Italy's 'smiling pope' inches closer to sainthood

Nov 10, 2017 623

Pope John Paul I, who served for just 33 days as Pontiff in 1978 before his abrupt death, has moved a step closer to sainthood, the Vatican said on Thursday. Known as the “smiling Pope” because of his good nature, Albino Luciani’s reign as head of the Catholic Church was the shortest in modern times and his shock demise fueled press speculation that he might have been murdered. The Vatican has always denied the rumors, saying he died of a heart attack.

As a first step to placing him among the Church’s swelling ranks of saints, the Vatican said Pope Francis had backed a vote by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to recognize the “heroic virtues” of Pope John Paul I. This means John Paul I, the last Italian to be made pontiff, can now move on toward beatification, the final step before sainthood. Beatification would require a miracle attributed to his intercession.

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