Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani
- From "Humilitas" 1984 - 1985
Mons. Luciani and the cloak
Mons. Luciani with the borrowed cloak
The official photo of Albino Luciani, as soon as he was consecrated Bishop of
Vittorio Veneto, together with PapaGiovanni XXIII and other Bishops, what is
very funny is this: the cloak of Mons. Luciani, much too long, is
decidedly absurd. Father Francisco Taffarel explains that " Luciani was
introduced to his episcopal consecration without the official (but useless - -it
is said for recorded and with all respect) head of ceremonial clothing and had
to the end borrowed it from Mons. Micossi, prevost of Serravalle, decidedly
taller than him. With his good nature and simplicity, he accepted that cloak,
that looked like an enormous sheet of tin. The shape is saved, the aspect much
less ". Father Ausilio da Rif explains that Luciani " was not lacking
the cloak. It was in possession of the secretary who, entering in Vatican, had
stopped at the door in order to control the pilgrims who entered and arrived in
the room of audiences in delay ". Therefore Mons. Micossi lent Luciani his.
Mons. Luciani with his cloak
To stretch my legs
November 1976, Patriarch Luciani had been invited to preside at a celebration
Frassinelle Polesine in the XXV Anniversary of the alluvium of the Po.
" He came to my parish in order to remember the 84 victims of " the
truck of the dead " and in order to render thanks to the Bishops, Parish
Priests and many people of the human solidarity that s' was poured on the
Polesine with that sacrifice. It was raining. I was astonished when I saw don
Diego - his new secretary - coming to the Church without the Patriarch. Entering
the town, in fact, he had asked to travel on foot for " to stretch the legs
a little ". A way to break with protocol and to come into the Church mixed
with the people. "
An unexpected cortège
To the sick ones and the sufferers, the Patriarch reserved also in Venice one
particular attention. In Vittorio Veneto he was accustomed to move with freedom
in his tours through the hospitals with his smile, his word of comfort, his easy
joke. The secretary accompanied him by car to the door of the hospital and,
while the Bishop went alone, remained inside the car to read. In Venice he never
succeeded to repeat this that had become a happy " habit " for him.
When the Patriarch arrived, " the alarm " was released and the
poor Patriarch found himself surrounded without warning by administrators,
doctors, friars and nuns. He greeted them goodly-naturedly. He added with his
own gestures, that he always seemed to apologise for disturbing them: " I
do not want to steal your precious time... I can make my visit alone... ".
The answer was always the same : " But imagine, it’s an an honour for us
! ". Therefore he found them in procession. His discomfort gradually
increased and, after a short visit, he always said: " Beh! perhaps it is
better to continue other time, by now it’s late... ". Processionally he
was accompained to the exit, while he, at every step, stopped himself to "
dismiss them ". " Imagine... it is a duty for us! ". He escaped
to the open air and told me: " But, are they always like that? What a pity...
I was accustomed to a different way... Or we will succeed to make it understood
or I will have to renounce some visits ". And, insisting, slowly -
also because the ‘opposition’, the secularism, the trade-union fights...
made their part very soon - he succeeded to have a little more " freedom
" of circulation. He went then on Sunday evenings, when he knew it
would be quieter and he would be alone ".
A joke with the coffee
I found myself in Venice (...). I noticed that the city was again holding
the Carnival: it was an afternoon of February 1978. I passed between the
Arlecchini and the Colombine that watched in order to guess whether I was really
a Priest, or just dressed as a Priest... and I entered in the patriarchy with a
smile of relief. That day, Cardinal Luciani came to me asking if I would
appreciate a coffee. " Sure - I answered - also because it’s not usual to
have coffee with the Patriarch every day ... And then, even, they make him
Pope... ". He did not leave me to end the joke; he watched me,
wanting to reproach me. When we went up the stairs towards the kitchen, he
had recovered : " It’s lucky that we are in Carnival... and that we
have one great respect of the Holy Spirit ! This will not happen, be calm ; but,
if also a misfortune of that kind had to happen, there will be
coffee in Rome, too ... if they will give it to us".
The notes of the Pope on the roofs of Saint Peter
Albino Luciani become Pope, the doctor had advised him to walk for at
least an hour a day; but his first days were filled with audiences and
official engagements. Therefore, one of the collaborators, reminded the new Pope
that over the apostolic palace, there was a hanging garden where Paul used to go
in the last years. He wanted to see it and he also carried the pending job.
Arriving at the place he began admiring the public square below and the city of
Rome; indeed, he placed the sheets of an important speech that he was preparing
on the table in the garden, in order to observe the panorama freely.
Sister Vincenza tells that, while the Pope watched with the simplicity of a
child the big city, a gust of wind made every sheet of paper of the speech fly:
" Help ! ", the Pope began shouting and smiling. Several persons
came to help him; whilst some of them climbed on the roofs and others went
down into the public square, the Pope commented: " You see, sister, the end
that the words make... also those of the Pope. Facts are what are
don Licio Boldrin
A good glass of vinegar
from a companion at seminary in the days in which Albino Luciani was a
seminarist. " One day, we were the parish priest guests in a parish close
to the city (to tell the truth all the Parish Priests greatly liked
seminarists ) who, inviting us to enter the kitchen, wanted at all costs to
offer a glass of his good wine! We were embarassed when we noticed that it was
authentic vinegar. What to do? One of them knocked at the door of the Parish
Priest, and he gave us the solution to the problem : the sink solved the problem!
Only a full glass remained , that of the good Albino. He drank it until
the end. What a real lesson for us. "
Giuseppe De Cassan
Bells ringing for festivity
the acceptance and the festivity dispensed to Bishop Luciani when he visited a
parish. " " The festivity " not only continued at " the
centre " but also in the oratories of the fractions (...). and, with much
enthusiasm and honor, Luciani commented to himself : " It seems to me that
I am " a harlequin pretended prince "; I am an emigrants' son; I am a
son of humble and poor people; I am ashamed for too much festivity for me.
It should be better to spend a little time in church to pray. We can put on a
little of red if it serves to enter the Paradise. Children like the red
". " Excellence, people want you to put on yourself all the red
you have, that they can notice you are a Bishop ". " But, don... it is
not necessary; in any case it is necessary I try to be similar to the ass that
carried Jesus in the day of the entrance in Jerusalem ... "
don Francisco Taffarel
Punctuality and at the table with families
" Sometimes it could also happen not to find anybody at the Church we were to attend. It was six o’clock. The winter had brought a deluge of rain during the night. The Church was closed. The Bishop controlled the timetable on his own agenda and then he said to go... to the Parish Priests' house. After ringing the door-bell, the Parish Priest showed himself, almost breathless, and said: " But what a way to be so punctual with this weather!... " He ran to open the Church and to start ringing the Church bells.
with the sick in the families, the meeting was always festive and moving (...).
The family was ready in front of the house, whilst the head of household greeted
and received the Bishop first, who went quickly up the stairs to meet with
the sick person. He called him by his name, he was interested about his illness,
and as the time passed, he was interested about the children, and then he
invited all for prayer. His humour was not absent in order ‘ to pull on
the moral ‘, and when he was perceived, he charitably left the sign of his
unnoticed love, even hidden under the pillow. Afterwards, seated around the
kitchen table, the lady of the house brought out every gift of God: cakes,
fruits, while her husband put on the table, with satisfaction, the grappa
and the wine " that good ... that from the last Mass ".
don Francisco Taffarel
The new Patriarch and the dancing masks
was 10 February 1970, his second day, with plenty of engagements, as Patriarch
of Venice. " the supper and the festivity of " fine carnival "
with Superiors and the seminarists are the occasion in order to return to be a
" seminarist ", reviving scenes and the same jokes and songs for all
the seasons of the life... Some hours of serenity, with the young people, in
order to hope and to live again an unworried joy of a, now, far age. Towards
11p.m., with the vaporetto, we return home. It’s cold. Some masked, some
small group that dances and sings. At the corner of Piazzetta dei Leoncini
some masked people are close to us in a dancing circle : an embarassing moment,
then someone in bauta throws to us a handful of small pieces of paper and,
breaking off the circle, with a deep bow, the masked person greets: " Good
morning, Mr. Patriarch ". He is already one of house.
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