The Holy See announced that Pope Saint Paul VI’s feast day will be celebrated May 29th annually as an optional memorial.

In a decree from Congregation for Divine Worship dated January 25th, Pope Francis established the Memorial of Pope Saint Paul VI to be inserted into the renewed General Calendar of the Roman Rite that he promulgated in 1969 as the late pontiff guided the Church through the Second Vatican Council.

Calling him a “a courage apostle of the Gospel,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, commented on the papal decree.

“Before and after becoming Pope, Saint Paul VI lived with his gaze constantly fixed on Christ whom he considered and proclaimed as a necessity for everyone.”

The feast day for canonized saints is typically chosen as the date of their death, or “birth to eternal life,” but Paul VI died on August 6, 1978, a date already celebrated as the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Instead, the date of May 29 was chosen for his feast day – the same date as the ordination anniversary of Paul VI, then Giovanni Battista Montini, to the priesthood in 1920.

“A saint is someone who brings divine grace to fruition in what they do, conforming their own life to Christ, Pope Saint Paul VI did this by responding to the call to holiness as a Baptized Christian, as a priest, as a Bishop, and Pope, and he now contemplates the face of God.”

 In his meditation, “Pensiero alla morte,” Paul VI wrote just prior to his death:

“I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to make of my approaching death a gift of love to the Church. I can say that I have always loved her and I feel that I have lived my life for her and for nothing else.”

Saint Paul VI was canonized by Pope Francis last year on October 14th, along Oscar Romero and five other new saints. The miracle approved for then-Blessed Pope Paul VI involved the scientifically inexplicable healthy birth of a high-risk pregnancy.

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