Catholics in Rome paid tribute to Pope Paul VI who died 33 years ago today on August 6 1978, after holding the office of the papacy for 15 years.
“Paul VI built his spirituality on the Eucharist both celebrated and adored,” said Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste at a Mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome this evening.
“Every Sunday afternoon, when not engaged in apostolic travel or a visit to a Roman parish, was spent in his chapel – made dear by works by artists he knew and appreciated – in front of the tabernacle, where in long and prayerful worship, he would entrust the problems and solutions for the spiritual and pastoral renewal of the Church to the Eucharistic Christ,” the archbishop recalled.
Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in the village of Concesio in the province of Brescia in northern Italy. His father was member of the Italian parliament while his mother hailed from a family of rural nobility.
After a career in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, he became Archbishop of Milan in 1954 before being elected to the papacy upon the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963.
“Pope Paul VI, with a respectful attention to every cultural social and religious reality, was well aware of the mission that the Lord had given him,” Archbishop Crepaldi said.
“At Geneva, in an ecumenical meeting, before the representatives of sister churches and ecclesial communities he said, 'I am Peter and by virtue of this weight of office, I point and search with you on the path of truth and unity.'”
Among others things, Pope Paul VI’s reign was defined by the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and it’s legacy, his reaffirmation of traditional Christian teaching on artificial contraception in Humanae Vitae in 1968 and his introduction of a new rite of Mass in 1970.
He was also the first pope to travel extensively and made particular effort to build bridges with other Christian churches and communities. Presently a Servant of God, his cause for beatification was opened in 1993.
“I offer this humble invitation,” concluded Archbishop Crepaldi before leading his fellow celebrants to pray at the tomb of Pope Paul after Mass.
“Follow, listen to Christ, pastor and teacher, leaving us accompanied in the faith in the Eucharist of Servant of God Paul VI, who we hope will soon be venerated among the blessed.”