One step away from sainthood: ‘Smiling’ John Paul I beatified by Pope Francis


Pope Francis beatified John Paul I in St Peter’s Square on Sunday with thousands of people present in the audience.

Also known as the “Smiling Pope” because of his humility and simplicity, John Paul died in 1978 after only 33 days as pontiff amid lingering conspiracy theories that he was a victim of foul play.

Beatification, that is the last step before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church, is a process when a person becomes “blessed”.

Speaking as people huddled under umbrellas in a thunderstorm, Francis said “With a smile, Pope John Paul managed to communicate the goodness of the Lord.”

Also read | Pope Francis laments Church’s cooperation in ‘cultural destruction’

Born in 1912 as the son of a bricklayer from the Dolomite mountains, John Paul’s death sparked intense speculation as to the cause.

The swirling rumours can be explained by the sudden nature of his death and the “calamitous communication” by the Vatican at the time, according to biographer Christophe Henning.

While the Vatican issued conflicting and false information about what happened, no autopsy was conducted to determine the cause of death.

The Vatican said his secretary found him as it did not want to acknowledge the presence of a woman in his bedroom.

After a local priest prayed to the late pontiff, the miracle of the sudden healing of a gravely ill 11-year-old girl in Buenos Aires was attributed to John Paul I.

(With inputs from agencies)

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