Pope John Paul I - The Smiling Pope...

Albino Luciani who became Pope John Paul I


Son of Giovanni Luciani and Bortola Tancon, poor working people; he was baptized the same day at home by the midwife as he was in danger of death. He entered the seminary at Feltre in October 1923, and the Gregorian seminary at Belluno in October 1928. He was made Deacon on 2 February 1935. He was ordained at Belluno, Italy on 7 July 1935. He was Parish priest and taught religion at the Technical Institute for Miners in Agordo. He became the Rector of the Gregorian seminary from 1937 to 1947 and received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome in 1947. Chancellor of the diocese of Belluno in 1947.  He became Bishop of Vittorio Veneto on 15 December 1958. Attended the Second Vatican Council. Patriarch of Venice in 1969. Created Cardinal on 5 March 1973. On 26th August 1978 Luciani was elected Pope but died just 33 days later on 28th September 1978. 
He had a beautiful smile which he will always be remembered for and was known as the smiling Pope.  He also had an incredible trust and childlike love of Jesus and Mary... 
As bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1960, Luciani gave a talk, which he gave to the clergy of his diocese on “priestly humility” using Psalm 131 as his guide, and going through it line by line. Here too he stressed the maternal imagery in the psalm:

Sicut parvulus in gremio matris suae;
sicut parvulus, ita in me est anima mea (v. 2)

Like a little child in its mother’s arms;
Like a little child, so is my soul within me.

I liked better the old version (7) of this short verse, which in place of parvulus [little child] had ablactatus [weaned child] (8) and it gave me the image of a baby who is quiet and content resting on its mother’s breast, without asking any longer with tears and screams for its mother’s milk. Parvulus in this way is the priest who abandons himself and entrusts himself to God, with a spirit of simplicity and infancy. And if it seems to you that the approach is not worthy of us, teachers in Israel, I recall to you rather, that the “nisi eficiamini sicut parvuli” (unless you become like little children) was said precisely to the apostles and at the very moment they were debating problems of precedence and were asking “quis putas, maior est in regno coelorum? [Who, do you think, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?] (Mt 18:1-4). It was then that the Lord called a child and placed it in the midst of them, saying, “In this way must you be little children!” (9)

In a piece he wrote as Patriarch of Venice for the feast of the Holy Rosary in October 1973, he wrote:

When people talk about “adult Christians” in prayer, sometimes they exaggerate. Personally, when I speak alone with God and Our Lady, I prefer to feel like a child rather than an adult. The miter, the skullcap and the ring disappear; I send the adult on vacation and the bishop too, along with the staid, serious and dignified behavior that go along with them, in order to abandon myself to the spontaneous tenderness that a child has for Mama and Papa. To be, at least for half an hour or so, as I am in reality, with my misery and the best of myself, to feel surfacing from the depths of my being the child I once was, a child who wants to laugh, chatter and to love the Lord, and who sometimes feels the need to weep so that mercy may be shown him, helps me to pray. (11)

In 1975, from a talk that Luciani evidently gave in Rio Grande do Sul Brazil, during his trip to visit the Italian immigrants there. This is only an excerpt without the context, but it gives a very vivid picture:

We are the object of an undying love on God’s part. We know: he always has his eye on us, even when it seems to us that it is night. He is a Papa, even more a mother. He does not want to harm us; he only wants to do good to us, to everyone.

Little children, when they happen to be sick, have one more reason to be loved by their mothers. And we too, if we happen to be sick with wickedness, if we have gone astray, we have one more reason to be loved by the Lord.

Isaiah says that God has our name written on the palm of His hand. (Is. 49:16) And that means that if God perchance has a table up in heaven, on that table our photograph will be prominently displayed.

We are always present to the Heart of God.

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