OBJECTS AND STORIES – The Rosary, a gift of St. Pope Paul VI to Mount Mary, Bandra

‘As for ourself, we can only say: Here We leave our heart. We feel Ourself to share in a moral citizenship with this land, which We will ever love’  – St. Pope Paul VI farewell address at Santacruz Airport, December 5, 1964.

His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, made history when he visited India to attend the 38th International Eucharistic Congress as a ‘Pilgrim’. His three day stay, from December 2 – 5, 1964, was a witness of his abiding love for the people of all classes, creeds and communities. It was ‘the warmest, biggest and most spontaneous demonstrations of public esteem and affection ever accorded to a distinguished visitor in India’s First City.’ St. Pope Paul VI, on his departure, left behind not only his pulsating heart but also certain ‘gifts’ which continue to throb efficaciously in testimony of a memory that can never be erased from the hearts and minds of the Church in Mumbai.

Amidst the recesses of the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum lies a simple white box with the coat of arms of H.H. Pope Paul VI. Within the box is enclosed the crystal Rosary, gifted by the Pope to the Basilica of the Mount, Bandra. The rosary delicately reflects the story of how it all came to be. Every bead resounds the ‘negotiations’ that had to be gone through before the Holy Father took the decision and conveyed it to H.E. Valerian Cardinal Gracias on September 30, 1964.

In the words of the late Cardinal himself:

‘When in September, 1964, I had a long audience with the Holy Father, I could vaguely sense in which direction his mind was moving. He told me at that audience that he would give me a decisive reply before my departure to Bombay, which had been fixed either for Friday, October 2 or Sunday, October 4, depending on when I would receive a call.’

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