“Commending her noble soul to the merciful goodness of our Heavenly Father, I assure Your Majesty of my prayers that Almighty God will sustain you with his unfailing grace as you now take up your high responsibilities as King. Upon you and all who cherish the memory of your late mother, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings as a pledge of comfort and strength in the Lord,” the pontiff wrote.
In June, Pope Francis sent a congratulatory message to the Queen as the U.K marked the 70th anniversary of her reign.
As queen, Elizabeth served as de facto head of the Anglican Church. Her title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” dates to the reign of King Henry VIII. As such, she appointed archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Church of England and presided over the opening of their General Synods.
She was a vocal proponent of the practice of religion, whether it was Anglican or not. She used her Christmas Day message to call for interfaith harmony. On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th year of her reign in 2012, she and the duke of Edinburgh attended a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury.
“Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action,” the queen said at the time.
“Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely, and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves,” she said.
In matters of personal faith, the queen was said to have been deeply religious. The Washington Post reported that, according to Oxford University theology professor Stan Rosenberg, the queen had “a deep vibrancy of faith,” and “read Scripture daily, attended church weekly, and regularly prayed.”
In 2010, she welcomed then Pope Benedict XVI to the U.K., the first state visit of a pope to the country. St. John Paul II had visited the U.K. and met with the queen in 1982, but his was a pastoral rather than a state visit.
Jonah McKeown is a staff writer and assistant podcast producer for Catholic News Agency. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and in the past has worked as a writer, as a producer for public radio, and as a videographer.
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