BLESSED POPE URBAN V (1310-1370), pope
Today the Church honors Blessed Pope Urban V, a leader of the Church and who was renowned for his virtue and honesty, especially during a time of scandal, corruption and periodic political upheavals between the civil kingdoms of his day.
Born and baptized as Guillaume (William) de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc, France, in 1310, he studied Canon Law and theology in Avignon and became a Benedictine monk. He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, as well as serving as a papal diplomat, being sent as an ambassador to various locations. He also served as a bishop around Italy and throughout Europe.
While on diplomatic business, even though he was not a cardinal, he was elected pope in 1362 and took the name Urban V. His reign was blessed by his peacekeeping activity between the French and Italian kings, the founding of many universities, his zeal for the crusades – giving the cross to the kings of France, Denmark and Cyprus, 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. Shortly thereafter, Pope Urban V died on December 19, 1370. It is said that, as he lay dying, he called the people to surround his deathbed saying, “the people must see how popes die”, for he wished to give an example of faith, humility and trust in God’s Mercy, especially in the last moments of his life.
His mortal remains, which had been buried at Avignon, were transferred to the Abbey Church of St. Victor at Marseilles according to his own wishes prior to his death, and his tomb reportedly became the site of many miracles.
Pope Urban V always had a Benedictine spirit and even wore his monk’s habit as pope. His virtue and honesty were highly noted, especially in a Europe plagued by considerable scandal and corruption. He lived his life as a saint, devoting himself to prayer, fasting like a monk and directing all glory to God.
Pope Urban V was beatified in 1870 by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
We commemorate his feastday on December 19.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, catholicthoughts.info/saints, magnificat.ca and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons of Pastors ~ for a pope)
“All-powerful and Ever-living God, You called Blessed Pope Urban V to guide Your people by his word and example. With him, we pray to You: watch over the pastors of Your Church with the people entrusted to their care, and lead them to salvation.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”