The hour of the beatification of Pope John Paul 1er seems to be approaching. As usual, the anniversary of the election of 263e Pope of the Catholic Church was celebrated Thursday, August 26, with a mass in the central square of Canale d’Agordo, in Venitia, where he was from. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and postulator of the cause of Albino Luciani.
This year, the event had a particular resonance, because Jean-Paul 1er could be declared “blessed” by his successor, Pope Francis. The publication of the papal decree, the last step before the declaration of the beatification during a Eucharistic celebration, could take place after the month of October, during which the session of cardinals and bishops will meet to vote or not on the delivery of the file between the hands of the Pope.
A thirty-three day pontificate
According to the Italian daily Avvenire (held by the Italian Bishops’ Conference), the theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave the green light on May 6 to continue this trial, recognizing “Scientifically inexplicable” the healing of an 11-year-old girl suffering from a severe form of encephalopathy, thanks to the intercession of Albino Luciani. In 2019, the Medical Council of the Congregation also unanimously approved the miraculous nature of this healing, the last step missing for the beatification.
The Venetian Pope, the last Italian to date, was ordained a priest in 1935. He was then appointed by John XXIII bishop of his original diocese of Belluno-Feltre in 1958 before becoming Patriarch of Venice in 1969. Elected Pope on first day of the conclave, he died on September 28, 1978, after a 33-day pontificate, the shortest in the recent history of the papacy.
“Pope with a smile”
Despite a lightning pontificate, Pope Luciano left behind him the memory of a pope close to the faithful, abandoning the use of “we of majesty” to express himself in the first person. His simplicity attracted him the sympathy of Catholics, who nicknamed him the “smiling pope”. Strong supporter of the encyclical Humanae Vitae of his predecessor Paul VI, he reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to abortion. Sensitive to the issue of poverty, John Paul I also defended the idea of a “Fair wages” for all workers.
His beatification process, opened in 2003, was marked by the observation of deep gaps in the constitution of the file, which led to a second investigation which took place between 2008 and 2016. The heroic virtues of Albino Luciani were recognized by Pope Francis in 2017 who declared him venerable and thus paved the way for his beatification.