Monday, 28 September 2020

john paul i

Though only reigning for a brief thirty-three days, dying on this day in 1978 (*1935)—touching off the first year of three popes since 1605, the pontiff with the birth name Albino Luciani was responsible for quite a number of firsts and lasts. No pope before him had been born in the twentieth century and his passing marked the end of a series of Italian-born popes that extended back to Clement VII’s election in 1523.

Refusing a coronation, John Paul was the first pope to be inaugurated, in an effort to humanise the office, and only accepted the pallium accorded to Rome’s bishop and put to an end the practises of using the sedia gestatoria—the ceremonial throne used for processions and carried on the shoulders of twelve men, replaced later by the popemobile—and referring to himself in the third person, the royal we, though traditionalists in the curia often edited it back into his speeches. The first to take a double-name, in honour of his two immediate predecessors, John Paul was also the first to use the ordinal number Primo. Pope Francis also has a unique papal name but does not use a numeral. Aside from this trivia, the bride-builder also reached out to the Islamic communities of Rome and Venice and helped them secure the right to build mosques. John Paul II of course took the name as success in memory of his short reign and sudden death upon his election by the conclave on 14 October.