His 33-day-long papacy is among the shortest on record—but his legacy as “the smiling pope” lives on. The video here captures some of his charisma and charm.
The Vatican on Thursday announced that Albino Luciani – better know as Pope John Paul I – has moved forward on the path to sainthood, and can now officially be called “Venerable” by faithful around the world.
Announced in a Nov. 9 communique from the Vatican, the Pope’s decision to green light the cause was made the day before, during a Nov. 8 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
With Francis’ approval of his heroic virtue, “Papa Luciani,” who until now has held the title “Servant of God,” can now be called “Venerable,” which is the step before beatification.
He served as Pope from 26 August 1978 to his sudden death 33 days later. He was the first Pope to have been born in the twentieth century. His reign is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes, the first to occur since 1605. John Paul I remains the most recent Italian-born pope, the last in a succession of such popes that started with Clement VII in 1523.
…Before the papal conclave that elected him, he expressed his desire not to be elected, telling those close to him that he would decline the papacy if elected, but, upon the cardinals electing him, he felt an obligation to say “yes”. He was the first pontiff to have a double name, choosing “John Paul” in honor of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI. He explained that he was indebted to John XXIII and to Paul VI for naming him a bishop and then a cardinal respectively. Furthermore, he was the first pope to add the regnal number “I”, designating himself “the First”.
His two immediate successors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, later recalled the warm qualities of the late pontiff in several addresses. In Italy, he is remembered with the appellatives of “Il Papa del Sorriso” (The Smiling Pope) and “Il Sorriso di Dio” (The smile of God). Time magazine and other publications referred to him as The September Pope. He is also known in Italy as “Papa Luciani”. In his town of birth, Canale d’Agordo, there is a museum that has been made and named in his honor that is dedicated to his life and his brief papacy.