NOTE: On September 4, 2022, Pope John Paul I was beatified!
It was with great joy we celebrated the November 9th announcement from Pope Francis to declare Pope John Paul I, Venerable, It marked the first major step toward sainthood for the pope who died in 1978 at the age of 65, shocking the world and a church that had just mourned the death of (now) Pope St. Paul VI.
For the Papal Artifacts’ Collection, this joyous occasion was marked by the arrival of his zucchetto and pectoral cross, both of which we are featuring today.
Pope Francis spoke of his predecessor in his 2016 book The Name of God Is Mercy in which Francis recalls how touched he was by his predecessor’s writings. More than any of his predecessors mentioned in his book, Francis refers to Luciani the most. The pope referred to Luciani’s remarks at the latter’s general audience of 6 September 1978 and mentioned how profound that his words were upon him; of the remarks Luciani made, he said,
There is the homily when Albino Luciani said he had been chosen because the Lord preferred that certain things not be engraved in bronze or marble but in the dust, so that if the writing had remained, it would have been clear that the merit was only God’s.
This is the General Audience of Sept. 6, 1978, to which Pope Francis refers:
About This Zucchetto
It is nearly impossible to convey the joy enveloping the Catholic community as we anticipate the beatification of one of the most holy pontiffs of the 20th century: Il Soriso di dio–the Sunray of God’s Love. Although his pontificate lasted a mere 33 days, his life and dedication to our Church lasted his life time. This zucchetto is one of the most treasured items in the Collection. It was worn within months of his election.
With this acquisition the Collection now has a zucchetto from every Pope since Blessed Pope Pius IX.
Albino Luciani was created cardinal on March 5, 1973, by Pope Paul VI, now Saint Pope Paul VI.
In 2001 Father Kunst and his father went to northern Italy, to an area called Belluno, where Pope John Paul I lived. They visited his family, in particular his niece, Pia Luciani, and his brother Eduardo, and his sister-in-law. They spent the day with them visiting the home where the Pope was born. They were very hospitable and generous people who were happy to show Father Kunst the areas of Pope John Paul’s childhood.
It is because of this relationship that this Collection contains the personal items belonging to or associated with this pontiff.
The Pectoral Cross
The artifact is a pectoral cross belonging to the future Pope John Paul I. It contains a relic of Saint Francis de Sales in it.
Albino Luciani was consecrated Bishop by Pope John XXIII on December 27, 1958.
The pectoral cross is a valued item in the Collection.