Quite an interesting story is connected to this holy card and relic of Albino Luciani who became Pope John Paul I, reigning for only thirty-three days in 1978.
The portion of this black cassock, attached to the holy card featured here, is a significant second class relic belonging to Albino Luciani, the Cardinal Archbishop of Venice. It is a tiny piece of the one he was wearing as he left Venice to attend the conclave that elected him on August 26, 1978.
After his death, the Vatican contacted the pope’s family asking for a portion of the cassock to be distributed as relics. This relic is from the portion given to the Vatican by the pope’s family.
However, Father Richard Kunst formed a great bond with the pope’s family and he also received a portion of this cassock from them, which is the other artifact featured here.
Father Kunst received that item from John Paul’s niece, Pia Luciani, with whom he has maintained contact since visiting her in 2001. She was happy to send him a large portion of this cassock, which had already been cut up for relics upon request from the Vatican.
Since he is soon to be beatified the cassock assumes even greater historical significance.
The Collection has many items connected to Pope John Paul I because of the bond Father Kunst formed with his family. Please visit Papal Artifacts/John Paul I to view all of them:
Albino Luciani was born in Belluno, Italy October 17th, 1912. He was the oldest of four children whose mother was a very devout Catholic and whose father was a socialist.
In 1923, at the age of eleven, he entered the seminary, a lively child who was later denied entry to the Jesuit seminary.
Luciani was ordained a priest in 1935 at the age of twenty-three. Later he was a professor and the vice-rector of the Belluno seminary. He taught theology, canon law and sacred art and eventually earned a doctorate in theology as well.
In 1958, Luciani became the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto, receiving his consecration from Pope John XXIII himself. As a result, he attended all sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
In 1973 Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal.
Albino Luciani was elected pope in August of 1978, taking the name John Paul I. He is the first pope to use a double name and he gave the faithful gathered to hear him the following explanation.
I do not have the sapientia cordis (the ‘great heart’) of Pope John, nor the education and experience of Pope Paul, but I am in their position and I must try to serve the Church. I hope you will help me by your prayers.
Another first from him was to choose an investiture to commence his papacy rather than a traditional papal coronation. He also used the singular form, “I”, when speaking as the pope, rather than the traditional, royal “we”. This language distinction was indicative of his intention to have a different style.
Unlike his predecessors he did not hold diplomatic roles or Curial roles in the Church. As a result, there was some question that he was an intellectual ‘lightweight” despite his doctoral degree, his reputation both as a bishop and as a cardinal, and his publications.
However, immediately upon his election, he touched the hearts of the faithful with his personal impact. It has been said of him that the people and the media fell under his spell and were captivated by his warmth.
About John Paul, Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, He has been the greatest gift of God, a sun ray of God’s love shining in the darkness of the world.
It isn’t a surprise that John Paul, reigning for only thirty-three days, among the shortest reigns in papal history, is remembered in Italy as Il Sorriso di Dio: God’s Smile. He died on this date in 1978.
Father Richard Kunst formed a special bond with his family and received many items belonging to John Paul I, one of his favorite popes. Requiescat in Pace, Beloved John Paul I.