St. Paul VI’s feast to be celebrated May 29
Pope Paul VI is pictured next to Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three Fatima visionaries, during a visit to the Marian shrine in Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 1967. (Credit: NS photo/courtesy Diocese of Brescia.[)
ROME — The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope St. Paul VI’s feast day will be celebrated annually on May 29 as an optional memorial.
“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,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, commented on the papal decree.
With this declaration, published Feb. 6, the pope who guided the Church through the Second Vatican Council will have his memorial inserted into the renewed General Roman Calendar and liturgical books that he promulgated in 1969.
The date of the memorial, May 29, is significant in that it is the ordination anniversary of Paul VI - then Giovanni Battista Montini - to the priesthood in 1920. Just four years later, Montini began his service to the Holy See, serving both Pope Pius XI and Pius XII. He was made Archbishop of Milan and then a cardinal before being elected pope in 1963.
“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,” Sarah wrote.
The feast day for canonized saints is typically chosen as the date of their death, or “birth to eternal life,” Sarah explained, but Paul VI died on August 6, 1978, a date which is already celebrated in the Church as the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Booze, cigars and a halo? Chesterton sainthood cause awaits approval
(Credit: G.K. Chesterton. Public Domain via CNA)
ROME — A leading scholar behind the push to advance the canonization of celebrated writer G.K. Chesterton has published a new book making a case for the sainthood of the “prolific” 20th century author, hitting back at critics who see him as unsuited for a halo.
Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society and the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, in December 2018 published Knight of the Holy Ghost, which explores Chesterton’s life and writings and responds to arguments from those who say he was too fat, drank too much, smoked too much and harbored anti-Semitic sentiments.
In comments to Crux, Ahlquist said when people think of Chesterton, they often ask themselves, “How is it that a 300-pound cigar-smoking London journalist could be a saint? He doesn’t fit the image of a saint, because of his amazing size and that halo of smoke around his head.”
However, while the famed author might not fit the bill of pious saints of the past who prayed their way into heaven in monasteries and convents, he exhibited heroic humility, Ahlquist said. In his view, Chesterton was “a great genius who really had the ability to annihilate his opponents if he wanted to, but he always treated them with charity.”
“He always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. He never flaunted his great genius, but he always made everyone feel better about themselves,” he said, and voiced hope that Chesterton’s cause for sainthood, which recently finished the initial stages, would soon move forward.
The main stumbling blocks, he said, are accusations of anti-Semitism and a lack of temperance, as Chesterton was a large man who smoked and drank a lot, and who died after the Nazi party had already risen to power in Germany but before the Holocaust.
Calling Chesterton anti-Semitic is “a very tragic portrayal, because it’s simply not true,” Ahlquist said, and insisted that despite Chesterton’s size, he was no glutton. Rather, he said, most accounts of Chesterton’s life suggest that he ate little, meaning he likely had a glandular condition that caused him to gain weight.
“As for his drinking, it was all very convivial, he wasn’t a solitary drinker, he wasn’t a drunk, but he defended drinking at the time of prohibition,” Ahlquist said, adding that this last detail “has to be remembered, he was fighting against the puritans.”
In Ahlquist’s view, Chesterton was “prophetic” in his writings, speaking to a modern crisis in politics, education, economics and the at-times troubled relationship between family and state, despite having died nearly 100 years ago.
“He really had a handle on a Catholic interpretation of the modern world. The other thing is that he really represents a joyful Christian. He really has a wit and joy that he brings to the faith,” Ahlquist said, and compared Chesterton to 15th century martyr St. Thomas More.
In addition to sharing Chesterton’s humor and intelligence, “More is more important now than he was in his own time, and he’ll be more important in the future than he is now,” Ahlquist said, adding that he expects the same dynamic will be true of Chesterton.