Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani


 Part I






- From "Humilitas"  1984 - 1985



Mons. Luciani and the cloak




Mons. Luciani with the borrowed cloak



 In 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

 14 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. " 

don Licio Boldrin



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 ".  

don Mario don Mario Senigaglia


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".  

don Licio Boldrin


 The notes of the Pope on the roofs of Saint Peter

 When 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 important!"   

don Licio Boldrin  

   A good glass of vinegar

 Story 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. " 

don Giuseppe De Cassan


Bells ringing for festivity

 On 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.   

 And 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

 It 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. 

don Mario Senigaglia


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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