Today, 29th May is the feast day of Pope St Paul VI.
Usually the feast day of a saint is celebrated on the day of his death, but Paul VI died on 6th August 1978 which is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. 29th May was chosen as his feast day because it is the date that Paul VI was ordained to the priesthood in 1920. Paul VI was elected Pope in June 1963 and was Pope during my teenager years and my years of training for the priesthood. He was responsible to guiding the Church through the Second Vatican Council, the renewal of the Roman Calendar and the liturgical books. Although he might be best know for his encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (On human Life) he also wrote the radical “Populorum progressio” which dealt with the topic development of peoples saying that the economy of the world should serve mankind and not just a few people.
In 1975 he issues an apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) on the theme of Catholic evangelization. It affirmed the role of every Christian, not only ordained ministers, priests, and deacons, or religious, or professional church staff, in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was the first pope to receive an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, in official audience as Head of Church, after the private audience visit of Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher to Pope John XXIII on 2 December 1960.
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.”
St Pope Paul VI pray for us.