Pope John Paul I (Latin: Ioannes Paulus I), born Albino Luciani 17 October 1912 – 28 September 1978), reigned 26 August 1978 to his sudden death 33 days later. His
papacy is among the shortest in papal history, resulting in the most recent Year of Three Popes, the first to occur since 1605. John Paul I remains the most recent Italian-born pope, ending a succession of Italian-born popes that started with Clement VII in 1523. He was declared aServant of God by his successor, John Paul II, on 23 November 2003, the first step on the road to sainthood.
Before the papal conclave that elected him, he expressed his desire not to be elected, telling those close to him that he would decline the papacy if elected, but upon the cardinals electing him, he felt an obligation to say "yes". He was the first pontiff to have a double name, choosing "John Paul" in honour of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI. He explained that he was indebted to John XXIII for naming him a bishop and to Paul VI for creating him a cardinal. Furthermore, he was the first pope to add the regnal number "I", designating himself "the First".
His sudden death caused suspicion among people that has
led to a number of conspiracy theoriesconcerning his death.
His two immediate successors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI,
later recalled the warm qualities of the late pontiff in
several addresses. In Italy, he is remembered with the
appellatives of "Il Papa del Sorriso" (The Smiling Pope) and
"Il Sorriso di Dio" (The smile of God) Time magazine and
other publications referred to him as The September Pope. He is also known in Italy as "Papa Luciani".
In his town of birth, Canale d'Agordo, there is a museum that has been made and named in his honour that is dedicated to his life and his brief papacy.
Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978, ending a reign of fifteen years. Luciani was summoned to Rome for the conclave to elect the new pope. Luciani was not considered papabile at the time, but a few cardinals approached him with their opinion that he would make a fine pontiff. The electors did not want a Curial figure, as Paul VI had been, but a warm and pastoral figure like Pope John XXIII. Luciani was elected on the fourth ballot of the August 1978 papal conclave. Luciani had previously said to his secretary, Father Diego Lorenzi and to Father Prospero Grech (later a cardinal himself), that he would decline the papacy if elected, and that he intended to vote for Aloísio Cardinal Lorscheider, whom he met in Brazil.
Jaime Cardinal Sin of the Philippines told him: "You will be
the new pope." After his election, when Cardinal Sin paid
him homage, the new pope said: "You were a prophet, but my
reign will be a short one".