Letter: John Paul I Expected to Return to Venice Before He Was Elected Pope

He wrote from Rome Aug. 24, 1978, to retired Bishop Giuseppe Carraro.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, then patriarch of Venice, visits with a fellow cardinal. He will be beatified Sept. 4.
Cardinal Albino Luciani, then patriarch of Venice, visits with a fellow cardinal. He will be beatified Sept. 4. (photo: John Paul I Vatican Foundation / via CNA)

A letter written on the eve of the conclave that elected him bishop of Rome shows that Cardinal Albino Luciani expected to return to Venice as its patriarch.

“Fortunately, I am absolutely out of danger,” he wrote from Rome Aug. 24, 1978, to Bishop Giuseppe Carraro, who had recently retired as bishop of Verona.

“As soon as possible I will come to see you,” Luciani, who was elected pope on Aug. 26, added.

Cardinal Luciani took the name John Paul I. He will be beatified Sept. 4.

In his letter to Bishop Carraro, who had been his suffragan and is a “Venerable,” Cardinal Luciani wrote of the “journalistic inferences and deductions” regarding the conclave’s outcome, but added that he would maintain the required secrecy surrounding it.

He mentioned his “serious commitment more than ever to pray and work for the Church” and to pray “for him who the cardinals will elect to succeed the late Paul VI,” noting that he would “have an even more difficult task” than did Pope Paul VI.

The letter was given by the “Venerable” bishop to Father Guido Todeschini, founder of Telepace, a Catholic broadcasting network based in the province of Verona. Father Todeschini presented the document on a program of the network Sept. 2.

Father Todeschini plans to give it in turn to the John Paul I Vatican Foundation.

John Paul I reigned for 33 days, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 28, 1978.

He was born in Italy’s Belluno province in 1912 and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Belluno e Feltre in 1935, at age 22.

In 1958, he was consecrated a bishop and appointed bishop of Vittorio Veneto. He was appointed patriarch of Venice in 1969 and made a cardinal in 1973.

A ‘Hobbit house’ is seen in Hobbiton, New Zealand

Joe Pearce on Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week (Sept. 23)

In the month of September, we mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, J.R.R. Tolkien, and we celebrate this week both Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week. This week on Register Radio we talk to author and Tolkien expert Joseph Pearce about the legacy of the devoutly Catholic scholar and his masterwork, ‘The Lord of the Rings.’