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Under the Roman sun

· The beatification of Paul VI ·

Paul VI is blessed. Pope Francis beatified him on Sunday, 19 October. This proclamation to the world was accompanied by a loud hymn of joy and glory which rose up from St Peter's Square. That hymn echoed the hymn sung long ago by the more modest choir in the Parish of that city in the Roman hills on the evening of 6 August 1978.

It is truly unique that on the day recognizing Pope Montini's holiness during a Roman October in 2014 the harmony of that choir, improvising in the Church of San Tommaso da Villanova in Castel Gandolfo and announcing Paul VI's death, returned to recall history. That night in 1968 Paul VI left the headlines and entered history.

His “return” to the square on Saturday, 12 August 1978 also made history, when the funeral of a Pontiff was celebrated for the first time: Paul VI's funeral, that is. Pope Francis wished that the beatification of his predecessor coincided with the concluding celebration of the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, an institution which was created by Pope Montini himself on 15 September 1965.

Pope Francis presided at the ceremony outside of the Vatican Basilica in the presence of Benedict XVI. In fact in 1977 Joseph Ratzinger was the last cardinal to be created by Paul VI. At the Mass, there was an impressive number of concelebrants including Synod Fathers and many other cardinals and prelates from around the world.

In another sign of tribute, Pope Francis wore the chasuble the Paul VI received for his 80th birthday and also used the staff of his predecessor, celebrating the Mass with one of his two chalices. At the moment of the proclamation, after Bishop Monari presented his request to Francis, the tapestry on the Basilica's facade with Pope Montini's image was revealed. The image, taken by Pepi Merisio, shows the Pope who is walking with his arms outstretched with a large smile on his face. His liturgical feast will be celebrated on 26 September: the day on which he was born in Concesio. (Mario Ponzi)

Pope Francis' homily 

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 19, 2018

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