Fifty years ago, Pope St. Paul VI watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the moon.
The pope looked at the moon from a telescope and watched the landing on television from the Vatican Astronomical Observatory.
He dedicated Psalm 8 to the astronauts, giving them a handwritten letter to leave on the moon. He also blessed them once they landed. He then congratulated President Richard Nixon via telegram for the successful landing.
Pope St. Paul VI sent this message to Apollo 11 astronauts:
“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will!
Christ, when coming among us from the abysses of the divinity, made this blessed voice resound in the firmament.
Today, we, His humble representative, echo and repeat it as a festive hymn on the part of our whole terrestrial globe, no longer the insurmountable boundary of human existence but the open threshold to the wide expanse of boundless space and new destinies.
Glory to God!
And honor to you, the architects of this great space undertaking! Honor to the men responsible to the scientists, the planners, the organizers, and the technicians who made it a reality!
Honor to all those who have made possible this most daring flight. Honor to all of you who in any way played a part.
Honor to you who, seated at your marvelous instruments, control the flight; to you whom inform the world of the enterprise and its time-table, which extends to the depths of the heavens the wise and bold dominion of man.
Honor, greetings and blessings!
Here, from His Observatory at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, Pope Paul the Sixth is speaking to you astronauts.
Honor, greetings and blessing to you, conquerors of the Moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams! Bring to her, with your living presence, the voice of the spirit, a hymn to God, our Creator and our Father.
We are close to you, with our good wishes and with our prayers. Together with the whole Catholic Church, Paul the Sixth salutes you.”