Roman Catholic Pope. The first Pope to bear two names and, the first modern Pope to speak in addresses in the singular form, using "I" instead of "We". He came from a poor family and, was educated in the minor and major seminaries of the diocese of Belluno and ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on July 7, 1935. Later he received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He served as his diocese's seminary Vice-Rector from 1937 to 1947, also teaching students in the areas of dogmatic and moral theology, canon law and sacred art. In 1948 he was named pro-Vicar-General, in 1958 Vicar-General of that diocese, before being made Bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1958 by Pope John XXIII. In 1969 he was appointed Patriarch of Venice by Pope Paul VI, who also raised him to the Cardinalate on in 1973. After Luciani's election, the mood appears to have been one of widespread optimism and John Paul I established himself by taking the names of his two predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI to represent a combination of their qualities: one progressive, the other traditional. He quickly captured the media's support with an unplanned press conference, but this hopeful mood ended with his sudden death, 34 days after his election, making his the shortest pontificate since Leo XI's in the April of 1605. The Vatican raised major issues over the handling of the events surrounding his death. Most dramatically of all, the Pope's body was embalmed within one day of his death, breaking Italian law (however the Vatican is not part of Italy and so is not bound by Italian law). Wild rumors spread about events surrounding his death: how the death of a visiting prelate during an audience with the pope some days earlier was because the prelate had drunk 'poisoned coffee' prepared for the pope; yes a death had occurred, but there was no evidence of poison. The sudden embalming raised suspicions that it had been done to prevent a post-mortem. However, the Vatican insisted that a papal post-mortem was prohibited under Vatican law. This too was later revealed to be incorrect: in 1830 a post-mortem was carried out on the remains of Pope Pius VIII. It produced evidence that suggested Pius VIII may have been poisoned. However, it is possible that Pope John Paul I died naturally, or as a result of an accidental overdose of medicine he took for low blood-pressure, or as British historian and journalist John Cornwell suggested, of pulmonary embolism (which was consistent with his past medical history, including a retinal embolism in 1976).
Bio by: MC