“Paul VI will be a saint this year,” Pope Francis said of the imminent canonisation in a dialogue with Rome’s parish priests at the Lateran Basilica.
Pope Paul VI will become the third Pope to have been made a saint by Pope Francis. The others are John XXIII, who died in 1963, and John Paul, who died in 2005.
When he made the announcement, the Pontiff joked that he and former Pope Benedict, who resigned in 2013 and is now 90 years old, “are on the waiting list”.
Pope Paul VI became Pope in 1963 after the death of Pope John XXIII. He headed the Roman Catholic Church through the turbulent 1960s, when many priests left religious orders - and vocations to the religious life fell sharply in an era of rapid social change.
He also guided the Church through the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and the implementation of its modernising reforms.
Artificial birth control
Pope Paul VI is perhaps best known for his controversial encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life), which enshrined the Church’s ban on artificial birth control in 1968.
Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897, Pope Paul VI spent much of his career in the Vatican’s diplomatic service before becoming Cardinal of Milan.
Pope Paul VI was beautified in 2014 at the Vatican – receiving the title ‘Blessed’ – after a first miracle was attributed to him.
The miracles of Pope Paul VI
In 2003, an alleged miracle attributed to his intercession had been discovered in the America. The case involved an unborn child in the mother’s womb which suffered brain defects that would affect the child.
The doctor advised the mother to terminate the pregnancy but the mother refused to do so and requested the intercession of the late Pope at the hands of a nun who gave her a card with a piece of Pope Paul’s VI Cannock on it.
The child in question was born healthy and, to this day, shows no signs of any defects.
Earlier this month, a Vatican theological and medical commission approved a second miracle attributed to him.
More than 885 saints
Pope Francis has canonised more than 885 saints since he was elected in 2013.
Click here to read about two very special saints.