A private papal audience was something very important for Don Orione, that is why he wanted to prepare his heart to meet the “sweetest Christ on earth” by a good confession.
But, the confessor’s speech was very long and Don Orione was in a hurry, so he shortened his confession. Then the Pope, maybe inspired by the Holy Spirit, advised him to say all his sins to the confessor.
Pius X and Don Orione are two souls who had much in common. They could see into the far distance, sometimes beyond the limits allowed to nature, as if a ray of God's light were passing through them.
Before going to a papal audience Don Orione never failed to do two things. These were to put his appearance in order and to make his confession. At St. Anna dei Palafrenieri he was able to shave, change his cassock and his shoes, put on a ferraiolo (cape) and a hat, as he intended to defer to everything that etiquette prescribed. Whenever he put these on he was able to present himself properly, even if all those items had been borrowed.
He left St. Anna's full of joy and entered St. Peter's to make his confession before going into the Vatican. As soon as he discovered that there were no confessors available in the basilica because it was out of the normal hours, he hurried off towards the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina in Borgo Nuovo and came up to an old Carmelite priest for confession. He had calculated on the few minutes he had available before the time set for the audience, but the good father began to go on at length with advice and exhortations. At every sin of which Don Orione accused himself there had to be a corresponding little sermon. The situation threatened to prolong itself beyond the time that he had set aside since Don Orione, who was such a “great sinner”, had many faults to confess. Looking at his watch once again and seeing that he would not be able to arrive in time otherwise, he cut short his confession and begged the confessor to give him an immediate absolution because he had to meet the Pope very shortly afterwards.
Once out of the church he hastily retraced his steps, went up the stairs and arrived, completely breathless, two minutes before the time stipulated.
When his turn came he went forward with a humble and devout bearing and prostrated himself in order to kiss the feet of the Holy Father, who said immediately: "You must have had a lot on your conscience if you felt the need to go to confession before coming to see the Pope." Then he added: "Another time, though, tell them all to the confessor." Smilingly he then made him get up and take a seat and spoke with him for an hour with fatherly kindness.
No-one knew that Don Orione had been to confession. How, then, could the Pope have made that remark to him?