I have always had a special affection for Pope John Paul the First (Papa Luciani, as most called him). As you recall, he was pope for only 33 days in 1978. I was able to see his election, watching from Piazza di San Pietro that afternoon, listened to him give his first message that day –and thinking what a high-pitched voice he had— then much to my surprise I was selected from so many other international students to serve at his installation Mass as cross bearer. I was able to approach him closely and remember well his smile. When he died, I rushed back from Germany where I had been working to attend his funeral.
I believe the man is a saint. I only wish we would have been able to see what an extended pontificate of John Paul I would have been like.
I find myself thinking of him today for some reason. A little over thirty years has passed since his untimely death.
I would encourage all of you to log on to www.albino-luciani.com. A wonderful website with lots of information and links about Papa Luciani.
By the way, he may be declared “blessed” in the near future. Perhaps a saint in my lifetime. If that happens, I hope to be present at St. Peter’s for that Mass!