Pope Francis beatified his predecessor in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square, before thousands of people. Beatification is the final step in the process of becoming a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
John Paul was called “The Smiling Pontiff” due to his simplicity and meekness.
“With a smile Pope John Paul managed the communication of the goodness of God,” Francis stated in his homily. He spoke as people were huddled under umbrellas during a storm.
“How beautiful is it to see a Church that smiles, laughs, and never shuts its doors. It doesn’t get angry, resentful, or irritates, and doesn’t look back at the past.
Albino Luciani was born into poverty in a northern Italian mountain town in 1912. He was ordained as a priest in 1935 and a bishop in 1958.
After the death of Pope Paul VI on August 26, 1978, he was elected pope. He took the name John Paul in honour of his two immediate predecessors.
Two nuns from the papal household, who knocked on his door at 5.20 am on Sept. 29, to bring him coffee, found him dead in bed. Doctors declared him dead from a heart attack. Aides claimed he had suffered chest pains the previous day but didn’t take them seriously.
Although the Vatican made amends, conspiracy theories arose from the mistakes.
The 1984 book In God’s name – An Investigation into Pope John Paul I by David Yallop, a British author who argued that the pope was poisoned in a conspiracy linked to a secret Masonic lodge spent 15 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.
The New York Times‘ own review of the book ridiculed Yallop’s investigative methods. In 1987, John Cornwell wrote A Thief in the Night, which meticulously dismantles conspiracy theories.
Although widely disproven, the idea that a pope was murdered in his bedroom during the 20th century is still popular. In the movie The Godfather Part III, a pope named John Paul II was poisoned with tea.
When asked by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin about conspiracy theories broadcast on Italian television, he replied that there was no truth to them.
“It’s a shame that this story continues, this noir novel. It was a natural loss. Parolin stated that there is no mystery surrounding it.
Stefania Falasca was an Italian journalist and author who spent 10 years documenting John Paul’s life and looking at his medical history. She also wrote several books about him. She called conspiracy theories “publicity driven garbage”.
Falasca, the vice postulator or promoter of the sainthood cause was adamant that he was being beatified not for what he did as pope, but because of how he lived his own life.
John Paul is credited with miraculous healing of an 11 year old Argentine girl who suffered from severe brain inflammation, epilepsy, and septic shock. Her parents prayed for him.
Roman Catholicism teaches that miracles are performed only by God. However, saints who are believed to be with God and in heaven intercede for those who pray to them.
John Paul will have to have a second miracle proven in order to be made a saint.