Recognizing Miracle, Pope Clears Way for Beatification of John Paul I

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Pope Francis has signed a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul I, clearing the way for his beatification.

The Italian pope served only 33 days as pontiff; he died in the papal apartments Sept. 28, 1978, at the age of 65, shocking the world and a Church that had just mourned the death of St. Paul VI.

The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision along with a number of other sainthood decrees Oct. 13.

In the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul I, the approved miracle involved a young girl in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who developed a severe case of acute encephalitis and uncontrollable and life-threatening brain seizures, and eventually entered septic shock.

After doctors told family members her death was “imminent,” the local priest encouraged the family, nurses and others to pray to the late pope for his intercession, according to the website of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. A panel of experts studying the cause determined there was no scientific explanation for her complete recovery in 2011 and that it could be attributed to the late pope’s intercession.

The Vatican did not immediately announce a date for the beatification ceremony.

Although his was one of the shortest papacies in history, Pope John Paul left a lasting impression on the Church that fondly remembers him as “the smiling pope.”

His papal motto, “Humilitas” (“Humility”) not only emphasized a Christian virtue but also reflected his down-to-earth personality and humble beginnings.

Born Albino Luciani in the small Italian mountain town of Canale D’Agordo Oct. 17, 1912, the future pope and his two brothers and one sister lived in poverty and sometimes went to bed hungry.

—CNS