Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani

 

Part IX

 

 

 

 

 


 

Two persons hitch-hiking 

Shortly after his nomination as Patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani and his secretary had stopped their car to pick up two persons who were hitch-hiking. Although they did not recognise the Prelate,  his kind gesture untied their tongues. They commented on the recent nomination of  the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto to the Patriarchal chair of Venice: " But, after all, who is this Luciani ? No-one had ever heard of him. Someone other than the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto should be  governing  Venice ". Monsignor Luciani did not reveal his name and, during the trip, speaking kindly, he explained how the ways of the Lord were not those of men and how the Will of the Lord would not always agree with mortals' expectations. How exactly he said this isnít known, but he had to be very convincing if both of them, at the end of the route, were warmly thankful and they told him: "There is a Priest like you should be the Patriarch ! ".

G. Fanelli

From L'Osservatore Romano, Oct 10th, 1978  

 


 

He will be called Gregorio XVII

The new Cardinal Albino Luciani was in Belluno for the celebration of San Gregorio Magno, Patron of his old Seminary. After the liturgical celebration, the Priests (more than a hundred) met for a fraternal lunch in the Seminary refectory. The toast was made by Monsignor Antonio De Lotte, the oldest Priest of the diocese of Belluno. With his voice still steady as an optimal preacher, he sang the praises of the neo-Cardinal projecting them in the future and saying very textually: " You have made us use the names of Eminence, Patriarch, Bishop, Monsignor, Vice-director, chaplain; donít let us put limits to the Divine Providence; we wish to be able to call you by the name of Gregorio XVII " ( note : Gregorio XVI was from bellunese origin ) ". A deafening applause submerged Monsignor De Lotte, while Cardinal Luciani, amused, moved his head, holding his cutlery nervously.

from " L'Amico del Popolo ", 1978

 


 

The wine with ' additives ' can make someone feel really bad !

  Don Albino, Vice-director of the Seminary of Belluno.  He worried that we might not eat enough: " Fasts will be made when you can. Now, you must grow and thatís why you need to eat " and he also recommended us  to sleep " otherwise you will not pay attention to me at school ". But he slept only for a few hours and I believe that he also ate only little. More than the fast sacrifice, too dangerous then it also was visible, he wanted us to make the sacrifice of eating everything, even that we did not like and without complaint. Once, he gave me, in connection with  that, an example. I was already a Priest and I was at the table in front of him for one week of exercises. As much as I watched him, I did not manage to understand what he liked and what he did not like. In this, he also tried to be like the others and he also had a little wine.

One night, he eagerly drank a full glass of it in one go. I thought that he had a fever, but it was another thing. At the end of the course of exercises, I knew that someone had inadvertently dropped some detergent into the wine. Probably, Don Albino had drunk it in such a way because the taste was bad. More likely, he had felt, consequently, badly enough during the night, but he had not said anything ".

don Aldo Belli

from " La Sorgente ", 1981

 


 

Warning : Nuns very dangerous !

 

 

Monsignor Luciani and a group of Sisters in Vittorio Veneto

 

 

The Patriarch with Brazilian Sisters

 

" I am in Villa Immacolata since 1973. In Padova, at the Hospital Nunís community,  was also his ' little aunt ', sister Roberta Tancon. When this sister became ill, he (the Patriarch) came to visit her. Not very often, due to the many engagements he had. When he came, he remained a very little time with the aunt because the Nuns 'robbed' him. So much that I often have heard to sister Roberta complaining : " Sempre voialtre andť a parlar con me nevodo e mi non posso mai ", oppure: " Ma xe possibie Che ogni volta Che vien me nevodo tute le suore ghe saltŠ dosso, e a mi gnanca na paroeta". (" You are always going to speak with my nephew and I never can " or also " But, is it possible that whenever my nephew comes, all the Nuns jump around him, and I am lacking a little word ?"). She died (when he was in Rome), on June 12th , 1973 ".

 

Simplicity and appreciation

  Another episode in Villa Immacolata. " One morning, I went with Loretta, a girl who collaborated in the House of exercises, to the Cardinalís room for the normal tasks of cleaning. Some moment later, he arrived, too : " Eminence - I told him Ė come in, we will return soon ". " No, - he answers - Do what you have to do, remain inside, I'll remain seated here ". There was no way to convince him, and he remained seated waiting outside. This was repeated other times ".

 Last time I saw him was when finishing the exercises of the Bishops of Triveneto in June ' 78. He came to greet us, the kitchen Nuns : "Smell," he said, smiling  " what a good little smell ! What  beautiful casseroles ! Thanks for everything, you know ? I am not  worthy ". He left by the trades-mens' entrance".

sister Gianna M. Marchi

from " La Difesa del Popolo ", August 26th, 1979

 


 

The fire

  " Once, going towards Bolzano Bellunese (it was mid- June, time for examinations) at a certain point, we saw a stable in flames. L'Ť fogo! L'Ť fogo! . ( Fire, fire! ).I first entered to untie the beasts and, immediately behind me,  with plenty of courage, Albino. We managed to save them all.  

But we returned late to the Seminary, at about 9.00p.m., and we had to bear a 'sermon'  from the Vice-Director, don Mario Coletti. Explaining the situation, everything was put right immediately. A few days later, a basket of cherries arrived at our table from the farmers who wanted to thank us ".  

 

don Costante Pampanin

from " L'Amico del Popolo ", 1978 

 


 

Walking quickly

  " Arriving in Belluno, in Summer of 1949, I met Monsignor Albino Luciani, whom my predecessor, Monsignor Bortignon, had named his general pro-vicar, placing him next to Monsignor Pietro Rizzardini, giving him powers and charging him with tasks to which the young pro-vicar, with a surprising attitude, gave reasoned and fast execution. The speed was and continues being   one of his characteristics in listening, in intuition, in deliberating, in acting. How many times, joking, I applied the Biblical verse to him: " Nondum verbum est in prays meo, et jam nosti totum " : that is, " Before I even open my mouth, you already know everything that I am about to say ". When we walked together, he always went some steps ahead of me; he did it inadvertently. I watched him under the glasses, he reduced speed (quickly) and followed my step, but only for a while. The instinct surpassed him to his regret. He smiled about that, humble and patient with me, pedestrian of placid and calm step. This haste of his was the symbol of his movement and of his intellectual opening : to start off immediately to the hunting of the questions, holding them and appropriating of them, by intuition more than by process of analysis, seeing surely the depths. Seldom did later discussions lead to change his first view.

Monsignor Luciani saw within the problems, very quickly. However, he also, like the rest of mortals,  had his limits. I want to give an example. Personally, in evaluating events and people and taking a decision, I have always been  a 'placid pedestrian '. Luciani, perhaps, was however more impulsive. It still seems to me to see him when, in certain circumstances, I watched him over and under the glasses ".  

mons. Gioacchino Muccin,

Emeritus Bishop of Belluno-Feltre

   


The Cardinal already learns to be a Pope

  1977. Patriarch Luciani with Paul VI during the Ďad liminaí visit .  Paul VI was at the centre of the library and had, to his right, Cardinal Luciani. At the end of the speech, the Pope looked for the bell push-button, placed on a flank of the armchair arm, to warn the assistants that the audience had finished and the photographers could come in. Strangely, the Pope could not manage to locate the push-button and continued looking for it with his hand. Nevertheless, it was always in the same place and that call was repeated by him so many years ago !

  Cardinal Luciani realized and, after a few moments  hesitation, he took the Popes' hand and he placed it on the push-button. Paul VI, in a low voice, not heard by all, said: " So, you have already learned where it is ". In that moment, I had a tremor. It seemed to me a prophetic word ".  

 

Mons. Maffeo Ducoli,

Emeritus Bishop of Belluno-Feltre  

 


 

A farmer in difficulties 

" He (Luciani, Bishop of Vittorio Veneto) had chosen to live in the middle of the people, as a father, brother and friend. Like the shepherd of the flock, he felt isolated and cut-off in his Episcopal residence in the castle of San Martino, located high and outside the city. The magnificent view of the greenery, the trees and the vineyards around Vittorio Veneto did not  console him from his isolation, because he was convinced that he would have been a better shepherd if he had lived in the middle of his flock. Luciani was made like that, and once, he hurried with his secretary to help a farmer who, from his window, he had seen in difficulties as he dragged his cart full of cut grass along a very steep footpath ".  

Msgr. Giovanni Ronchi  

 


  Beautiful women on TV 

"From Priests, he mainly requested obedience, exemplariness and moderation. He had his monthly conferences with clergy with rare competition. In one of these, he made the following exhortation :

" Priests, do not waste too much time in front of the TV where suspicious women appear; they are not ugly at all, understand ? ". A deafening laughter preceded the applause ".

don Pietro Battistella  

 


 

More signs of humility

Msgr. Luciani in a course of spiritual exercises in Villa Immacolata at Torreglia, near Padova.

" He did not accept anything, he did not want anything, he did not request anything : almost that still the simplest service, to which he had a right, constituted for him a privilege. There was no form to bring something to his small apartment : not even the mail. He personally came to look for it so as not to put anyone about. If he needed to speak with our Bishop, he did not summon him to visit: he himself went to meet him".

Msgr. Pietro Brazzo

Director of the house of Exercises

from " La Sorgente ", 1980  

 


Annoying vivacity 

The years of  elementary school of Forno di Canale. In the first years, he was surely anything but a model student. Perhaps with his strong temper, with  his kindly, but not less annoying vivacity, he was almost a challenge to his mother and his teachers. Often, his teachers could not do any other than to request his mother,  Bortola, to visit the school for a 'chat'. It was not that the boy was bad-mannered or disrespectful to the teachers,  or a  villain towards his companions but, simply, he could not remain quiet on his bench. Many years later, some ex- students of Theology professor, Albino Luciani, will remember that, as Professor, only very rarely was he seated calmly on a chair.

 

Sometimes surely, his female school friends incited him to pull their hair; or to jump on benches when he was 'fighting'  innocently with his friends; or to sit on the teachers' chair (which was raised on a platform). All things that today seem normal and irrelevant facts of scholastic life, that it would be ridiculous to consider them as problems. In times gone by, it was not like that; thatís why the boy had a mark in conduct that, if he could see now, it wouldnít live up to him Ė just as John Paul himself, smiling, confessed to Bellunese pilgrims years later.  

 

from Edoardo Lucianiís memories ("Il Celentone")

and from "L'Amico del Popolo", September 9th, 1978

 


 

A punch in the face 

In Venice, his outer modesty could be touched by the hand : the Patriarch used to go for a walk in the evening, alone, by the narrow, romantic streets of the city of the lagoon. Nothing distinguished him from a simple Priest. One night, he arrived at his residence with a swollen cheek " What happened ?", asked the frightened Nuns  who came to him. " Oh, nothing in particular - the Cardinal answered - I met a drunkard, " a Priest-eater ". He hit me on my face. And here I am ". The Police investigations did not give any result.

Msgr. Giovanni Ronchi  

 


Problems with the Ďmotoscafoí 

"After having been with the Bishop (of Padova) in the Patriarchy, we had gone towards the wharf. The Cardinal wanted to accompany us and took us in the motorboat, since he had to go to celebrate, I donít remember, what ceremony. At a certain point, the motorboat beached. It was necessary to request help and to  transfer to another boat. It was a good solution to the disadvantage, but the Patriarch continued saying: " I am sorry for the Bishop of Padova who has so much to do and so many engagements".

Artemio Marivo

driver-waiter of the Bishop-palace of Padova

from " La Sorgente ", 1980  

 


  A greeting in German 

"On the occasion of a visit to the Maria Waldrast Sanctuary (Austria), a waiter, recognizing him by the Episcopal ring, greeted him in German, and the Patriarch also answered him in German at the greeting. He was asked if he also spoke that language. He answered : " I have also to greet groups of German language speakers that visit St. Marks".

Fr. Angelo M. Pedot

from " La Madonna di Monte Berico ", 1980  

 


A favour at Christmas 

 " It was Christmas Eve. Monsignor Luciani had also helped to design the manger, built - with simplicity - in the Episcopal chapel. After the Midnight Mass celebrated in Vittorio Veneto Cathedral, Luciani, accompanied by the Nuns and the personnel of the house of exercises, placed the image of Jesus Child on the straw of the manger. He stopped to pray, knelt down and sang a sweet popular Christmas melody. He wished " Merry Christmas " to all, he went to his room, turned-off the heating and spent the night in the cold. On Christmas day, when he returned to the Bishops' palace, after  the solemn pontifical, the Nuns had prepared a festive little lunch. Luciani requested them all to sit at his table. He told the Nun :

"Sister, could you make me a favour ?"

" But, Excellence, I am here, tell me what do you wish ?"

" But, do you promise me that you will not be offended ?"

" But no, be calm; it is enough for me to make you happy and I am here to serve you."

"Then, please, can you bring me that little drop of soup that had was left yesterday evening ? What you have prepared for me today, I will taste it, I will congratulate on you and then I pray you to send it to that poor family we know."

" But, Excellence, the soup is cold; it is Christmas, have it tomorrow."

" Hey ! Sister, I imagined that you always take me at my word... But just because it is Christmas it is necessary that I, being a Bishop, give an example of love to the poor and poverty myself, as I have taught by speech to imitate Jesus... And then I have also invited this Priest and I am glad he is with us and not alone to spend this holiday of  Gods' goodness towards us... "

don Francesco Taffarel

from " La Fiamma ", 1985  

 


 

Irresistible fascination

"We had met him here (at Pietralba). He came since he was young. He had returned often as a seminarian, Priest, Bishop. Year by year, the appointment had become a ritual. We were all around him and he spoke, prayed, played bowls with us, sat at our tables for meals. He took a seat in our poor car and guided us to the places of his memories, to his house.

He knew all, and was interested in all. A  man so rich with humanity, so overflowing with spiritual gifts, so full of irresistible fascination, so transparent in his simplicity, humility and sanctity. We will not see him any more in these mountains.

 

don Mariano Tognetti

from " Humilitas ", 1986

 


Retained desires 

" I have taken great care not to mention his probable election; it would not have been of good taste : Is it possible sincerely to wish a Cardinal to become a Pope ?

That is, to be invested with an authority and such great responsibility ? When going, I could only tell him: ĎWe will pray to the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Cardinalsí. He he raised his eyes up to the sky and went away quickly smiling ".

Msgr. Maffeo Ducoli

from " L'Amico del popolo ", 1978  

 


A Brazilian Cardinal becomes a journalist 

From an interview to Cardinal Paulo E. Arns, Archbishop of S„o Paulo.  

- His candidacy, in the Conclave of 1978, had been programmed by Brazilian Cardinals?

ARNS: No, there was no propaganda, no campaign. His election was an intuition for me. I intuited immediately that Cardinal Luciani would have been a very simple Pope and very collegial. Those two aspects were fundamental for us. However, I wanted to catch more deeply his person to know how would have been his Pontificate, that, in the period of time between his election and the coronation (note : beginning of Pontificate Mass), I went to visit all the places in which he had lived and developed his pastoral action. Some exponents of Communion and Liberation were of a  disposition to accompany me and I travelled with them. I visited his native home at Canale D'Agordo. I went to Vittorio Veneto, Belluno, Venice. I spoke with relatives and friends, with whoever knew him. When the day of the coronation arrived (note : beginning of Pontificate Mass), at the moment of the greetings to the Cardinals, Pope Luciani told me: " Eminence, you are a reporter! My relatives told me that they have had to tell you all my life story".

from " 30 Giorni ", Aug-Sep/1998

 


 

Days of euphoria and hope

 

"Pope John Paul I has been very loved. After his election, a great part of hope and euphoria surrounded his cautious movements, that were seen by many as a preparation to spectacular and desired changes.

It would be enough to talk about the words, directed to the Cardinals during his first audience. He had begun to play with the papers in his hands, then he has reflected aloud: " Dear brother Cardinals, must I read the prepared speech or can I improvise ?". Spontaneous laughter exploded from the audience and the Pope decided to improvise: " I am new in the Vatican, about whose work I am absolutely ignorant. The first thing that I did, as soon as I had a little time,  has been to take the yearbook (Pontifical), to study a little the Holy See organisms, so much I am ignorant and distant to know the gears well ".  

 

Card. Leon Joseph Suenens,

Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels

from " The BC Catholic ", Mar 13th, 2000  

 


 

The adventure of becoming the Patriarchís secretary

 

" In 1975, my Superior sent me as cooperator of St. Pius X parish from which we were in charge at Marghera. There, in January of the following year, I again met the Patriarch (...) and I took him by car up to Piazzale Roma. During the trip, (...), having known that next July the International Eucharistic Congress would have taken place in Philadelphia, I dared to tell him: " Eminence, as I know a little English, I would like to offer myself as a companion and a luggage carrier ". I donít remember the answer, now. I know that shortly we arrived at the station and the speech was interrupted.

At the end of June  that year, I met again with the Priests of the diocese at Paderno del Grappa (...). At the end of a lunch, the Patriarch approached telling me: " Do you remember your offer to accompany me to Philadelphia ?". I thought, in that moment, he was going to reproach me for my audacity. Immediately, he added: "I won't be going to Philadelphiaí, but I would like you to come with me to serve me as a private secretary". I answered him: " Here, it is my direct Superior. If you consider, speak with him". He immediately pointed that the Superiors already knew the proposal. At that point, I added: "(...) I even donít ask of you a day to think about it. If you want, I also accept immediately". So, the adventure of Albino Lucianiís private secretary had begun (...) ".

 

 

Obliged by force

 

"The night of August 6th, 1978, the news of the unexpected death Pope Montini arrived to the Patriarch at the Venice Lido where he was since some days ago. The next morning, he returned to the see and, required by the local newspaper director to write something that talked about Paul VIís successor, he began his article like this : " Cardinal KŲnig, archbishop of Vienna, has said recently that, in the next Conclave, the elected Cardinal will have to be obliged by force - in a metaphoric sense, I mean - to accept the election ". While I typed the manuscript, I said to myself : " And, who will be able to accept hits at the back without rebelling oneself, if not a true humble one ". And Ďhumilitasí has not been the motto and the star for 20 years, at the light on which the Patriarch of Venice lives and accepts the comings ? A few days later, on August 10th, we left by car for Rome. As guests of  the Augustinian Fathers, very near to St. Peterís Basilica, Cardinal Luciani spent two weeks of great retreat (...)

During those days, he was not - as it was said malignantly from other Cardinals - vector of consensuses; he neither pronounced in favour of a future Pontiff of " immediate and aggressive leadership "; nor, finally, was an inventor of candidacies. However, he knew of being judged as " a discoloured" by a newspaper; I think that, in front of this adjective, he would have smiled and  told himself, like so many other times: " It is necessary to have patience ".(...) '    

" I was in St. Peterís Square when Cardinal Felici gave the announcement of the election using the Latin formula, repeating the term " Dominum twice " before adding " Albinum Luciani ". (...)

It will seem strange, and nevertheless I expected to hear that name ' Albinum '. Why? (...) I expected it for the sum of Christian virtues that I had verified on the man. Also, many times  previously I had been  thinking that, that sum of virtues, should have to be offered as a manifestation to the whole world. It is necessary to remember, in fact, what those months of 1978 had meant: the tribulation, the vicissitudes, for example, of Italian people taken as a target by the Red Brigades. The Moro affair still bled. And well, I myself considered that, if the world had wanted to take a breather and to regain courage, it would have had to look at this manís face, gentle and humble (...).

 

 

Dressed as a Pope for the first time

 

" In the afternoon on August 26th, in the balcony of St. Peterís lodge, he appeared likeable, warm, and armed with joy, the new Pontiff, John Paul I. (...) He was immediately called the smiling Pope. From him, immediately, people liked his simplicity, modesty, virtues that also the press hurried to publicise. I, who was in St. Peterís Square, thought about God that, suddenly, had burned to Albino Luciani, at the Tevereís borders, the ships of the reserve and the concealment, in which he had lived as if they were his natural habitat during decades, and He had obliged him to take the way to offer himself to the whole world (...). He had obeyed and had moved Ė he said the next day - having his hand on Christís, leaning on Him (...)

I saw Luciani with the Papal habit for the first time on the night of his election, at about 9.30p.m. I entered the room where he was talking with the Cardinal Secretary of State (...). When he saw me, he came to meet me (...) and he told me: " Your words were demonstrated exact... See you tomorrow ".

It was his first day as a Pope; first of another thirty two, with which to compose now an insurmountable passage in the life of the Church(...)

 

 

" I accept Ö I accept Ö I accept ... "

 

" His inner attitude prevailed over the outer considerations. To the Lord who sometimes requested  him to become himself educator or Superior in the Seminary or General Vicar or Bishop, first in Vittorio, then in Venice, shortly, in Rome, he must have replied every time: Yes, I am sad, but I accept ". I like to imagine that, when he accepted to be a Pope, God could have told him: " Come on ! Work hard only for a little time, only for few days. Donít worry ".

 

 

" Sometimes I ask  the Lord to take me with Him " 

 

 " Monsignor Antonio Mistrorigo, Bishop of Treviso, in an interview, put in Patriarch Lucianiís mouth an expression that he must have picked up in one of his many meetings he had with him and to whom, I had also heard him say in one occasion: " Sometimes I ask the Lord to take me with Him". God asks us, orders and He prevails; but in  the end, He rewards those who have offered Him obedience, listening to His requests (...) It would not be necessary to be astonished that this had also happened to Albino Luciani. On the other hand, it is only in this level of faith that we can look for the suitable answer to certain kinds of questions.

Now, the questions, the biggest one (...) was that a million people simultaneously had the morning of September 29th, 1978, at about 7.00AM, when the Italian radio and ANSA gave the announcement of the death, followed by the medical bulletin (...)

For me (...) it was not something forced, nor a simple solution and not even a quick " to finish the game ", to return to that request to God so that He took him with Him : a request that Ė according to my point of view - must have become insistent not saying arrogant, due to the great confidence existing between him and God, already from the first days after his election. How will the Eternal one have answered him ?"

 

 

Thursday September 28th, 1978 - The last hours - The pain in the chest

 

" After the audiences of that day - the last one of which to Cardinal Secretary of State Villot - we were at the table waiting for  supper, when he began (...) telling we secretaries: " What a strange thing ... I am feeling sharp pains in the chest... I still notice that they are being reduced in intensity ". My surprise was shared with Monsignor Magee, who hurried to say: " There is always a duty doctor ready; it costs nothing to call him ". We were convinced not to do it (...). My inexperience, then, about premonitory symptoms of cardiac problems referred to these sharp pains, played a remarkable part during the performance of the supper.

When we had finished supper (...) we accompanied him to his room and Father Magee, forgetting about whatever had been said at the table, indicated to  him a knob that hung at the bed head saying: " Holy Father, if tonight you need some help, by pressing this, you will be able to call us ". He was convinced and (we stated it the next morning) we left him reading some writing from the years in which he was Bishop of Vittorio Veneto. Understandable for me, knowing the customs: it was the night between Thursday and Friday and it was urgent to find something that was useful to him for the  next Sunday Angelus (...) "

 

 

A title that nobody will never steal from  him: The smiling Pope

 

" His Pontificate lasted only 33 days. The time of a smile. Cardinal Albino Luciani, on St. Peterís chair was a surprise for many. His first movements as a Pope were all marked of simplest humility (...)

There have been one who has made an hypothesis about a " secret " in Lucianiís smile. This smile has represented a new fact, an unpublished mark of a Popeís public personality, but it was a very well-known and habitual mark in Lucianiís personality. I have had the way to return to see many photos of the Patriarch appeared in ĎGente Venetaí, the Catholic weekly magazine of Venice, and taken between 1971 and 1978 and I could once again still state how the smile on Albino Lucianiís lips was a constant still before August 26th, 1978.

What perhaps, in that respect, it is necessary to notice is that already in his first appearance at the external balcony of the Vatican lodge, more than a smile, it was  open laughter, open to 360 degrees, is it said like this ? which seemed to me to be an absolutely new, previously unknown, aspect.

 

This fact had given him that title of " the  smiling Pope " that nobody will never steal from him and that I share only partly, because it can be a way, still involuntary, but, anyway, enough restricted to judge Lucianiís Pontificate. (...) I remember, in that respect, an American journalists' commentary, mentioned by Cardinal Baggio, in a conference of 1979, after Pope Lucianiís death and before   the successive Conclave: " It hadnít any importance that the Pope who was about to be elected was an Italian or not, diplomat or shepherd, a languages expert or not; liberal or conservative; not even was it important to be an erudite or to be a saint: it was enough that he knew how to smile. Only a man like this would have incarnated the Christian vision of  hope ". It seems to me to see in these words to recognize the truest interpretation and compromising of John Paul I smiling. (...) "

 

 

Kneeling behind the Pope

 

" When in the afternoon of August 26th, 1978, God requested  Luciani  to accept the heaviest sacrifice -  to sit on Peterís chair, in Rome, he accepted on his fragile shoulders the weight of the Pontificate with a 'yes'  that took, in those Saturday eves, a Marian sea l: it had in it, all the Ecce Ancilla and the Fiat of the Virgin. Yet, it was also  Peterís answer, that we had heard in the pre-festive liturgy to the reading of the Gospel: " Lord, you know that I love You ". Three days later, John Paul I told the Cardinals : " Be near this poor Christ, become a Vicar of Christ ".

(...) What I saw of him in the years that I was near him in Venice also continued with all naturalness in the 33 days spent in the Vatican as a Pope, in narrow coherence himself and in his whole life. I think  it was not a coincidence that the subject of his first Wednesday audience was 'humility' (...) The same subject we can find on the text of the second Angelus, pronounced on Sunday September 3rd, some hours before starting the solemn beginning of his Pontificate.

I am sure that those who were there at that moment in St. Peterís Square couldnít fail to feel  goose pimples. On that day, the Church celebrated St. Gregory Magnus, and John Paul I remembers that, this his successor, did not want to be elected as a Pope, until, to make him accept it, the Emperor had also to take part. Also, he reported two passages of two of Gregorys' letters, written when he had accepted his election as  Pope. The first one belongs to a letter addressed to his friend, Leandro, Bishop of Seville: " I wish to cry, more than to speak ". To the Emperor Gregorysí sister he wrote : The Emperor has wanted a monkey to  become a lion". Immediately, Luciani added: " Itís possible to see that also in that time it was difficult to be a Pope".

During that Angelus, I was kneeling behind the Pope who spoke from the balcony of his study, and I thought to myself : ĎHere it is the whole Lucianií.

With that citation (...), he indirectly meant to us : what had happened 1500 years ago to Pope Gregory, happened again today. Not the Emperor but only God has wanted that a poor person like me became a Pope. Therefore, Humilitas, yes in the Episcopal coat of arms but more extensively in Lucianiís life".  

 

don Diego Lorenzi

from " Avvenire ", August 27th, 2000  

 


  I donít speak the language "

 " Of Pope Luciani I have a peculiar memory; it is necessary to be situated in the Synod of ' 74, dedicated to the Evangelization in the today world. The then Patriarch of Venice, during the intervals, didnít go to the bar to have something; so he had a drink brought to him and took it into the Synod room. It was another opportunity to converse. I remember that, the next year, we celebrated the first centenary of the Veneto colonists arrival to Brazil. In 1875, the Emperor Peter II had divided Rio Grande do Sul into two parts between German and Veneto colonists. For this reason, as the Church as the government had invited the Patriarch of Venice to go to Brazil. Luciani confided his indecision to me: " They have invited me", he told me, " but, what am I going to do there ?" I am very busy and in addition I do not speak the language ". " Eminence - I said -, if it is for the language there will be no difficulty because they speak pure Veneto dialect, the one that was spoken before, 'not contaminated'  by Italian. The linguists, who love to study the old Veneto, indeed go to Rio Grande do Sul... " In fact, he did not have problems with the language. He confirmed this to me when I returned to see him after his visit ".

Card. Lucas Moreira Neves

Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops

from " Cristo Hoy ", November 26th, 1998

 


Delicacy 

" That morning of September 29th, 1978, when at 8.00a.m., on the radio, I heard of the mysterious passing of Pope Luciani, I immediately pictured him, smiling and familiar, twenty-two days before at the same time. He had welcomed myself and my wife into his study,  in that limpid beginning of a September morning, after having crossed the Vatican lodges and still deserted rooms.  Whilst he talked domestically with us, he watched insistent the angle of the table where there was a push-button with the pontifical signs. " I would like to push the button to ask someone to bring you  a coffee but I don't like to trouble people". A very human delicacy that perhaps that night made him die totally alone ".

Vittore Branca

from " 30 Giorni ", July-August 1998  

 


 

John Paul Iís portrait 

"The first pictures of John Paul I had already appeared in the souvenir shop windows the day after his election: in this, the retailers  were not backward ! The new Popeís face perfectly expressed goodness and, at the same time, humour; his face, rounder, contrasted with the emaciated Paul VIís, the flesh was pinker, the black and rebel hair put out the white skullcap, the cheerful eyes did not manage to disguise, behind the bifocal lenses, a sparkling glance, the lips were opened in an authentic smile that illuminated all the face. The chin was firm but non-prominent. The profile: the nose appeared right and rather prominent. The whole appearance gave a impression of solidity, of security. If the anguish, for such a  heavy load, was in John Paul I, as he has often repeated, it did not yet scratch the calm goodness of a trusted face".

Jean Chťlini

from "La vita quotidiana in Vaticano sotto Giovanni Paolo IIí

 

 


 

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

 

 

GCM 2001 - 2004