Pope prays Blessed Paul VI will intercede for ‘church he loved so much’

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — On the 40th anniversary of the death of Blessed Paul VI, Pope Francis went into the grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica to pray at his predecessor’s simple tomb.

The pope who oversaw the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and began implementing its teachings died Aug. 6, 1978, at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence outside of Rome.

He was buried six days later in the basilica’s grotto. Unlike most of popes buried there, his tomb is in the earth — rather than elevated — and is covered with a simple travertine marble slab.

Reciting the Angelus prayer Aug. 5 with visitors in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded them of the anniversary and of the fact that he plans to canonize his predecessor Oct. 14.

“From heaven may he intercede for the church he loved so much and for peace in the world,” Pope Francis said.

He called asked the people in the square to join him in a round of applause for “this great pope of modernity.”

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