(Courtesy of Wikipedia.org)
It seems to be a week of anniversaries, as I will explain in the next two or three postings.
Particually is this is a year when a Pope died and a new one was elected, I suppose it is worth pointing out that it was twenty-seven years ago today that Pope John Paul I was found dead in his bed, after having reigned as Pope for just thirty-three days.
He died of a massive heart attack at around 11PM the night before, although some conspiracy theorists believe he was murdered to prevent him initiating widespread reforms.
What seems to be more likely though, is author
John Cornwell's assertion, following an investigation, that he died of a 'pulmonary embolism' (a particular form of heart failure), and had severe circulatory and other health problems that few knew about when he was elected Pope. He was overwhemled with work, having had little administrative experience, and this added to the depression he was plunged into when elected Pope, feeling that he was unworthy of the post.
Not a good cocktail for a man in his sixties who had an embolism two years before and who took medication for low blood pressue.
In any case, he was a gentle and unassuming man and very popular in the month he was Pope. He was the first to refuse a papal coronation in favour of a simple inaugural service, and was liked for his ready smiles and warm personality. He had also written a popular book when Patriarch of Venice, Illustrissimi, where he wrote letters to famous people in history, as well as fictional characters as diverse as Don Quixote to Pinnochio (I have a copy myself and it is definetly worth a read).
In short, he showed in the short time he was Pope, how important it was for the Papacy to have a keen sense of pastoral humility. Something that his successor, John Paul II, had a degree of. One hopes that Benedict XVI will show more of his human face in the course of his reign.