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December 19 – Blessed Pope Urban V

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Blessed Pope Urban V was born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310. He studied canon law and theology in Avignon and became a Benedictine monk. He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, and served as a papal diplomat and was eventually sent as an ambassador to various locations. He also served as a bishop around Italy and throughout Europe. He was elected pope in 1362 while on diplomatic business, even though he was not a cardinal. His reign was blessed by his peacekeeping activity between the French and Italian kings, the founding of many universities, his zeal for the crusades and his decision to return the papacy to Rome and end the Avignon exile of the popes. However, the breakout of war between England and France forced him to return to Avignon on a peacekeeping mission.

He died on his return to Avignon, and his body, which had been buried at Avignon, was then transferred to Marseille according to his own wishes, and his tomb became the site of many miracles. He died on December 19, 1370. He always had a Benedictine spirit, and even wore his monk’s habit as Pope. His virtue and honesty were noted, especially in a Europe plagued by scandal and corruption.

It is said that as he lay dying he called the people to surround his deathbed, saying “the people must see how popes die.”

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