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Monday, 9 January 2017

Pope Paul VI


Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini in the village of Concesio, near Brescia, in Lombardy, Italy on September 26, 1897.

Giovanni's father Giorgio Montini was a lawyer, editor of a Roman Catholic newspaper, director of the Catholic Action and member of the Italian Parliament. His mother was Giudetta Alghisi, from a family of rural nobility.

In 1916, Montini entered the seminary to become a Roman Catholic priest. He was ordained priest on May 29. 1920 in Brescia and celebrated his first Holy Mass in Brescia in the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Montini on the day of his ordination in 1920


Montini's organisational skills led him to a career in the Roman Curia, the papal civil service. He worked in the Vatican diplomatic corps and during World War II, Montini was in charge of the Vatican's work for refugees and prisoners of war.

After the death of Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, OSB in 1954, Montini was appointed Archbishop of Milan. Four years later,  Pope John XXIII made Montini a cardinal.

Montini as the Archbishop of Milan circa 1956


Montini was generally seen as the most likely successor to Pope John XXIII because of his closeness to him and his predecessor Pope Pius XII as well as his pastoral and administrative background.

When John XXIII died of stomach cancer, it triggered a conclave to elect a new pope. Montini was elected on the sixth ballot of the papal conclave on June 21, 1963 and he took the pontifical name of "Paul VI".

Pope Paul continued the Second Vatican Council which was begun by Pope John XXIII.

Picture of Pope Paul VI

His first encyclical is the only one in the Vatican archives which is in the handwriting of the pope who delivered it.

In 1964 Paul VI made a visit to the Holy Land, the first pope to leave Italy in some 150 years. There he met with Athenagoras I, the head of the Eastern Orthodox church.

Pope Paul VI arrived in New York City on October 4, 1965 to commence the first visit by a reigning pope to the Western Hemisphere.

Paul VI was known as the "flying pope" because he was the first pontiff to travel widely--70,000 miles--and to go by airplane.

Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae reaffirmed the Catholic church's historic denunciation of artificial birth control. Many Catholics were disappointed by this as it was felt that after the modernization of Vatican Two, the church would take heed of technological advances such as the pill and allow Catholics to practice contraception.

Pope Paul VI’s heavily-starched cape helped save him from an assassination attempt on November 27, 1970 by a knife-wielding Bolivian artist at Manila Airport in the Philippines.

Paul VI at an audience in October 1977

In 1978, Pope Paul VI offered his life as an exchange for the release of kidnapped-Italian Prime minister Aldo Moro The offer was not accepted and Moro was killed 55 days later.


At the age of 80, Pope Paul VI died at Castel Gandolfo, Italy on August 6, 1978, from a heart attack, after 15 years as pontiff. The Roman Catholic world was left reeling when his replacement Pope John Paul I, 65, died on September 28, after just 33 days in office.

Pope Paul VI was beatified on October 19, 2014 at Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City, by Pope Francis after the recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession. His liturgical feast is celebrated on the date of his birth on September 26.

Tapestry of Paul VI on the occasion of his beatification on 19 October 2014

Source Compton's Encyclopedia

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