Anecdotes and Testimonies of Pope Luciani


Part VII







- 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 ... 

Some 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 ...

The Bishop went ahead, with lively, single step... by foot... "


A 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.

It 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 bell tower.

And, usually, the Bishops' meeting finished with "a hot" little quina, that helped them to sleep all the night ".


Liver pains

 " 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.

When 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." ...

In 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 ?...

One 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".

I confirmed my identity to him and I added: " Much better I know you, Eminence. Luciani, Patriarch of Venice! "

We 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

Some 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 ". 


Carlo Cremona

from "Avvenire" 27/9/95



Fragments of an interview to Don Ettore Fornezza, parish Priest of S. Michele of Marghera (VE).


" 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 different transfers.

Still 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

 In 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 ".

Don Licio Boldrin


" 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


Shared annoyances

 " 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.

When 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

 "I 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.

  The 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".


Criticized freedom

 " 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 "


A Cardinal on a bicycle

 " 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 ".

Any 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 ".


Taste for celebrations

 " 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 ".


Giuseppe Riggi

from " La Gazzetta del Sud",

Sep 28th, 1994




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