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Pope Paul VI to be made a Blessed in October

Pope Paul VI offers a blessing to the faithful in Rome before flying to Istanbul in 1967 (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul VI on October 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Francis signed a decree on Friday recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul, who led the Church from 1963 to 1978. He also approved the publication of the October 19 beatification date, according to a Vatican statement.

The miracle involved the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s. According to reports, a pregnant woman was advised by doctors to have an abortion because her life and the life of her baby were at risk. Instead she sought prayers from a friend, an Italian nun, who placed on the woman’s belly a holy card with Pope Paul’s photograph and a piece of vestment he had worn. The baby was born healthy.

For Pope Paul’s Cause, doctors continued monitoring the child’s health up to the age of 12.

Pope Paul’s connection to the themes of the synod, which begins on October 5, includes the encyclical for which is he is most known, Humanae Vitae. The 1968 encyclical, which confirmed the Church’s prohibition against artificial contraception, places that conclusion in the context of Catholic teaching on the beauty and purpose of marriage, married love and procreation.

When St John XXIII died in 1963, Pope Paul reconvened the Second Vatican Council, presided over the final three of its four sessions and oversaw the promulgation of all of the Council’s documents. He also led the process of implementing the Council’s reforms.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope in the modern area to travel abroad, visiting Jordan and Israel in January 1964, Lebanon and India in December 1964, the United Nations and New York in October 1965, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugual in May 1967, Turkey in July 1967, Colombia and Bermuda in August 1968, Switzerland in June 1969, Uganda in July-August 1969, and Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoan Islands, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka in November-December 1970.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1920 and was named archbishop of Milan in 1954. Elected pope in 1963, he died at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo on August 6, 1978.