Pope Paul VI could be the patron saint for the protection of the unborn when he is canonised later this year, the postulator of his cause has hinted.

Fr Antonio Marrazzo told CNA that, given that the miracles attributed to Blessed Paul both involved unborn babies, “Paul VI might be invoked as the protector of unborn life.”

In both cases, the mother was never in mortal danger, it was not a first pregnancy, and could have ended in the child suffering severe deformities. Doctors also suggested abortion in both cases. However, the children were born healthy.

The former Pope, who reigned from 1963 to 1978, wrote in his famous encyclical Humanae Vitae that “the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.”

The document also reaffirmed Catholic teaching against artificial birth control and sterilisation.