Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani
- From "Humilitas" 1996 - 1997
Unfortunate with the car... the Bishop must hitch-hike !
" The Bishop was visiting a parish in a valley. The car wheel was flat and there were three or four minutes until the meeting ...
hunters are passing by car .. ; as it is an emergency, they are asked to
give the Bishop a lift ... while the wheel was being changed.. They answered :
We have the dogs in the car ... the rifle ... it is not well that the Bishop is
in such company"... and they quickly drove away ...
Bishop went ahead, with lively, single step... by foot... "
happy table with the Bishops
Bishops also love being together. And Luciani often met Msgr. Muccin, bishop of
Belluno - Feltre, or Msgr. Bortignon, Bishop of Padova to have supper with them.
was beautiful to see them joking, telling of their adventures and
how they tried to solve difficult situations that came to them... Luciani used
to say :
"Priests donít come, or only rarely, to be with the Bishop to inform him
when things go well, but they come to tell about difficulties; the people that
donít go to Mass, the lack of means to recover the church, the oratory, the
usually, the Bishops' meeting finished with "a hot" little quina, that
helped them to sleep all the night ".
Bishop Luciani was due, towards the afternoon, in Rome, for the meeting of the
Commission of the Italian Episcopal Conference... In the morning, he went to
celebrate the Mass in a factory and was due soon to leave by car for Rome.
finishing the Mass, he had strong liver pains ...; the doctor was called and
said :"Colic ... stay at home ! "
I cannot!" It was a fast and decided answer; "I must be present... it
is an important matter. ... Let us do it in this way : in the car, I will put
cushions, I will extend myself like on a bed... You, doctor, give me medicines
and I... leave." ...
such a way, he arrived in Rome in the afternoon. Luckily, at night, it was
possible to phone to assure the doctor that the pain had disappeared !
Don Francesco Taffarel
A meeting at the newspaper kiosk
How can it happen that someone crosses a future Pope in the street ?...
morning of late August 1978, I had been going to buy my newspaper at a newspaper
kiosk in St. Peterís Square. I was at the back of the Patriarch of Venice,
Card. Albino Luciani, who was the buyer that preceded me. He turned round, his
look met my face and, timidly, he said: " I know you".
confirmed my identity to him and I added: " Much better I know you,
Eminence. Luciani, Patriarch of Venice! "
talked for a long time. So much did his humble conversation touch me that I had
the sensation of being the Patriarch and, my interlocutor, the poor Priest with
whom he had been by chance. crůnica
days' later, his voice from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica told the
world the unexpected adventure of election to the Papacy.
I was in charge of the TV-chronicle in direct by the microphones of the GR2 in St. Peterís Square and, remembering the episode of the kiosk, I was pleased of having had the first audience of the new hidden Pope, in pectore , by the Holy Spirit ".
from "Avvenire" 27/9/95
of an interview to Don Ettore Fornezza, parish Priest of S. Michele of Marghera
" You will see, you will become a Priest with me"
Do you remember the first meeting with the future John Paul I?
Sure, and it was in a very singular context. Hardly had I entered the seminary
in Venice; I was 30 years old and I had worked 12 years as an employee; it was
Winter of ' 69; Patriarch Urbani had died and Bishop Luciani had been
nominated to become his successor. Thus, during Christmas holidays, twenty
seminarians decided to go to Vittorio Veneto to meet the new Patriarch. I was
with them but, while they dressed as perfect clergymen, I still had the street
suit, with necktie and everything. Bishop Luciani welcomed us with a frank
cordiality in his " castle "; he inquired with each one about the
family and about the studies but he did not speak a word with me. At the end of
the meeting, he greeted all the seminarists and, approaching to me, he
said : " I imagine that you will be the driver... " I answered him
that I had entered the seminary a few months ealier with the hope of becoming a
Priest. " You will see - he told me immediately - you will become a Priest
with me ". And, after six years, not only had he ordained me, but I
had the satisfaction to be close to him so many times and for a long period,
like one of the family.
Close by and in private, what did you think about Patriarch Luciani?
As soon as he arrived in Venice, he nominated me " crucifer " (the
seminarist who takes the Cross in the processions) and this often allowed me to
go in his study where the cross is habitually kept. Sometimes I
accompanied him, replacing the secretary, especially during Summer and in
the main festivities. I was the only seminarist of the city and thus I had the
opportunity to meet his relatives and to talk with him during the
today, at 20 years of distance, I return with liking to Canale D'Agordo whenever
I can, his brother Edoardoís home, because there that air of simplicity and
gentility is still breathed that I have enjoyed so many times. At the table -
for example - Patriarch Luciani amused himself peeling the apple and giving it
to you ready, only as is usual to do in confidence between relatives; then he
took the best wine and he served it to you ... He had, anyway, gestures of an
exquisite kindness and knew how to make everybody feel comfortable..
Playing with the boys
When I was chaplain at S. Canciano in Venice, I often called him in occasion of a boys celebration who flew to " the patronage ", that one that, in another place, calls oratorio. He left alone in the evening and he mingled with the boys to play, to eat with them an improvised small supper, to amuse themselves with a comedy, a little carnival concert, a film. He has always given me courage to maintain with all the forces this type of pastoral commitment.
As a greeting : a little pull of hairs
the first public audience, as Pope, he greeted me by pulling my hair
and recommending me to greet my parents. When he died, I felt much
nostalgia. But I feel him alive and present. Every year I remember my ordination
going to celebrate Mass at his tomb, in Rome: I express him thus my recognition
and I request to him to still have his hand on my head ".
" Venice, beautiful Venice! "
I remember that I was present when he arrived in the diocese. In front of the
authorities and the crowd of faithful, Luciani said, among other things (more or
less): " Venice, beautiful Venice. When I was a child, my uncle told me,
because my uncle often came to Venice, that, instead of donkeys to poles, here
they tied the boats to the sticks submerged in the water! ". At my back, I
felt some monsignor to twist the nose: " They have sent us a mountain man".
Two urban guards, a little further away, affirmed the contrary satisfied: "
This man is one of us! "
Neither holy him, nor good the Nuns
" To a Nun of the Patriarchy who asked after a month: " Excellence, excuse me, but you never makes complaints; the questions are two: either you are holy or we are good ". " Neither am I holy, nor are you good ! - Luciani answered surprising the sister - My mother said that, everything that arrives in the dishes, is Providence. and, how could Providence give us bad food or what is not good to eat ? ".
Don Francesco Silvestri
" I also wanted to give a small perhaps useful testimony to still discover something of the personality and the character of the beloved Pope Luciani. One is an anecdote of the trip to Fatima in 1977 during which Patriarch Luciani had, in Coimbra convent, a talk with sister Lucy.
arriving at Fiumicino, we had discovered that, because of the delay of our
airplane, we had missed the one that was to take us to Fatima. The following
airplane would not have left until towards night, and here it was 11 in the
morning. The waiting room was full of anxious and noisy passengers, in the heat
of the Roman Summer. Patriarch Luciani, seated on an angle of the place reserved
to our group, read the breviary.
The airport director approached, very attentively, along with our people in charge, with the illuminated face of the joy to meet our Patriarch. He approached and said: " Eminence, come, I have had prepared for you a small room with several comforts where you will be able to wait in serenity the time of the departure". Smiling, with a sweet voice, Luciani answers with firmness: " Thanks, you are very kind, but I prefer to share the annoyances with our pilgrims". And he remained with us".
A suscriber to " Humilitas "
Testimonies from Father Venanzio Renier of Chioggia, Emeritus President of the Triveneto Ecclesiastical Court.
Passion of journalist
had many occasions to speak with him. His first question was : " What
nice thing has the Father to tell me ?". " Eminence, many signatures,
because you are the Supreme Moderator of the Regional Court ". Several kind
of colloquies followed. In the period in which he was writing articles of the
title " Illustrissimi ", in the Messenger of St. Anthony, I gave him
sincere congratulations because I liked them.
Patriarch said : " My passion is to write. If the Lord had not called me, I
would have been a journalist. I also write to be trained. If I donít do it for
some months, the pen becomes heavy to me. I have given all my books to the
Gregorian Seminary of Belluno library : I almost regret that, because in them I
had underlined so many things that today would have been useful to me for
articles. Some people criticize me because I collaborate with a magazine : but
the Messenger is read by one million people. The apostolate of the press is
enormous, more than predicate".
Once I risked isaying to him that to some Venetians (great gentlemen !) they did
not see with pleasure that the Patriarch relaxed by St. Markís Square, among
the people and without his hat. He smiled, amused. And to think that he would
have taken that style of simplicity and democracy still to a more high see
" He was in a parish of which, by Christian charity, he did not say the name to me. The time was humid and rainy. He had also to go for a visit to a suburb rather far out. The parish Priest, with a surprising facility, displayed a bicycle for the transport, to him who since years ago didnít use any more as that means and in Venice he had absolutely lost the custom. Smiling, he confided to me : " I was sitting, I did not fall down the ground, I went myself and arrived for the Mass, the speech and the visit to the sick : but I caught an illness through which I had to remain in bed for some weeks ".
other Bishop would immediately have ordered a taxi, to be paid for by the parish
Priest. He, however, not to humiliate him, made of a necessity a virtue :
offering everything to the Lord, still accepting the consequences ".
I think that perhaps he had never missed to the opening of the votive
celebration of the Savior (Feast of the Redentore), the third week of July, for
the procession on the bridge of boats with the 9 Congregations of the Clergy. In
that solemnity, so dear to Venetians, he used to have one of the most devoted
speeches to Christ Savior of the world with the Cross.
He also took part in the Solemn Mass of Sunday, after which followed refreshments in the library of the convent, with the mayor and the citizen authorities, with much cordiality. I felt that the complacency for the spectacular nocturnal celebration with the fireworks and the illuminated gondolas were not missing. Evident sign that the Patriarch had contemplated and enjoyed it from some balcony ".
" La Gazzetta del Sud",
Home - Anecdotes and Testimonies - Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V - Part VI - Part VII - Part VIII - Part IX - Part X - Part XI - Part XII - Part XIII - Part XIV - Part XV
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