Vatican City, Feb 6, 2019 / 05:53 am
The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope St. Paul VI’s feast day will be celebrated annually on May 29 as an optional memorial.
“Before and after becoming Pope, Saint Paul VI lived with his gaze constantly fixed on Christ whom he considered and proclaimed as a necessity for everyone,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, commented on the papal decree.
With this declaration, published Feb. 6, the pope who guided the Church through the Second Vatican Council will have his memorial inserted into the renewed General Roman Calendar and liturgical books that he promulgated in 1969.
The date of the memorial, May 29, is significant as the ordination anniversary of Paul VI -- then Giovanni Battista Montini -- to the priesthood in 1920. Just four years later, Montini began his service to the Holy See, serving both Pope Pius XI and Pius XII. He was made Archbishop of Milan and then a cardinal before being elected pope in 1963.
“A saint is someone who brings divine grace to fruition in what they do, conforming their own life to Christ, Pope Saint Paul VI did this by responding to the call to holiness as a Baptized Christian, as a priest, as a Bishop, and Pope, and he now contemplates the face of God,” Cardinal Sarah wrote.
The feast day for canonized saints is typically chosen as the date of their death, or “birth to eternal life,” Sarah explained, but Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978, a date which is already celebrated in the Church as the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Just before his death, Paul VI wrote in his meditation, “Pensiero alla morte,” “I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to make of my approaching death a gift of love to the Church. I can say that I have always loved her and I feel that I have lived my life for her and for nothing else.”
For Paul VI, “the Church was always, indeed his constant love, his principal concern, the object of constant reflection, the first and most fundamental thread of his whole pontificate. He wished nothing other than the Church would have a greater knowledge of herself in order to be ever more effective in proclaiming the Gospel,” Sarah said.