Pope Paul VI – the first Pope to travel outside Europe? – 1897

Pope Paul VI – the first Pope to travel outside Europe? – 1897

The Pope Paul VI was born on this day as Giovanni Battista Montini. He originated from the city of Concesio, Lombardy, between Milan and Lake Garda (Lago di Garda). He was born in 1897, the same year as Amelia Earhart, William Faulkner, and Dorothy Day.

Giovanni Battista Montini became a priest when he was only 22 years old. During World War II, he was a member of a Vatican commission tasked with helping the refugees fleeing the Fascist and Nazi regimes and war victims in general.

Montini became the Archbishop of Milan, a very important position in the Italian Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Milan had around 2,500 priests, 1,000 churches and 3.5 million inhabitants. It is still considered the largest archdiocese in the world.

Archbishop Montini was named Cardinal in 1958, at the time of Pope John XXIII, known for opening the Second Vatican Council in 1962. Unfortunately, John XXIII died the very next year. Cardinal Montini was elected as his successor, took the name Paul VI, and presided over the rest of the Council.

As Pope, Paul VI introduced many reforms to the Catholic Church. He was the first Pope in history who often traveled to other continents. He visited all of them save Antarctica, and was the first Pope to travel by airplane during his pontificate. He contributed greatly to the growth of the ecumenical dialogue, meeting with both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. The process of beatifying Paul VI was set in motion during the pontificate of Saint John Paul II. He was proclaimed Servant of God, and was later (during the pontificate of Benedict XVI) declared Venerable (Lat. venerabilis).

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