On the 40th anniversary of the death of Blessed Paul VI, Pope Francis went into the grotto under St Peter’s Basilica to pray at his predecessor’s simple tomb.
The Pope who oversaw the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and began implementing its teachings died on August 6, 1978, at Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence outside of Rome.
He was buried six days later in the basilica’s grotto. Unlike most of the popes buried there, his tomb is in the earth – rather than elevated – and is covered with a simple travertine marble slab.
Reciting the Angelus prayer on August 5 with visitors in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded them of the anniversary and of the fact that he plans to canonize his predecessor on October 14.
“From heaven may he intercede for the Church he loved so much and for peace in the world,” Pope Francis said.
He called asked the people in the square to join him in a round of applause for “this great Pope of modernity.”
Blessed Paul VI will be canonized during the Bishops’ Synod on Youth, together with Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, u ħames beati oħra.
Pope Paul VI is still remembered for his Encyclical Humanae Vitae which is now 50 years old, in which he reaffirmed the teaching of the Catholic Church against contracepiton.
Pope Benedict XVI described Pope Paul VI as “superhuman” while Pope Francis said of him that “ he knew how to witness, in difficult years, to the faith in Jesus Christ.”