Also known as: Giovanni Battista Montini

Birth: 26 September 1897 at Concesio, Lombardy, Italy as Giovanni Battista Montini

Papal Ascension: 21 June 1963

Died: 6 August 1978

Predecessor: John XXIII

Successor: John Paul I


Son of a prominent newspaper editor.

Ordained in Bescia on 29 May 1920. Studied in Rome.

Entered the Vatican secretariat of state in 1922.

One of two prosecretaries to Pope Pius XII.

Archbishop of Milan from 1954 to 1963 where he worked on social problems and to improve relations between workers and employers.

Cardinal in 1958.

Early Career

 As Pope, Paul continued the reforms of John XXIII. He reconvened the Second Vatican Council, and supervised implementations of many of its reforms, such as the vernacularization and reform of the liturgy. He instituted an international synod of bishops; bishops were instructed to set up councils of priests in their own dioceses. Powers of dispensation devolved from the Roman Curia onto the bishops, rules on fasting and abstinence were relaxed, and some restrictions on intermarriage were lifted. A commission to revise canon law revision was established.

In 1964, Paul made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and became the first pope in over 150 years to leave Italy. That was followed by trips to India in 1964, the United States in 1965, where he addressed the United Nations, Africa in 1969, and Southeast Asia in 1970. Relations between the Vatican and the Communists improved, and Communist leaders visited the Vatican for the first time. Paul met with leaders of other churches, and in 1969 addressed the World Council of Churches, and limited doctrinal agreements were reached with the Anglicans and Lutherans. Paul issued frequent reassertions of papal primacy in the face of growing dissent within the Roman Catholic Church itself. He enlarged the college of cardinals, and added cardinals from third world countries.

In the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, Paul reaffirmed the church's ban on contraception, a disappointment to many liberals. It led to protests, and many national hierarchies openly modified the statement. Liberals raised questions about priestly celibacy, divorce, and the role of women in the church, but Paul held to traditional church positions.


 born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini 26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), reigned as Pope from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.  Montini served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential colleagues of Pope Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference.[citation needed] John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.

Upon his election to the papacy, Montini took the pontifical name Paul VI (the first to take the name "Paul" since 1605) to indicate a renewed worldwide mission to spread the message of Christ, following the example of Apostle St. Paul.  He re-convened the Second Vatican Council, which was automatically closed with the death of John XXIII, and gave it priority and direction. After the council had concluded its work, Paul VI took charge of the interpretation and implementation of its mandates, often walking a thin line between the conflicting expectations of various groups within Catholicism. The magnitude and depth of the reforms affecting all fields of Church life during his pontificate exceeded similar reform policies of his predecessors and successors. Paul VI was a Marian devotee, speaking repeatedly to Marian congresses and mariological meetings, visiting Marian shrines and issuing three Marian encyclicals. Following his famous predecessor Saint Ambrose of Milan, he named Mary as the Mother of the Church during the Second Vatican Council. Paul VI sought dialogue with the world, with other Christians, other religions, and atheists, excluding nobody. He saw himself as a humble servant for a suffering humanity and demanded significant changes of the rich in North America and Europe in favour of the poor in the Third World.  His positions on birth control, promulgated most famously in the 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae, and other political issues, were often controversial, especially in Western Europe and North America.

Pope Benedict XVI declared that the late pontiff lived a life of heroic virtue and conferred the title of Venerable upon him. Pope Francis beatified him on 19 October 2014 after the recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession. His liturgical feast is celebrated on the date of his birth on 26 September.


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