At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Pope Paul VI

Former pontiff is to be made a saint by Pope Francis


Cardinal Montini was elected Pope Paul VI on June 21, 1963
Cardinal Montini was elected Pope Paul VI
on June 21, 1963
Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini was elected as Pope Paul VI on this day in 1963 in Rome.

He succeeded Pope John XXIII and immediately re-convened the Second Vatican Council which had automatically closed after Pope John’s death.

Pope Paul then implemented its various reforms and as a result had to deal with the conflicting expectations of different Catholic groups.

Following his famous predecessor Saint Ambrose of Milan, Pope Paul named Mary as the Mother of the Church.

He described himself as ‘a humble servant for a suffering humanity’ and demanded changes from the rich in North America and Europe in favour of the poor in the third world.

Pope Paul had been born in Concesio near Brescia in 1897 and was ordained a priest in Brescia in 1920. He took a doctorate in Canon Law in Milan and afterwards studied at various universities, therefore never working as a parish priest.

He had one foreign posting, to the office of the papal nuncio in Poland.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, he created an information office for prisoners of war and refugees, producing more than 11 million replies to enquiries about missing persons.

He was attacked by Mussolini’s government several times for allegedly meddling in politics.

Pope Paul VI pleaded with the Red Brigades to release the kidnapped former PM Aldo Moro
Pope Paul VI pleaded with the Red Brigades to
release the kidnapped former PM Aldo Moro
Pope Pius XII made him archbishop of Milan in 1954 and Pope John XXIII made him Cardinal Priest of SS Silvestro e Martino ai Monti in 1958.

After Pope John XXIII died of stomach cancer in 1963, Cardinal Montini was elected as his successor on the sixth ballot.

He later wrote in his journal: ‘The position is unique. It brings great solitude. I was solitary before, but now my solitude becomes complete and awesome.’

Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit six continents, earning the nickname ‘the Pilgrim Pope.’

A man tried to attack him with a knife after he had arrived at Manila in the Philippines in 1970 but one of his aides managed to push the aggressor away.

Pope Paul wrote a personal letter to the terrorist group the Red Brigades in 1978 pleading with them to free the politician Aldo Moro, who had been his friend when they were both students.

After the bullet-ridden body of Moro was found in Rome, Pope Paul personally conducted his funeral mass.

Later in 1978 Pope Paul VI died at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo after suffering a massive heart attack. According to the terms of his will he was buried beneath the floor in St Peter’s Basilica and not in an ornate sarcophagus.

Pope Paul VI has already been declared Venerable and has been Beatified, and it has recently been confirmed by the Vatican that he will be made a Saint in October this year.

The house in Concesio where Pope Paul VI was born
The house in Concesio where Pope Paul VI was born
Travel tip:

Concesio, where Pope Paul VI was born, is a town in Lombardy about 8km (5 miles) to the north of Brescia. The town is in the lower Val Trompia at the foot of Monte Spina. The footballer Mario Balotelli was placed in foster care at the age of three with Silvia and Francesco Balotelli who lived in Concesio. Eventually he was permanently fostered by the couple and took their surname.

The pontifical palace in Castel Gandolfo, with the two domes of the Vatican observatory
The pontifical palace in Castel Gandolfo, with the two
domes of the Vatican observatory
Travel tip:

Castel Gandolfo, where Pope Paul VI died, overlooks Lake Albano from its wonderful position in the hills south of Rome. The Pope spends every summer in the Apostolic Palace there. Although his villa lies within the town’s boundaries, it is one of the properties of the Holy See. The palace is not under Italian jurisdiction and is policed by the Swiss Guard. The whole area is part of the regional park of Castelli Romani, which has many places of historic and artistic interest to visit.

Also on this day:

1891: The death of architect and structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi

1919: The birth of the architect Paolo Soleri

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