His first moments as Successor of Peter …
Aleteia offers our readers this rare footage (with English subtitles) of Pope John Paul II’s first words after his election.
Remembering the election of JPII
Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978, the ‘Year of Three Popes.’ The papal conclave that elected him was triggered by the death — after only 33 days in office — of Pope John Paul I, on September 28, 1978. Six weeks before that, on August 6, 1978, Paul VI died, having served 15 years as pope.
The conclave that elected Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla began on October 14 and ended two days later, on October 16, after eight ballots.
At 6:18 p.m. local time, white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling that a new pope had been elected. The senior Cardinal Deacon, Pericle Felici delivered the traditional Latin announcement from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, saying:
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Carolum, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Wojtyla
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannis Pauli
Which, translated into English, can be read:
I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord,
Lord Karol, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Wojtyla
Who had taken the name John Paul
Pope John Paul II was the second-longest serving pope in history, after Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years (from 1846 to 1878). He was also the first non-Italian pope in over four centuries (since the Dutch Adrian VI in 1522-1523). Yet, when he stepped out onto the loggia after his election, Pope John Paul II immediately won the hearts of the Italians, with just one word.
“I do not know if I will be able to explain myself well in your — in our — Italian language,” he told the Italians gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “If I make a mistake,” he said, “you will correct me!”
As this footage reveals, Pope John Paul II’s first words after his election express the core of his 26-year pontificate: the absolute centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ; total trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the deep and true communion that binds Christians together and calls them to pour out their lives in loving service for God and neighbor.
Support Aleteia takes a minute
If you’re reading this article, it’s precisely thanks to your generosity and to that of many other people like you that make possible the evangelization project of Aleteia. Here some numbers:
- 20 million of users around the world read Aleteia.org every month.
- Aleteia is published daily in eight languages: French, English, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Slovenian.
- Each month, our readers view more than 50 million pages.
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia’s social media pages.
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos.
- All of this work is carried out by 60 people working full-time and approximately 400 other collaborators (writers, journalists, translators, photographers…).
As you can imagine, behind these numbers there is a big effort. We need your support so we can keep offering this service of evangelization to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.
Support Aleteia from as little as $1 – and only takes a minute. Thank you!