A few days ago, Pope Francis beatified John Paul I, whose papacy lasted just thirty-three days. Seems a significant number in Biblical terms. Sacred tradition tells us Jesus was thirty-three years old at the time of His crucifixion. We know the number three to be holy and God doesn’t do anything without meaning. It’s sad, though, that we lost such a wonderful pope after such a short time.
Blessed John Paul I was born Albino Luciani on October 17, 1912 in Italy, and died on September 28, 1978 in Vatican City. He was known for his cheerfulness and was an inspiring writer. In a letter written five days before his death, he said, “evangelization prepares for the sacrament, the sacrament draws him who has received it to live in a Christian way.” Blessed John Paul I certainly lived in a Christian way, both in dedication to the Lord and service to others.
Faith and kindness
In the same letter, he wrote, “I should like also that Rome should in fact give a good example of Liturgy celebrated devoutly and without ill-placed “creativity.” He was a fan of tradition while not completely admonishing so-called new evangelical techniques. He understood the richness of the faith. He once said, “My mother never told me to go and become a priest, never; but she was so good, she loved the Lord so much that when He called me, I spontaneously took this path.” What a testament to the importance of a mother’s love for God before her children!
He insisted to all priests he ordained to treat people well and to be gentle even if some seem ungrateful. He had such a tender heart and spoke from that heart to his priests and all the people. His love for the Lord poured out on all those to whom he spoke or wrote.
He was also the first pope to take two names after Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. “John XXIII, the former Patriarch of Venice, had made him a bishop. Paul VI had named him the Patriarch of Venice and a cardinal.”
In 2011, a girl in Argentina was suffering seizures and sepsis. Her mother happened to meet Father José Dabusti and he suggested she pray to John Paul I. She obliged and the girl was healed. After the proper investigations, Pope Francis recognized the miracle in 2021.
More of Blessed John Paul I’s writings can be found in his book, Illustrissimi, which contained open letters by the blessed pope to various people – real and fictional – including Mark Twain and Pinocio. His calm and humble demeanor can be found on every page.
As we near the anniversary of his death, perhaps we do well to pray to imitate his example: gentleness and kindness to others, devotion to the Lord always, and a smile on our faces. Let’s close with one the final pieces he wrote days before his passing.
“I can assure you that I love you, that I desire only to enter into your service and to place the poor powers that I have, however little they are, at the disposal of all.”
Featured image: Wikimedia commons.