Papacy - A Historical Perspective
John Paul I
230. Born in Forni di Canale (Belluno)..
Elected August 26, 1978 -
died September 28, 1978.
Pope Luciani was the first Pope in
history to name
himself with a double name.
On his very first Urbi et Orbi blessing from the balcony of St.
Peter's, in a brief message he explained that the two names referred to
his two predecessors to whom he felt very obliged.
He refused to use the gestatorial
chair, the Tiara and did not
want to be crowned.
He died of heart failure while reading
in bed. The announcement of
his death to the world said: "This morning , September 29, 1978, the
Pope's private secretary, as he usually did, went to look for him in
his private chapel, since the Pope was not there the secretary went to
his room and found him dead in bed, with the lights still on, as if he
His pontificate was very brief: only 33
days. He is remembered as
the smiling Pope. He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes.
John Paul II
264. Born in at Wodivici in Poland.
Elected October 16, 1978 -
died April 1st, 2005 [Officially
on April 2nd]
He is the first Pontiff of Polish
origin and the first
non-Italian Pope after 455 years, since Hadrian VI.
Theologian, writer and poet, he is a
Pope with an itinerant
apostolate. Including his historic visit to Cuba, he has traveled
internationally visiting 100 countries, including those without a
He has been invited twice, February 3,
1979 and April 10, 1995, to
give a speech at the UN. He has spoken to the Seats of major World
Institutions, i.e. UNESCO, FAO and the European Parliament.
In 1979, he went to Constantinople to
meet with the Orthodox
Patriarch Demetrio I.
After a millennial separation, he
reconciled with the Jewish
community, on April 13, 1986, with a visit to Rome's Synagogue when
he prayed with the "older brothers" and embraced the Rabbi.
On January 1, 1986, he went to Assisi
to pray for peace together
with the representatives of different religious doctrines from around
There was an attempt on his life during
a general audience in St.
Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.
He has written 11 Encyclicals; the last
one, "Evangelium Vitae",
written in 1995, defends life, speaking out against abortion,
euthanasia and the death penalty.
On October 11, 1992, after long
consultation and labor with the
world episcopacy, he signed the New Catechism of the Catholic Church,
later translated into every language.
He has nominated dozens of cardinals
and, in view of the third
millennium, has summoned numerous bishop synods.
He acted as a leader in events that
have changed the world, i.e.
on December 1, 1989, he received Mikhail Gorbachev, President of USSR.
He also refused be crowned with a
tiara; the tiara was used
for the last time with Pope Paul VI.
Pope John Paul II has officially
announced the celebration of the
Jubilee for the year 2000 with his apostolic letter "Tertio Millenio
adveniente", dated November 24, 1994.
During a trip to Cuba in 1998, he met
with Fidel Castro . For
the first time in history, the Papal Bull dated January, 29 1998
Proclaimed that the Holy Year for the year 2000 would be celebrated
contemporaneously in Rome as well as in the Holy Land, and in local
churches. The Doors at St. Peter's will be opened during midnight
mass on December 24, 1999 and the Jubilee will end on January 6, 200l.
Including his trip to Mexico City on
January 22, 1999, the
Pope is estimated to have traveled a total of 100 000 kilometres during
85 international tours, the equivalent of having traveled 28 times
around the world.
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