pray for the holiness of all priests.

2. Young priests as role models for seminarians.

A vocations ministry that serves as a fertile ground for new vocations begins with much prayer, especially in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with holy hours in the parishes, with the younger priests involved in youth ministry. In this way, by intensifying their interior life and their love for Jesus-Eucharist, and with priests as a model, many could consider the call to the priesthood. 

3. A father figure for future seminarians and priests.

Pope Francis assures us that "the paternity of the pastoral vocation consists in giving life, making life grow; not overlooking the life of a community". St. Joseph is a good model for both seminarians and their formators on the road to becoming a priest. With his total dedication, Jesus is the manifestation of the Father's tenderness. Therefore, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Lk 2:52).

The Pope tells us that every priest or bishop should be able to say like St. Paul: "[...] through the Gospel, it is I who have begotten you for Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 4:15). St. Paul was very concerned about the formation of priests. In his first letter to the Corinthians he expresses vehemently: "Do you want me to come to you with a stick or with love and a spirit of gentleness? The formators and priests who accompany seminarians must be as a good father, who listens, accompanies, welcomes and corrects with gentleness, but with firmness. 

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4. The Christian family as a seedbed of vocations.

The family is the first agent of pastoral care for vocations (in all areas of the Church). The Christian family has always been humus and "educational mediation" for the birth and development of vocations, whether celibate, priestly or religious. 

A family pastoral care that integrates the vocational dimension must also form parents in dialogue with their sons and daughters about their faith and the way they understand the following of Jesus. But above all, vocations are forged by the example of parents in their love for God and for each other.

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5. Support the formation of seminarians.

Pope Francis mentions four pillars to support the formation of every seminarian: spiritual life, prayer, community life and apostolic life. He also delves into the spiritual dimension of seminarians, placing special emphasis on the "formation of the heart".

Having well-trained priests has a positive impact on the high cost for dioceses. Upon entering the seminary, an aspirant to the priesthood has ahead of him at least five years of ecclesiastical studies, equivalent to a bachelor's degree and a specialization. This is followed by two years or more of doctoral studies in which the completion of a research thesis is contemplated. 

Many dioceses, especially in poor countries, lack either the resources to support their seminarians, or priests with sufficient formation to be seminary formators and provide candidates with adequate accompaniment. This is where the CARF Foundation and your help. With your donation you contribute to the formation and maintenance of diocesan priests and seminarians for their studies in Rome and Pamplona with the commitment to return to their diocese of origin.

A "profession" with a future.

Benedict XVI, on the occasion of the celebration of the Year for Priests 2010, began a letter with an anecdote from his youth. When, in December 1944, the young Joseph Ratzinger was called up for military service, the company commander asked everyone what he wanted to be in the future. He replied that he wanted to be a Catholic priest. The second lieutenant replied: "You will have to choose something else. In the new Germany there is no longer any need for priests".

"I knew," says the Holy Father, "that this 'new Germany' was coming to an end, and that after the enormous devastation that that madness had brought to the country, priests would be more necessary than ever. Benedict XVI adds that "even now there are many people who, in one way or another, think that the Catholic priesthood is not a 'profession' with a future, but rather belongs to the past". Despite this current sentiment, the reality is that the priesthood has a future because, as the Pope himself says at the beginning of his letter to seminarians, "even in the age of the technological domination of the world and of globalization, people will continue to need God, the God manifested in Jesus Christ and who gathers us together in the universal Church, to learn with him and through him the true life, and to have present and operative the criteria of a true humanity".


Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Patris corde

European Congress on Vocations, Working Paper.

Pope Francis, Message for the 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Benedict XVI, Letter on the occasion of the celebration of the Year for Priests 2010.

Why does the CARF Foundation support the formation of members of Catholic congregations?

The CARF Foundation in its mission of service to the Church, is committed not only to facilitating access to formation for priests and future priests from all over the world, but also for members of various Catholic congregations of men and women religious.

In the Church there are different Catholic denominations and congregations.

Each religious congregation has its own mission and specific activities according to its charism. They dedicate their time to fields as diverse as education, health or social assistance to the most needy, or simply, through contemplation, to being the spiritual lungs of modern life. Their services are fundamental to our society and their work in these fields is highly appreciated and valued.

The CARF Foundation, in addition to assisting in the formation of seminarians and diocesan priests from all over the world, also grants scholarships to religious men and women belonging to the various Catholic congregations so that they may have access to a solid and adequate formation for the realization of their mission as pastoral agents.

Why is it important for Catholic congregations to have well-formed members?

Members of Catholic congregations are important bearers and transmitters of the faith. A solid formation enables them to fully understand and live the fundamentals of the Gospel and the doctrine of the Church.

Many of these religious orders are dedicated to education and are at the service of society. An integral formation enables them to respond to the needs of others more effectively and in keeping with their mission. Moreover, in an increasingly globalized world, it is essential that members of Catholic congregations be well trained both for institutional communication and for interreligious and ecumenical dialogue.

Some Catholic congregations that apply for grants from the CARF Foundation

The CARF Foundation supports the training of young people who belong to the Miles Christi Institute. 

The Miles Christi Institute is an association of apostolic life of pontifical right of the Catholic Church. It was founded in Argentina in 1994 and is present in several countries. The Miles Christi Institute is composed of priests and consecrated lay people who follow a form of apostolic life centered on evangelization, spiritual formation and the preaching of retreats and spiritual exercises.

Agustín Seguí is a young Argentinean religious of 29 years of age who, thanks to a scholarship from the CARF Foundation, is studying for a Bachelor's Degree in Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (PUSC) in Rome. His brother, Mariano, is also a religious of the same congregation and will join the PUSC next year. 

CARF Foundation supports the formation of Franciscan priests

Franciscan priests, belonging to the Order of Friars Minor, also known as Franciscan Friars, one of the most important religious congregations, share the distinctive characteristics of Franciscan spirituality founded by St. Francis of Assisi; they embrace evangelical poverty as a way of imitating Christ, living a simple life stripped of material goods and are committed to living in fraternal community. 

Father MarwanAfter serving as pastor at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, he was ordained a Franciscan priest. He studied at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, thanks to the CARF Foundation.

The CARF Foundation supports the formation of priests of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo.

The Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo. Missionaries of Communion and LiberationLuigi Giussan, an Italian priest. The main objective of this movement is to promote a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the profound experience of the Catholic faith in daily life.

"I cannot fail to thank those who, with prayers and material help - such as my benefactors at the CARF Foundation - have helped me in my work.-I was able to study at this great university where I met many new friends from all over the world, and I was able to study in depth with excellent professors in so many disciplines that will help me in my mission as a priest of the Lord.

Filippo Pellini is 32 years old, belongs to the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo and has received a scholarship from the CARF Foundation to complete his theology studies at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. 

The CARF Foundation supports the formation of priests of the Congregation of the Precious Blood. 

The Missionaries of the Precious Blood, founded by St. Gaspar del Bufalo in 1815 in Italy, are dedicated to preaching the Gospel and serving the redemption of the world through devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus shed on the Cross. Their charism focuses on reconciliation, redemption and spiritual renewal. They seek to bring God's love and mercy to all corners of the world and to all people.

The congregation is composed of priests and religious brothers who live in fraternal communities and profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

Francesco Albertini is a young seminarian of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and the first of his congregation to study at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, thanks to a scholarship from the CARF Foundation.

The Bidasoa International Seminar and the CARF Foundation

How do Bidasoa and the CARF Foundation cooperate?

The relationship that exists between the Bidasoa International Seminary and the CARF Foundation is an example of cooperation and social commitment. Most of the seminarians are able to continue their studies thanks to the generous support of the benefactors of the CARF Foundation, who collaborate financially, according to their possibilities, for that no vocation be lost.

The Bidasoa International Seminar

It is an international seminary attached to the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarra. It was erected by the Holy See in 1988 and has its seat in Pamplona, in the Navarre town of Cizur MenorThe property is located very close to the university campus.

The formation plan of the Bidasoa International Seminary is inspired by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in particular Optatam totius y Presbyterorum ordinisthe Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis and the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Priests according to the heart of Christ

The purpose of the Bidasoa International Seminary is the vocational accompaniment of future priests and, therefore, "the discernment of vocation, the help to correspond to the call and the preparation to receive the sacrament of Priestly Order with its own graces and responsibilities". Pastores dabo vobis, 61.

bidasoa international seminar

Human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual formation

At the Bidasoa International Seminary it is essential to enable seminarians to encounter Christ. The work of formation is oriented to the seminarian aspiring to be alter Christus in all aspects of his life, since he will participate through the sacrament of Priestly Orders, "of the same and unique priesthood and ministry of Christ". Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7. Aspirants to the priesthood must be convinced of the need to acquire a mature, balanced and sufficiently consolidated human personality that will make the gift received shine before others and enable them to persevere in following the Master, even in times of difficulty.

The pastoral formation received by the candidates of the Bidasoa International Seminary, by the spiritual director and the formators, is oriented to develop, in each one, the priestly soul; a heart of father and shepherd, soaked by the same feelings of Christ. 

This priestly formation is complemented by the scientific and teaching work carried out at the University of Navarra, where we seek to form by awakening a love for the truth. Especially in the seminarians who find themselves in the Bidasoa International Seminary, emphasis is placed on the importance of study, which prepares them for the future development of priestly ministry in today's world.

Seminarians protagonists of their formative process

During the 35 years of the Bidasoa International Seminary, the same years of existence as the CARF Foundation, almost a thousand seminarians from many countries have matured their priestly vocation accompanied by the formators of this seminary.

Based on the conviction of the importance of personal freedom as an indispensable means to achieve the necessary human, spiritual, intellectual and missionary maturity, they have tried to transmit to each seminarian that each one must be the protagonist of his formative process, knowing that responsible freedom is rooted in an atmosphere of trust, friendship, openness and joy.

This prominence is made possible by the fact that the seminarians, some of whom come from very distant parts of Spain, joyfully share the same formative experience of study, classes, prayer times, pastoral activities, get-togethers and excursions.

Seminarians in union with the bishop of their diocese

The international character constitutes a rich human and ecclesial experience, which helps to increase in each seminarian a catholic, universal and apostolic spirit. Likewise, the Bidasoa International Seminary fosters the union of each seminarian with his bishop and with the priests of his diocesan presbyterate.

Why the CARF Foundation is one of the main benefactors of the Bidasoa International Seminar 

The seminarians of the Bidasoa International Seminary come from different parts of the world. They are sent by their respective bishops in order to receive an adequate formation for their future priestly work in their dioceses. 

It is the bishops who request the scholarships from the University of Navarra, which in turn requests the help of the CARF Foundation. The objective of the foundation is to provide these young people with a solid theological, human and spiritual preparation in the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the University of Navarra and the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome). Every year, more than 5,000 benefactors make this possible.

In addition to the formation in the Ecclesiastical Universities, the seminarians need an environment of trust and freedom, a fraternal and familiar atmosphere that facilitates the clear and sincere opening of the heart and the integral formation; they find this environment in the Bidasoa International Seminary.

Throughout the 2022/23 academic year, the CARF Foundation allocated 2,106,689 euros in housing and tuition grants.

Annual meeting between benefactors of the CARF Foundation and seminarians of the Bidasoa International Seminary.

Every year, the CARF Foundation, in collaboration with the Bidasoa International Seminary, organizes a meeting between seminarians and benefactors. An intimate day, in which both parties, benefactor and beneficiary, have the opportunity to get to know each other, experience the Eucharist together and enjoy a lunch and a visit to the seminary and a musical festival that the students prepare as a way of thanking those who make it possible for them to be formed in Bidasoa.

The day ends with a long awaited moment, as those responsible for the Social Action Patronage (PAS) of the CARF Foundation, deliver the cases (backpacks) of sacred vessels to the seminarians who are in their last year. They include all the liturgical objects necessary to celebrate Mass in remote towns or villages where they barely have what they need, including a custom-made alb for each of the future priests.

Finally, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is shared; and a visit to the wayside shrine of the Mother of Fair Love, located on the campus of the University of Navarra.

"I am very grateful to study at Bidasoa because I can see firsthand the face of the Universal Church. This is because we seminarians at Bidasoa come from more than 15 countries. Another thing that we are indirectly taught at the Bidasoa International Seminary is the attention to the little things, especially in the preparation of liturgical celebrations. This is done not because we want to be perfectionists, but because we love God and want to try to do and present the best of ourselves to God through the little things."

Binsar, 21, from Indonesia.

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate the liturgical solemnity of God's love: today is the feast of love, Pope Francis said a few years ago. And he adds "the Apostle John tells us what love is: not that we loved God, but that "He loved us first". He waited for us with love. He is the first to love.

When is it celebrated?

The whole month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, although its feast day is after the octave of Corpus Christi. This 2023 is celebrated on Monday, June 18.

During the feast, St. Josemaría invites us to meditate on the Love of God: "They are thoughts, affections, conversations that souls in love have always dedicated to Jesus. But to understand this language, to really know what the human heart and the Heart of Christ are, we need faith and humility.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

St. Josemaría emphasizes that as devotees we should keep in mind all the richness that is contained in these words: Sacred Heart of Jesus.

When we speak of human heart we do not refer only to feelings, we allude to the whole person who loves, who loves and treats others. A man is worth what his heart is worth, we can say.

The Bible speaks of the heart, referring to the person who, as Jesus Christ himself said, directs all of himself - soul and body - to what he considers to be his good. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (

In speaking of devotion to the Heart, St. Josemaría shows the certainty of God's love and the truth of his self-giving to us. In recommending devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he recommends that we direct ourselves entirely-with all that we are: our soul, our feelings, our thoughts, our words and our actions, our labors and our joys-to the whole of Jesus.

This is what true devotion to the Heart of Jesus is all about: knowing God and knowing ourselves, and looking to Jesus and turning to Him, who encourages us, teaches us, guides us. There is no room for more superficiality in devotion than that of a man who, not being fully human, does not succeed in perceiving the reality of God incarnate. Without forgetting that the Sacred Heart of Mary is always at his side.

What is its significance?

The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of the central core of our faith: how much God loves us with his Heart and how much we, therefore, must love him. Jesus loves us so much that he suffers when his immense love is not reciprocated.

Pope Francis tells us that the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us to learn "from the Lord who has made himself food, so that each one can be even more available to others, serving all those in need, especially the poorest families".

May the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which we celebrate, help us to keep our hearts full of merciful love for all those who suffer. Therefore, let us ask for a heart:

  • Able to sympathize with the sorrows of creatures, able to understand.
  • If we want to help others, we must love them, with a love that is understanding and dedication, affection and voluntary humility. As Jesus taught us: love of God and love of neighbor.
  • Let him seek God: And Jesus, who has fostered our longings, comes out to meet us and says: if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. And in Him may we find rest and strength.

We can show our love by our works: this is precisely what devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is all about.

The peace of Christians

On this feast, we Christians must resolve to strive to do good. There is much to be done to ensure that our earthly coexistence is inspired by love.

Even so, the pain will not disappear. In the face of these sorrows, we Christians have an authentic response, a response that is definitive: Christ on the Cross, God who suffers and dies, God who gives us his Heart, which he opened with a lance out of love for all. Our Lord abhors injustice and condemns those who commit it. But, as he respects the freedom of each individual, he allows them to exist.

His Heart full of Love for mankind made Him take upon Himself, with the Cross, all these tortures: our suffering, our sadness, our anguish, our hunger and thirst for justice. To live in the Heart of Jesus is to unite ourselves closely to Christ; it is to become God's dwelling place.

"He who loves me will be loved by my Father, our Lord announced to us. And Christ and the Father, in the Holy Spirit, come to the soul and make their dwelling in it," St. Josemaría.

Men, their lives and their happiness are so valuable that the Son of God Himself gives Himself to redeem them, to cleanse them, to elevate them. Who will not love his heart so wounded? asked a contemplative soul. Who will not return love for love? Who will not embrace a Heart so pure?

How did the feast come about? History of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

It was an explicit request of Jesus. On June 16, 1675, Jesus appeared to her and showed his Heart to her. Saint Margaret Mary of Alacoque. Jesus appeared to her on several occasions and told her how much He loved her and all men and how much it grieved His Heart that men were turning away from Him because of sin.

During these visits, Jesus asked St. Margaret to teach us to love Him more, to have devotion to Him, to pray and, above all, to behave well so that His Heart would no longer suffer from our sins.

Later, St. Margaret with her spiritual director would spread the messages of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical "Annum Sacrum" on the consecration of the human race, which took place that same year.

During his pontificate, St. John Paul II established that this feast is also the World Day of Prayer for the sanctification of priests.

Many groups, movements, orders and religious congregations, since ancient times, have placed themselves under her protection.

In Rome is the Basilica of the "Sacro Cuore" (Sacred Heart) built by St. John Bosco at the request of Pope Leo XIII and with donations from the faithful and devotees from various countries.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Devotional

How to pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? We can get a prayer card or a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, before it, perform the family consecration to his Sacred Heart, in the following way:

Written by St. Mary of Alacoque:

"I, __________, give and consecrate myself to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my prayers, sorrows and sufferings, so as not to want to use any part of my being but to honor, love and glorify Him. It is my irrevocable will to be all of Him and to do everything for His love, renouncing with all my heart all that may displease Him.

I take you, therefore, O Sacred Heart, for the only object of my love, the protector of my life, the security of my salvation, the remedy for my frailty and my inconstancy, the repairer of all the defects of my life, and my asylum at the hour of my death.


It is Christ who passes by, St. Josemaría Escrivá.
Confessions, St. Augustine.
Letter, October 5, 1986, to Fr. R. Kolvenbach, St. John Paul II.