St. Pope Paul VI was born as Giovanni Battista Montini into a family of three sons in northern Italy in 1897. His father, Giorgio, was a lawyer, editor, and eventually a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In 1920, following his ordination, Giovanni attended graduate studies in literature, philosophy, and canon law in Rome before joining the Vatican Secretariat of State in 1924. After 30 years of working there, he was named the archbishop of Milan where we worked to bring disaffected workers back to the Catholic Church. He regularly visited factories and oversaw the building of a local Church that was disrupted by World War II. Then in 1954, Montana was selected as one of the first 23 cardinals named by Pope John XXIII. As a cardinal, he helped prepare Vatican II and participated enthusiastically in its sessions. IN 1963, Montana was elected Pope. Pope Paul VI continued the Vatican II council until 1965 where he and Patriarch Athenagoras revoked the ex-communication set by their predecessors in 1054. As Pope, Paul VI stunned the world by making international trips to the Holy Land, New York, India, Columbia, Uganda, and seven other Asian countries during his papacy. Saint Pope Paul’s greatest accomplishment was the completion and implementation of Vatican II. Its decisions about liturgy were the first ones noticed by most Catholics, but its other documents—especially the ones about ecumenism, interfaith relations, divine revelation, religious liberty, the Church’s self-understanding, and the Church’s work with the entire human family—have become the Catholic Church’s road map since 1965.
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow-men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.
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