The 33-Day Pope

In 1978, a gentleman born with the name Albino Luciani died after serving just 33 days in which role?

And the answer is: Pope.

Born Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I was head of the Catholic Church for just 33 days in 1978. He was the first pope to have been born in the 20th century and his reign is among the shortest in papal history.

The story of John Paul I is fascinating, and not just because he was the first pope in history to have two names. John Paul I was known as the "Smiling Pope"– his reputation reported a generous, warm, and down-to-earth man who left piety behind. He pioneered the simplification of the papacy by dropping the royal "we" and declining other formalized, luxurious rituals. In many ways, his papacy is for Catholics what the Kennedy administration has always been for Americans, an enduring question of "What could have been?"

In addition to a joyous facade, Pope John Paul I entered his religious service with wholesome ideals of giving and support. When he was appointed a Bishop in 1959, his episcopal motto was Humilitas (Humility). He went on to propose at a 1971 Synod of Bishops (to which he was personally invited by his processing Pope) that dioceses in industrialized countries should relinquish 1% of their funds "not as alms, but something that is owed." He went on to claim:

[Payment is] owed to compensate for the injustices that our consumer-oriented world is committing towards the 'world on the way to development' and to in some way make reparation for social sin, of which we must become aware.

In this regard, John Paul I's ideals of giving were ahead of his time. Check out this video to learn more about his life and short-lived papacy:

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