The Beatification of Paul VI: a Simple Guide to a Momentous Occasion


Beatification, which could be likened in gravitas to a papal election, is a moment of joy and celebration for the Vatican and the Catholic community all around the world. Thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage to Rome to witness this memorable event. The upcoming Beatification of Paul VI will take place on October 19th – here’s what you need to know if you are planning to take part!

Beatification: the Last Step Before Canonization

Beatification is the official declaration that a deceased person lived a holy life and is now able to be enjoying the happiness of Heaven and capable of interceding on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. Beatified people are called “Blessed” and are entitled to specific religious honor. The candidate has to meet two essential conditions in order to be declared “Blessed:” 1) he or she must have practiced the virtues of the Church in an exemplary manner and with heroism (martyrdom is considered the highest virtue), and 2) he or she must be credited with a miracle. Beatification is the last step before Canonization where the Blessed is credited with a second miracle and thus entitled to become “Saint.”

Paul VI: a Pope with a Special Bond with USA

Pope Paul VI, whose full name is Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, was born on 26 September 1897 in Concesio, a village in the province of Brescia in Italy. He was the 262th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and reigned from June 21, 1963 until his death in 1978. Pope Paul VI succeeded John XXIII and was followed by the short pontificate of John Paul I. In addition to becoming famous for surviving an assassination attempt at the Manila airport in 1970 and for his decision to ban contraception use for Catholics, he played a big role in the history of the 60s and 70s.

Antonio Vitale Bommarco visiting Pope Paul VI (credits: Wikimedia - Fraapolloniotottoli)

Antonio Vitale Bommarco visiting Pope Paul VI (credits: Wikimedia – Fraapolloniotottoli)

Pope Paul VI’s papacy stands out for promoting a more social and progressive Catholicism, showing interest in working conditions and labor issues, and putting emphasis on the dialogue with all nations of the world through establishing diplomatic relations. A specific piece of the late pope’s history closely related to the USA. The miracle that led Pope Paul VI to the happiness of Heaven involves a child born in California in the early 1900’s. When the child’s mother was advised to terminate her pregnancy due to complications with to the fetus, she decided to turn to an Italian nun for help. The nun prayed to Pope Paul VI on the mother’s behalf, and the baby was later born completely healthy. To this day, there is no scientific explanation of the healing.

Ceremony of Beatification: a Solemn Observance for the Catholic Community

The ceremony will take place on October 19th, 2014 at the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square. Unlike Canonizations, which are required to be held only in Vatican City, Beatifications can take place anywhere in the world. Therefore, this particular Beatification will be an uncommon circumstance as it is held in Rome. As a result of this coupled with the fact that this is the Beatification of a Pope, many pilgrims are expected to travel from all over the world to witness the historic event. As usual, the ceremony is open to the public and no formal invitation is required, and we recommend you to arrive as soon as possible to find a comfortable place in the square. Taking part in a major event like this is sometimes easier said than done and you may need to be prepared to it; here you find some useful tips for Major Events in Saint Peter’s Square.

The Vatican: a Unique Combination of Art and Spirituality

Once you took part in the extraordinary event of Beatification you can’t miss visiting the Vatican City. This unique experience will allow you to see a masterpiece of art and spirituality contained in one micro-nation. Although there are endless opportunities, there are at least 4 places that you just cannot afford to miss while you are there:

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art

  • St. Peter’s Square: When you participate in the Beatification, the huge crowd might impede your enjoying the full beauty of the piazza. You might want to come back when is quieter to admire Bernini’s majestic colonnade, look at the Swiss Guards or simply dive into the spiritual atmosphere of the Vatican.
  • Cappella Sistina: The Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums but it deserves a special mention for its uniqueness. Here you will admire one of the top ten world’s greatest masterpieces, Michelangelo’s amazing ceiling fresco that shows Adam brought to life with the touch of the Almighty’s forefinger.

Visiting the Vatican is a remarkable experience but planning your visit could easily become a headache when is time to book tickets, make reservations to enter places and standing in never-ending lines, especially in conjunction with such a huge event like Beatification. The best way to make this process a lot easier is to book Skip the Line tickets or – even better – chose between private or group tour of the Vatican in order to enhance your experience and not to miss the history behind those masterpieces!

Rome: The Vatican Multiplied

After spending one or two days in the smallest nation of the world you might want to cross the “Mura Leonine” and step onto Italian ground. In the blink of an eye you will find yourself in an authentic open-air museum whose beauty can only be compared with the Vatican itself. The list of what to see in Rome is immense; you might need weeks to visit all its treasures! Therefore, if you opt to extend your trip to spend a few days in Rome, we highly recommend you to focus on the places you wish to see and plan your itinerary very carefully! You have two options to go about seeing the main site of the Eternal City: do it yourself or take guided tours.

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Whether you do it yourself or you go for a guided tour, the Beatification of Pope Paul VI is definitely the perfect occasion to combine the thrill of attending a historical event with the pleasure of being surrounded by centuries of art and history.

And let’s face it, where else in the world can you have the same, full experience?

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