Pope John Paul I May Soon be Declared Venerable

“The heroic virtues of John Paul I will soon be proclaimed,” Stefania Falasca, the vice-postulator of his cause for canonization, announced on August 25, 2017 in an article in the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire. “The congress of theologians has already expressed a positive vote on the question this past June 1. There remains now the vote of the bishops and cardinals, which is expected by the end of the year.”

The 5 volumes of Pope John Paul I’s Positio

The news was welcomed with great emotion by the people of Albino Luciani’s hometown, Canale d’Agordo, as they gathered on August 26 for the Mass for the thirty-ninth anniversary of the papal election of the man who is still known to everyone in his native mountain province as “Don Albino. “We are awaiting with confidence further recognition of the heroic way that Luciani practiced the Christian virtues,” Renato Marangoni, the bishop of Belluno, who was the celebrant, told the congregation.

The curia (chancery office) of the diocese of Belluno celebrated the “splendid results” for the cause that was begun almost fourteen years ago, in November 2003, by the then-bishop of the diocese Vincenzo Savio. After a number of years of work, the Positio on Luciani’s virtues was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 17, 2016 (his birthday).

Later this year, the bishops and cardinals of the congregation will vote, and if the results are positive, they will be submitted to Pope Francis, who will decide whether to declare Luciani “Venerable.” Many in Canale d’Agordo hope that this declaration will come at the beginning of 2018, the fortieth anniversary of his election.

Stefania Falasca, the Vice-Postulator of John Paul I’s cause, with Fr. Vincenzo Criscuolo, OFM Cap., Relator General of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

If one of the miracles under investigation is certified, he might even be beatified towards the end of that year, though the process on a miracle is also a lengthy one: after the diocesan process, a panel of doctors needs to vote on it, as does the congregation.

Many devotees of Papa Luciani, including a dozen priests and all the mayors of the local towns were among the congregation in the newly restored church in Canale d’Agordo. “This is the decisive year,” said the bishop who, turning almost into Luciani’s “fan”, exclaimed “Forza!” (i.e. “go team!”)

At the end of September, Marangoni will lead the people of Belluno and Feltre on pilgrimage to Rome to pray at the tomb of the “Smiling Pope.”

Reporting from Avvenire, August 25, 2017 and Il Corriere delle Alpi, August 27, 2017.

Lori Pieper


At Fatima With Sister Lucia

Since this year is the centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima, it seems fitting to publish here this little article Cardinal Luciani wrote in 1977 about his talk with Sister Lucia and the urgency of Our Lady’s message.

Lucia in 1917

On Monday, July 11, I concelebrated Mass with several priests from Venice and the Veneto in the church of the Carmelites in Coimbra, a Portuguese city of around one hundred thousand inhabitants. Immediately afterwards, I met alone (only cardinals can enter the cloister) with the whole community of nuns (twenty-two, including both professed and novices). After that I spoke at length with Sister Lucia dos Santos, the only survivor of the three seers of Fatima. Sister Lucia is seventy years old, but she carries her years well, as she herself assured me smiling. She did not, like Pius IX, add: “I carry my years only too well, for I have not dropped one of them.” Sister Lucia’s jovial character, her quick way of speaking and the passionate interest she shows in her speech about everything regarding the Church today, with all its very serious problems, are proof of her youthful spirit.

I more or less understand Portuguese, because I studied it very briefly before spending a couple of weeks in Brazil. But even if I had been completely ignorant of that language, I would have understood the little nun, who insisted to me how essential it was today to have Christians, and above all seminarians and novice brothers and sisters, who have decided to give themselves to God without reserve. She spoke to me with great energy and conviction about freiras, padres et cristaos con a firme cabeça, nuns, priests and Christians with firmly held convictions. Radical like the saints: either todo or nada, either all or nothing, if we seriously want to belong to God. Sister Lucia did not talk to me about the apparitions. I only asked her something about the famous “dance of the sun.” She had not seen it. For ten minutes on October 13, 1917, seventy thousand people saw the sun changing to different colors, revolving around itself three times, and finally descending rapidly toward the earth. But Lucia, along with her two companions, had at that moment seen, next to an immobile sun, the Holy Family, and then, in successive scenes, the Virgin, first as Our Lady of Sorrows and then as Our Lady of Carmel.

Cardinal Luciani celebrating Mass in Fatima in July 1977

At this point some people will ask: is a Cardinal interested in private revelations? Doesn’t he know that the gospel contains everything? That revelations, even approved ones, are not articles of faith? I know it very well. But this is also an article of faith contained in the Gospel: that “signs will accompany those who believe” (Mark 16,17). If today it has become so fashionable to “scrutinize the signs of the times,” that we are witnessing an inflation and plague of “signs,” I believe it is permissible to refer (with human faith) to the sign of October 13, 1917, attested to even by those who were anti-clerical and unbelievers. And, beyond the sign, it is important to pay attention to the things underlined by that sign. What are they?

First: Repent of your sins, and avoid offending the Lord again.

Second: Pray. Prayer is a means of communication between men and God, but the means of communication between human beings (TV, radio, movies, press), today prevail unknowingly and seem to want to put out the whole prayer: ceci tuera cela (this will kill that), it has been said: it seems to be happening. It is not I, but Karl Rahner who wrote: “There is now underway, even within the Church an exclusive commitment of people to temporal realities, which is no longer a legitimate choice but an apostasy and total collapse of the faith.

Third: Say the Rosary. Naaman the Syrian, a great general, disdained the simple bath in the Jordan suggested by Elisha. Some people act like Naaman: “I am a great theologian, a mature Christian who breathes the Bible with full lungs and exudes the liturgy from all my pores, and you propose the Rosary to me?” Yet even the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary are the Bible, and even the Our Father and Hail Mary and Glory Be are the Bible joined with prayer that is good for the soul. Studying the Bible out of pure love of research could inflate the soul with pride and make it arid: it is not uncommon for biblical researchers to lose their faith.

Fourth: Hell exists, and it is possible to fall into it. At Fatima, Our Lady taught this prayer: “Jesus, forgive our sins, preserve us from the fire of hell, bring all souls to heaven.” There are important things in this world, but none more important than meriting heaven by a good life. It is not Fatima that says it, but the Gospel: “What advantage does a man have if he gains the whole world and then loses his own soul?” (Mt 16:26).

First published in Gente Veneta, July 23, 1977, p. 5.

Museum Dedicated to Pope John Paul I Opens in Canale D’Agordo as his Sainthood Cause Advances

(Canale D’Agordo, August 26, 2016).

His fourth-grade school notebook, the little bag he used in the seminary with his initials, his personal chalice, the vestments he wore as a bishop, the suitcase he took with him when he left Venice for the conclave – these are among the most moving exhibits of the new museum dedicated to Pope John Paul I.


On Friday, August 26, 2016, the 38th anniversary of his election as Pope, the Museo Albino Luciani-Giovanni Paolo I was formally inaugurated in his hometown, the village of Canale D’Agordo in the Dolomite mountains in northern Italy. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, presided over the ceremony after the solemn Mass concelebrated in the village square by Cardinal Parolin, Renato Marangoni, the Bishop of Belluno and Giuseppe Andrich, the Bishop Emeritus of Belluno. "The exhibition is characterized by the special involvement of the visitor,” says the museum’s curator Loris Serafini, “who, as he hears or reads a sort of autobiography taken from the writings of the Pope, is conducted in the experience by the words of Albino Luciani himself."


The Pope's voice accompanies some significant moments, and lights, sounds, pictures, film clips, documents, clothes, objects, and text contribute to creating an atmosphere that evokes the time periods of the life of Albino Luciani, from the early 20th century to 1978. "Emotion will no doubt be aroused by the spontaneous story of the conclave narrated by the voice of the new Pope John Paul I after his election, or watching the home movies of the Sixties and Seventies that capture him as bishop of Vittorio Veneto, patriarch of Venice or Pope,” says Serafini. “The simplicity and linearity of this museum are intended to leave in the memory of those who visit an echo of the humility, humanity and faith that characterized the personality and life of Albino Luciani.”


The exhibits that up to now have been housed in the rectory in Canale D’Agordo have been moved into the city’s old town hall next to the parish church. They also include an evocation of local history that gives background to the Pope’s life.

At the same time, some of the major players conducting Luciani’s cause for canonization are giving assurance that the process is advancing. Stefania Falasca, the vice-postulator of the cause, notes that the Positio or dossier which certifies among other things, the Christian virtues professed by Luciani, printed in 5 volumes and 3,600 pages, is about to be examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The material they contain, she says, reveals his personality and life’s work, which deserve to be rediscovered and returned to their dignity.

The Positio will be examined by two committees, one made up of theologians and the other of bishops and cardinals. If the outcome is positive, Pope Francis will conclude this part of the process with the proclamation that Luciani practiced Christian virtue to a heroic degree and will name him Venerable. Then the Congregation will examine the evidence for a miracle worked through the intercession of the late Pope. Recently news has come of a miraculous healing in Latin America, about which an absolute reserve is being maintained, but which may turn out to be the one submitted to the Congregation.

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, who heads the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, grew up in the diocese of Vittorio Veneto and attended the seminary while Luciani was bishop there. He recently took over the job of postulator of the cause for his beatification. “I believe in the sanctity of the Christian life of John Paul I, a sanctity that is lived in humility and daily self-giving to the Church and one’s neighbor in need, inspired by the theological virtues, practiced with interior fervor, and where the cross and sacrifice, and sometimes humiliation contribute to making the disciple of Jesus closer to his Lord,” said Stella. He invited people to pray that the miracle might be recognized on examination by the Vatican authorities. Some newspapers speculated that the process might be finished by 2018, which will mark the 40th anniversary of John Paul I’s election and his death. But Cardinal Parolin is cautious. "I am not the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints,” he said, “so I cannot say anything. The hope is that we will go forward with a certain speed and that we should pray for the miracle."

Reporting from Il Corriere delle Alpi, of July 7, August 24, and August 26, 2016.

Papa Luciani in Pope Francis’ New Book

Dear friends of Pope John Paul I: I have some good news this month. We have continued to receive donations, and have received enough to have the transcriptions of the two conference talks done, with some left over. I’ll write more about our future plans later, but right now I’d like to urge you to read Pope Francis’s book-length interview with Andrea Tornielli, The Name of God is Mercy, which just came out last month, near the beginning of the Year of Mercy. It’s a wonderful book. There are many wonderful surprises in the interview (and I haven’t even finished … Continue reading →

The Positio Has Been Completed With the Testimony of Benedict XVI

by Romina Gobbo Now as then. On June 8, 2003, an ovation in the church in Canale Agordo greeted the news, given by the then bishop of Belluno-Feltre, Vincenzo Savio, that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had given a positive judgment on beginning the canonical process on the sainthood of their fellow-villager Albino Luciani, who had ascended to the papal throne on August 26, 1978 with the name John Paul I, and who therefore from that moment on would be considered “Servant of God.” (The official opening of the process took place the following November 23 in the … Continue reading →

New Revelations About Pope John Paul I in Soon-to-Be Published Work

Bronx, NY, December 1, 2015  – ​ Pope John Paul I is often thought of as the “unknown Pope.” His life and death have been reduced to fodder for conspiracy theorists. But new details about his life, soon to be published in the papers of a recent conference, seem set to change that. Among the revelations: A priest who was at the Vatican on the morning John Paul I’s body was found gives some unknown medical details on the possible cause of his death; the late Pope’s niece comments on his health and debunks the murder conspiracy theories; and an … Continue reading →

Pope John Paul I’s Positio Now Finished

by Lori Pieper Bishop Andrich of Belluno: “The Beatification Process is in its Final Phase.” Canale d’Agordo, August 26, 2015 The Positio on Papa Luciani has been finished. The announcement was made yesterday afternoon in the main square of Canale d’Agordo, at the beginning of memorial Mass for the 37th anniversary of Albino Luciani’s election as Pope. The Bishop of Belluno, Giuseppe Andrich, told the faithful that an important stage had been reached in the process, one that should lead to the beatification of Pope John Paul I. “To all of you who devotedly admire the personality of Albino Luciani … Continue reading →

A Setback but Also Hope for Pope John Paul I’s Cause

By Lori Pieper The cause for Pope John Paul I’s canonization seems to be at a standstill for now. One difficulty is that for the documentation to be completed, the remaining part of the Positio must be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Positio contains the testimonies on a person’s virtues, a biography and a summary of the case for the person’s canonization, including pros and cons. The first part of John Paul I’s Positio was submitted in October 2012, and work is continuing on the second part. A greater difficulty is that the miracle submitted … Continue reading →

Documentary on John Paul I Airs July 4 in Italy

Thirty-three days of pontificate that helped change the Church. Who was Albino Luciani? What were the challenges he had begun to address? What signs and what legacy did he leave? Answers are attempted in the documentary “Giovanni Paolo I” by Antonia Pillosio on “Italians,” the program with Paolo Mieli, airing Saturday, July 4 at 23.30 [11:30 p.m.] on RAI 1. The story was put together from materials in the collection of Rai, on the basis of a biographical outline suggested by Vatican correspondent Andrea Tornielli. It includes pictures, photographs and film clips from the archive of the Diocese of Vittorio Veneto, the Centro … Continue reading →

Mother Teresa O.C.D. (1927-2015)

Mother Teresa O.C.D., the author of the biography of Pope John I, The Smiling Pope, peacefully passed to the Lord on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Protector of the Carmelite Order. She had been a Carmelite for 67 years. I had the privilege of meeting her in person, and correspoding with her for many years. She was hugely devoted to Papa Luciani. May she rest in peace and joy with the Lord. … Continue reading →


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