As part of the celebrations to commemorate the seven-hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope Paul made a pilgrimage by helicopter on Saturday (14th September) to three villages South of Rome, which are associated with the Saint's life.
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Background: As part of the celebrations to commemorate the seven-hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope Paul made a pilgrimage by helicopter on Saturday (14th September) to three villages South of Rome, which are associated with the Saint's life.
An Air Force Helicopter first took the 76-year-old Pontiff to a field at Fossanova, 90 kms. (56 miles) from the Italian capital. A carnival crowd of about eight thousand people gave him a warm welcome.
The Saint died at the Abbey of Fossanova on 7th March, 1274, as he was on his way to the second Council of Lyons, which had been summoned by Gregory the Tenth.
After his arrival, Pope Paul told the congregation at an hour-long religious service in the Abbey, that Saint Thomas had stood for trust in the "Truth of Catholic religious thought".
Dressed in white robes with a crimson mantle, the Pope then flew on to the village of Aquino, one of the two places claiming to be the birthplace of the Saint. There, he presided over another religious ceremony in the main square.
The Pope then abandoned his helicopter and left by car for the village of Roccasecca, 5 kms, (3 miles) away. The people of Roccasecca dispute the claim of Aquino, and say that Saint Thomas was born in their village.
Pope Paul stayed in Roccasecca for about half-an-hour, before leaving by car for his summer palace at Castlegandolfe.