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Rome Reports

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A look back: 37 years ago, John Paul I was elected Pope

On August 26, 1978 Albino Luciani was elected Pope. Overlooking St. Peter's Square, John Paul I gave his first blessing.  He decided to honor his predecessors by combining their names. From John XXIII he took the name John and from Paul VI, the name Paul.   

He said it was a way to show his appreciation, since he was made a Bishop by John XXIII and a Cardinal by Paul VI.   

He is remembered as the smiling Pope. Also as a gifted writer and communicator.   

JOHN PAUL I
"I answered, could it be? I find it strange that a blind woman could lead me. She grabbed me by the hand and quietly said:Walk!  It was faith!"

But his papacy was quite limited. After only 33 days as the head of the Catholic Church, John Paul I died suddenly at the age of 65. It's marked as the shortest papacy in modern history.   

Even so, he managed to set new traditions. He was the first Pope to not use the papal crown, even though it had been done for centuries. He was also opposed to the so called 'Sedia Gestatoria' where Popes were carried up high. It's said that he was opposed, but his team said it was the only way the crowds in St. Peter's Square could catch a glimpse of him.   

That opposition though, echoed into the next papacy. John Paul I was the last Pope to use the chair.  After him the Popemobile was used.   

He passed away on September 28th, 1978. Years later, on November 23, 2003, John Paul II declared him a Servant of God, which is the first step on the road to sainthood.