Today is the feast of Pope St. John Paul II! On this day in 1978, October 22, his papacy of almost 27 years began and the world was forever changed. 1978 – the Year of Three Popes – Paul VI, John Paul (the Roman numeral I was added to his name only after John Paul II chose that name). The former Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, whom many today call St. John Paul the Great, had been elected 6 days earlier following the premature death of his predecessor, John Paul I, after 33 days of papacy. Saint John Paul II | Franciscan Media

Vatican Youtube Oct 22, 1978 – 22 October 1978: the Pontificate of John Paul II begins – YouTube


This week, in the interview segment of Vatican Insider, I bring you a fascinating conversation I had with Alvaro Pereira and Fr. Robert White as they tell us more about the amazing program they work for and with, Food for the Poor – how and when it was founded, how FFTP works to help the poor, not just through providing food but through building homes, teaching people how to earn a living and much more!   Some astonishing numbers will leave you speechless. The more you hear, the more you’ll want to become involved!

Full disclosure for a personal moment: I was living in California from 1986 to 1990 and first met Fr. Bob in the mid-1980s when, as a San Diego priest, he was named pastor of a new parish, St. Thomas More in Vista, California. There was no church but there were a lot of Catholics, including my parents and I, who were anxious for this new church to be a reality. Sunday Mass for years was celebrated in the chapel of neighboring Oceanside’s Eternal Hills mortuary. When the parish hall and multi-purpose rooms were built, Mass was held in the auditorium.

Dinner at La Vittoria!

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Weekday Masses on Tuesdays and Thursdays were held for several years in parishioners’ homes. We usually stayed a bit after Mass when, fortified by coffee and sweets and often wonderful home-grown fruit, we would talk about building the church, how to raise funds and who in the parish was sick and needed our help and prayers. It was an extraordinarily special time for all of us and made us feel like the first Christians did when there were no formal churches and people met in the homes of wealthier Christians.

Fr. Bob and I recently had a reunion in Rome when he and Alvaro, representing Food for the Poor, were attending a Vatican conference. This was the first time we’d seen each other since 1993!


IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. 10 . 21 . 21

(First Things) Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century saint and Doctor of the Church who renewed the Western monastic tradition, once warned that “The most grievous danger for any pope lies in the fact that, encompassed as he is by flatterers, he never hears the truth about his own person and ends by not wishing to hear it.”

Every pontificate has its courtiers. The current one is no exception; quite the opposite. Thus, St. Bernard’s words came easily to mind as I read a recent Austen Ivereigh article for America magazine. In it, Ivereigh claimed that “over the last eight years, a powerful U.S.-based media conglomerate has used its formidable wealth and power to turn a large portion of the people of God against Rome and its current occupant. And for good measure, against key reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

Frightening stuff; so where might this muscular wickedness spring from: Comcast? Facebook? George Soros’s Open Society Foundations? No. Today’s spirit of schism—Mr. Ivereigh describes it as “the diabolos, and calling it something else is just putting lipstick on a pig”—is the work of those iniquitous devils at . . . EWTN. Yes, that’s the network founded by that arch-troublemaker and woman religious, Mother Angelica, and funded largely by tens of thousands of small donations from ordinary, faithful Catholic individuals and families.

To be fair, Ivereigh’s article simply elaborates on comments that Pope Francis made recently to Jesuits in Slovakia. Pope Francis didn’t name the offending media organization, but as journalists quickly confirmed, he meant EWTN. It’s surprising to hear any pope be so publicly and personally sensitive to perceived ill will from a few commentators at a modest network (by secular standards) based on another continent. Conflict, a lot of it, both within and beyond the Church, comes with the job of every bishop. The bishop of Rome is not excused from that unhappy burden. And EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, whom Ivereigh seems to regard as a special tool of the diabolos, does not pose quite the same fearsome threat to the Church as, say, China’s Xi Jinping. Or significant figures in America’s current leadership.

Mr. Ivereigh is right to see mean-spirited ecclesial criticism from anyone as poisonous to the unity of the Church. But he might take his own words to heart in examining some of his own past work.  Moreover, not all criticism in a family is ill-intended or disloyal or inaccurate. Some anger, even anger at legitimate authority, is righteous. The virtue of Christian obedience is rooted in speaking the truth—with love, but frankly and firmly—and true religion has nothing to do with a posture of servility.

As an EWTN board member for many years before retiring, I’m well acquainted with the network’s shortcomings. It can always improve. But it has managed to serve the gospel for decades now with skill and endurance where many others have failed. Thus, it’s hard to read critics of the network without also sniffing their peculiar cologne of faux piety, jealousy, and resentment. EWTN’s achievements deserve praise and warrant pride. I admire the dedication of its leaders and staff. I’m grateful for the network’s service to the Word of God. And any suggestion that EWTN is unfaithful to the Church, the Second Vatican Council, or the Holy See is simply vindictive and false.

TO CONTINUE READING _ A Little Wisdom From Bernard | Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. | First Things


AN UPDATE ON PAOLO, POPE FRANCIS AND A ZUCCHETTO: In my report Wednesday on the 10-year old disabled boy who paid an impromptu visit to Pope Francis on the stage area of the Paul VI Hall at the general audience, I noted how very much he seemed to want a papal skull cap or zucchetto but saw no evidence that he actually received one. I had dinner that night with a priest friend from Chicago who was at the audience and he gave me an update. It seems that when the general audience catechesis was over, a “spare” zucchetto was found and given to Paolo who jumped for joy and happily wore it for the rest of the morning. It seems there is always a zucchetto or two on reserve so one was given to Paolo. Both Paolo and his mother later had a chance to speak to the Holy Father.

PAPAL LITURGIES FOR NOVEMBER – The Vatican today posted liturgies on the papal calendar for the month of November, While no mention was made of traditional activities for the Holy Father on the Vatican holy days and holidays of November 1, All Saints, and November 2, All Souls, the schedule included the following: Thursday November 4 St. Peter’s Basilica Altar of the Chair, Holy Mass for the deceased Cardinals and Bishops during the year; Friday, November 5, Mass at 10:30 at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome; Sunday, November 14, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, St. Peter’s Basilica, 10.00 Holy Mass,





I recently had a wonderful meal experience – an adventure, to be honest! – when a longtime California friend, Fr. Jeffrey Keyes paid his annual visit to Rome and asked if I would be free to have lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, Rifiugio San Gaspare!

This unique place is in Umbria, thus – full disclosure – the round trip car trip (car and driver) comprised 4 and a half hours of the 7-hour lunch!

It was the perfect October day – a delft-blue sky and Indian summer temperatures. Anytime one can leave a big city and drive through the countryside is a real treat, almost a retreat in away. The word “rifiugio” means refuge or shelter, and this rustic building high on a mountain-top indeed seemed a refuge!

There is only one menu and a fixed price but most luncheon guests already knew that and those who did not, ended up totally delighted, as I was. Every table in the main room was occupied the day we were there, as were several in an adjacent room.  The final cost is about $35 a person!

Angelo came to our table to greet us as he recognized Father Jeff from previous visits. He and his wife have run the restaurant for the last 50 years! The building is owned by the town of Giano and he pays rent for the premises.

The restaurant opens at 12:30. At that same moment, wood is burning briskly in the huge fireplace and, as it burns, creates piles and piles of embers that are used to bake the bread and cook the meat – including wonderful sausages! – before our very eyes.

The dough is placed on a surface in the fireplace, a metal lid about 2 inches deep is placed on top of the dough and burning embers are places on top of that lid and, in minutes, we have fresh bread or focaccia!

The sausages and other pieces of meat are placed on a grill over burning embers, and are constantly turned and checked for doneness.

The freshly made bread is brought to the tables as guests are served an antipasto of salami, prosciutto, olives and cheese, followed by a divine linguine with truffles (it was divine because tartufi or truffles can often have an overbearing flavor but here it was perfect and well-balanced), platters of mixed, grilled meats, a choice of vegetable or salad and a choice of desserts.

Water and wine are included in the price. When the staff sees an empty pitcher of wine (usually a half liter for two people and liter per four people), they refill it immediately!

Lunch that day was not just a treat, it was also part entertainment. I will long remember my 7-hour San Gaspare adventure!

Now, of course you want to know who is San Gaspare?

Known as San Gaspare del Bufalo, St. Gaspar Melchior Balthazar del Bufalo was the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, He was born on the feast of the Epiphany, the reason his parents named him after the Three Kings, His feast is October 21.

St. Gaspar was born and raised in Rome where he was ordained to the priesthood. In 1808. Along with other clergy who refused to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1809 after the deportation of Pope Pius VII, he was sent into exile to northern Italy and imprisoned for four years.

From the website of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood: “After Napoleon’s defeat, he returned to Rome in 1814 and threw himself into his preaching ministry. Through spreading the Good News of the Gospel, he believed he could help heal and revive a Church that had been sorely tried and tested.

“On August 15, 1815, St. Gaspar founded the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood (C.PP.S.) in Giano, Italy. It was a very small congregation, with only four members (including St. Gaspar). They began to preach in towns throughout central Italy. As they preached mission after mission, igniting the fire of faith in God’s people, they began to draw more members to their new Congregation.” Founder – Missionaries of the Precious Blood (

The spiritual center of the Missionaries is in the ancient abbey of San Felice in Giano, Umbria, not a long ride from the San Gaspare restaurant.

PS. Giano is 30 minutes by car from Spoleto, 45 from Perugia, 50 from Assisi and 70 from Orvieto.



At the general audience today in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, turning to what he termed “the freedom to which we have been called in Christ.”

The new life we received in baptism has made us sons and daughters of the Father and set us free from slavery to sin and death. Paul teaches that our freedom in Christ is not an opportunity for self-indulgence but a summons to be “servants of one another” (Gal 5:13) within the community of believers.

Paul tells us that only “through love” (ibid.), given in generous service to the poor, can our freedom in Christ grow and bear fruit. Jesus exemplified this life of selfless love at the Last Supper, when, on the eve of his saving passion and death, he washed the disciples’ feet, teaching us to do likewise. Christian freedom has an essentially social dimension.

“The effects of the current pandemic,” said the Holy Father, “invite us to overcome reductive individualistic ideas of freedom and to rediscover its deeper communitarian aspect. Through our witness to the liberating power of Christ’s grace, may we help others to see that authentic freedom is born of the love of God and finds its fulfilment in charity.”


At about the five-minute mark in the video of the audience, a 10-year old disabled boy Paoletto comes on the stage and talks to Pope Francis. He seems to want to stay on the stage so Msgr. Sapienza gives him his seat next to the Pope while an usher eventually brings out another chair for monsignor. Paoletto talks to Msgr. Sapienza and then to one of the monsignori giving the catechesis in translation. Paoletto clearly indicates he wants the papal zucchetto. (ANSA photo)

The camera then focusses on the monsignor speaking in Portuguese and when it again focuses on the Pope, we do not see Paoletto who had returned to his seat. The Vatican newspaper reported that the boy returned to his seat with a zucchetto but when tv cameras focus on the Pope he is clearly wearing one.

In addition, though not seen in the video, photographers captured this image of Paoletto and his mother speaking to the Pope.

Pope Francis made some off-the-cuff remarks about freedom after his encounter with Paoletto. “When this young man felt free to move about as if he was at home, what comes to my mind is what Jesus said about the freedom and spontaneity of children.”

He thanked Paoletto “for the lesson you gave us. May the Lord help him in his limitations and his growth because his gave this witness right from the heart.” Pope at Audience: Freedom is born in God’s love, grows in charity – Vatican News



A new and updated version of the Pope’s prayer app helps the faithful pray for a synodal Church.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

“Click To Pray” 2.0 is an updated digital proposal that can be downloaded on iOS and Android platforms. Launched by the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network,” the app offers users a variety of specific propositions to pray together with Pope Francis on a daily basis, and support the synodal process.

Launched on Tuesday in the Holy See Press Office by the Network itself, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the International Union of Superiors General, “Click To Pray” proposes new content for prayer and accompaniment of the synodal itinerary.

The International Director of the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Father Frederic Fornos, SJ, noted that as, Pope Francis says, “the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer”; and for this reason, “Click to Pray” intends to become a place of personal encounter with the Lord and to build a worldwide community of digital prayer.

Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, secretary of the Dicastery for Communication, added that one of the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that “the digital culture has much to offer,” also in its capacity “to reach and accompany men and women wherever they may be, including those who may find themselves in geographical and existential peripheries.” He stressed that the Pope’s social media platforms have increased enormously in followers in the past couple of years.

In her presentation, Bettina Raed, International Coordinator of Click To Pray, explained that users will now be able to organise their own personal prayer planner, configuring their moments of prayer for each day.

For those who are not familiar with the app, it features the option of receiving notifications and a wide choice of content for prayer at any moment of the day, in order to inspire people to commit fully to the intentions of the Pope and pray for the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church.

Available in seven languages, “Click To Pray” aims to provide a bridge between generations by promoting interaction among users by offering the chance to generate a shared community space, where each user can publish his or her intentions and share prayers throughout the entire network. It also includes a teaching tool for experiencing prayer at a more profound level.

“Click to Pray” has so far reached over 2.5 million users on all continents, allowing more than 400,000 users to pray together with Pope Francis for his prayer intentions.

As Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, has had occasion to point out, “The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network is at the service of the spiritual process, which invites us to be available for the encounter, listening from the heart and the discernment of the Holy Spirit.”

“Synodality,” he notes, “requires both personal and community conversion which originates in and is sustained by prayer. Our prayer, which springs from silence and contemplation, can be of immense help to the entire Church.”


On January 20, 2019, During the Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis unveiled his very own user profile in Click To Pray, the official app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, including its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement – EYM. Pope launches his Click to Pray app profile – Vatican News

ALSO: Click To Pray

ALSO: English The Church on the way ( and Spanish: La Iglesia en Camino (

Once you download the Apple or Android version of the app, you have to register and create an account.


This morning, the Prefecture of the Papal Household, through a note from the Holy See Press Office, announced that on Friday, November 5, 2021 at 10:30 am, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Rome campus of Sacred Heart Catholic University on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.


Pope Francis on Monday received a delegation from the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital of Rome, and told Catholic healthcare operators that, “every health care facility, especially those of Christian inspiration, should be a place where care for the person is practiced and where it can be said: ‘Here you see not only doctors and patients, but people who welcome and help each other: here you can experience the therapy of human dignity’.”

October 18 is the feast of St. Luke, patron saint of healthcare works and physicians.

( – Campus Bio-Medico was founded in 1993, inspired by Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, a Spanish bishop of the Opus Dei prelature.  The Pope noted that Blessed del Portillo had encouraged them to put the patient before the disease, which, he said, is essential in every field of medicine and is fundamental for a treatment that is truly comprehensive and human.

Science and research

Pope Francis also underscored the importance of science and research in medicine, saying “care without science is vain, just as science without care is sterile.”  Science and research together, he said, make medicine an art, that involves the head and heart, combining knowledge and compassion, professionalism and pity, competence and empathy.

The Pope thanked the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital delegation for favoring a humane development of research.  He lamented the temptation to profit over the needs of the sick and the elderly in healthcare – needs that are constantly evolving with new diseases and inconveniences.

Francis commended the Campus for helping those who do not have the financial means to meet university expenses.   He also mentioned its efforts including a Covid Center, the Emergency Room, and the Hospice.


The Holy Father emphasized that all these efforts must be done together, saying the pandemic has underscored the importance of connecting, collaborating and addressing common problems together.  Catholic healthcare particularly needs to network. “Charity requires a gift: knowledge must be shared, competence must be shared, science must be shared,” he said.

Tackling root causes

Offering science and its products alone, he warned, will remain just band-aids capable of plugging the evil but will not help cure it in depth.  This is true, for example, with vaccines, he said, adding, it is urgent to help countries that have less, but it must be done with farsighted plans and should not be motivated only by the haste of wealthy nations to be safer.  “Remedies must be distributed with dignity, not as pitiful handouts.”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital to continue on this path and be open to the inspirations and surprises of the Holy Spirit in its encounter with situations that require closeness and compassion.



In this week’s interview segment, I pay tribute to St. John Paul on his October 16 feast day by re-airing a conversation I had in Poland a couple of years ago with Fr. Jan Machniak, a Polish priest who is the author of Apostles of Divine Mercy and professor at Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow.

He shares wonderful stories of his interactions with Pope St. John Paul II!  Among other things he speaks of the meeting Mother Angelica had with Pope John Paul and his gift to her for the shrine. Father recounts the Pope’s words to Mother Angelica, words that have a powerful meaning for EWTN today. So stay tuned for that conversation!

This photo shows newly created Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, on the day he received the red hat from Pope Paul VI, June 26, 1967 (from @ChurchinPoland):

October 16, 1978: Cardinal Wojtyla elected to papacy, takes name of John Paul II:

One of my first meetings with St. John Paul – World Youth Day in Denver:

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization announced today that Pope Francis will mark the next World Day of the Poor in Assisi.

Now in its fifth edition, the World Day of the Poor was established by Pope Francis with the aim of raising awareness of listening to the cry of the poor and the suffering. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday, November 14. In preparation for that celebration which affects the whole Church, the Pope will visit Assisi on Friday, November 12, where, in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, he will privately meet a group of 500 poor people from different parts of Europe and will spend a moment listening to the and praying with them.


Great words from Pope Francis today to pharmacists, especially his clear, unequivocal words on abortion: “You know that I am very clear about this: it is murder and it is not licit to become its accomplice,” he stressed.


Pope Francis received in audience a delegation of the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and of the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities (SIFO), ahead of its national congress.

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Thursday urged pharmacists to watch out against the culture of waste and maintain ethical principles in their profession, reiterating that abortion is murder.

He made the exhortation to some 150 representatives of the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy and of the Pharmaceutical Services of Health Authorities (SIFO) as they kick off their 42nd national congress in Rome, October 14-17.  They are deliberating on the theme, “The pharmacist: promoter and interpreter of change, emergency, and planning.” (Vatican media)

The innkeeper of the Good Samaritan
He underscored the importance of the national public health system in ensuring the common good and social growth of a country, especially in the context of the pandemic, which is changing the organization and management of health and healthcare.

The Pope held out the figure of the innkeeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan, saying he reflects the daily routine and the hidden service of the hospital pharmacists. Requiring patience, constancy, and precision, amid little visibility, pharmacists can generate the “holiness of everyday life” by prayer and love.

Secondly, he added, the hospital pharmacist comes in immediate contact with patients; sometimes the pharmacy is invisible but makes everything work, ensuring the person is the recipient of care.

Conscientious objection
The third path, Pope Francis said, is the ethical dimension at the personal and social levels.  On the personal ethical level, he reminded hospital pharmacists, “You are always at the service of human life.” This, he said, “may involve conscientious objection, which is not disloyalty, but on the contrary fidelity to your profession, if validly motivated.”

Noting a trend to do away with conscientious objection, the Holy Father said it is an ethical principle and the ultimate responsibility of every health professional that cannot be negotiated.

Abortion – murder
Conscientious objection, the Pope continued, is also a denunciation of injustices against innocent and defenseless life.  In this regard, the Pontiff raised the issue of abortion.  “You know that I am very clear about this: it is murder and it is not licit to become its accomplice,” he stressed.   Rather, he said, it is our duty to be close to situations, especially to women, so that they don’t regard abortion as a solution, because in reality, it is not the solution.”

Culture of waste
On the social justice level, Pope Francis said that the pursuit of justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable.  As the Italian National Health Service seeks to provide universal access to healthcare, the management and financial criteria should not be the sole norms. “The culture of waste must not affect your profession,” he said. He deplored the fact that elderly men and women are given half their medicine requirements to shorten their lives, saying, this too is waste.

The management of resources must not be only an economic issue but also an ethical and human one.  Everyone is called upon to obey the “ethical protocol” in science and conscience, the Pope added.


I absolutely love today’s top news story! I was only in the presence of John Paul I at his inaugural Mass because several days later I left for three months to work at the New York Times’ Cairo office. I did not therefore follow his papacy because in those days there was no internet, no email, no online news as there was no online! The daily edition of the NYT appeared in Cairo and I could keep up with the news of his pontificate and could also read stories that appeared in other publications of other U.S. and international media as we were all housed in the same media center in Cairo.

I learned a great deal about John Paul I when I returned to Rome but one thing to know: he was not John Paul I at the time. He only became that after John Paul II was elected and took that double name and the Roman numeral II.

Pope Francis, for example is not Francis I but would become so only if there was a Francis II.

My favorite story is the one told where one day, John Paul was signing one of his first documents in Latin, writing Joannes Paulus I, and the secretary or assistant who was near him said, “Holy Father, you do not need to write John Paul I – there is no I.” To which the Pope replied, smiling, “There will be a John Paul II.”

And there was, just about month later!

What I learned about Cardinal Albino Luciani from reading news stories and books over the years (and from talking to a niece of his who worked at the Holy See Press Office) made me so wish we had had much more time with him. I know I would have read his speeches, homilies and other writings with rapt attention and I am sure I’d have felt the same way in his presence. If you can get an English language copy of John Paul I’s “Illustrissimi,” do it!

And how could one not smile when in the presence of the Smiling Pope!


Pope Francis has authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree on a miraculous healing attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul I.

Vatican News

Pope Francis on Wednesday received in audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorized his dicastery to promulgate the decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Albino Luciani who became Pope John Paul I.

The miracle
The Congregation’s website says it is about the healing of an eleven-year-old girl at the end of her life with “severe acute inflammatory encephalopathy, a malignant refractory epileptic illness and septic shock”.  Her situation was very serious, characterized by numerous daily seizures and a septic state of bronchopneumonia. The initiative to invoke the Pope had been taken by the parish priest of the parish under whose jurisdiction was the hospital.

So for Pope John Paul I, who hailed from the northern Italian region of Veneto, the way to beatification has been cleared and Pope Francis will decide upon a date for the ceremony.

Born on October 17, 1912 in Forno di Canale (today Canale d’Agordo), in the province of Belluno, and died on September 28, 1978 in the Vatican, Albino Luciani was Pope for only 34 days, one of the shortest pontificates in history. He was the son of a socialist worker who had worked for a long time as an emigrant in Switzerland.

In a letter written to Luciani granting him permission to enter the seminary, his father wrote: “I hope that when you become a priest, you will be on the side of the poor, because Christ was on their side” – words that Luciani would put into practice all his life.

Albino was ordained priest in 1935 and in 1958, immediately after the election of John XXIII, who as the Patriarch of Venice knew the him, was appointed bishop of Vittorio Veneto. Son of a land facing emigration due to poverty, but very lively from the social point of view, and of a Church characterized by the figures of great priests, Luciani participated in the entire Second Vatican Council and applied its directives with enthusiasm.

A pastor close to his people, he spent a lot of time in the confessional.  During the years the lawfulness of the contraceptive pill was being discussed, he listened to many young families and repeatedly expressed himself in favour of an opening of the Church on its use.

In 1968, when Pope Paul VI released his encyclical Humanae Vitae, declaring the use of the contraceptive pill morally illicit, the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto promoted the document, adhering to the Pontiff’s magisterium.  Pope Paul VI, who appreciated him, appointed him the Patriarch of Venice in 1969 and later made him a cardinal in March 1973.

The people’s pastor
Luciani, who chose the word “humilitas” [humility] for his episcopal coat of arms, is a pastor who lived soberly, firm in what was essential in the faith, open from the social point of view, close to the poor and the workers. He was rigid when it came to the unscrupulous use of money to the detriment of the people, as was demonstrated by his firmness on the occasion of an economic scandal in Vittorio Veneto involving one of his priests.  In his magisterium, he particularly insisted on the theme of mercy.

As Patriarch of Venice, he suffered a lot because of the protests that marked the years following  Vatican II.  In Christmas of 1976, when the factories of the industrial centre of Marghera were occupied, he pronounced words which are still very relevant today. “Showing off luxury, wasting money, refusing to invest it, stashing it away abroad, does not only constitute insensitivity and egoism: it can become provocation and weigh on our heads what Pope Paul VI calls ‘the wrath of the poor with unpredictable consequences'”.

A great communicator, he wrote an acclaimed book entitled “Illustrissimi,” which contains letters he wrote to the great personalities of the past with judgments on the present. For him, catechesis was of particular importance and the need for those who transmit the contents of the faith to be understood by all.

After the death of Paul VI, on 26 August 1978 he was elected in a conclave that lasted one day.  The double name he assumed on his election was in itself a programme.  By combining John and Paul, he not only offers a tribute of gratitude to the Popes who wanted him as bishop and cardinal, but also marked a path of continuity in the application of the Council, barring the way both to nostalgic retreats into the past and uncontrolled leaps forward.

He abandoned the use of the royal plural, “We”, and in the early days refused the use of the gestatorial chair, bowing to the request of his collaborators only when he realized that by proceeding on foot people who were not in the front rows had difficulty seeing him.

The Wednesday general audiences during his very brief pontificate were catechetical meetings.  He spoke without a written text, quoted poems from memory, invited a boy and an altar boy to approach him and talked to them.

In an impromptu speech, he recalled having suffered hunger as a child and repeated his predecessor’s courageous words about the “people of hunger” who challenge the “people of opulence”. He went out only once from the Vatican, in the sultry weeks of late summer 1978, to take possession of the cathedral of St. John Lateran, of his Diocese of Rome as Pontiff.  There, he received the homage of the mayor of Rome, Giulio Carlo Argan, a communist, to whom the new Pope quoted the Catechism of St. Pius X, recalling that among “the sins that cry out for vengeance in the sight of God” are “oppressing the poor” and “defrauding workers of their just wages”.

Pope John Paul I died suddenly on the night of September 28, 1978. He was found lifeless by the nun who brought coffee to his room every morning. In just a few weeks of his pontificate, he had entered the hearts of millions of people for his simplicity, his humility, his words in defence of the least and his evangelical smile.

Several theories of alleged conspiracies on his sudden and unexpected death were built that served to sell books and produce films. A documented study of the death, which definitively closes the case, was signed by the vice-postulator of the beatification process, Stefania Falasca (Cronaca di una morte, Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

The reputation of the holiness of Pope John Paul I spread very quickly. Many people have prayed and are praying to him. Many simple people and even the bishops of Brazil asked for the opening of his sainthood cause, a long procedure that has now concluded.


Today is the feast of Blessed Carlo Acutis, beatified one year ago. If you were not aware of this amazing young man called “the millennial saint,” here is a link to my blog about his life and beautification: 10 | October | 2020 | Joan’s Rome ( Franciscan media described Blessed Carlo as “a self-taught computer whiz, defender of bullied students, soccer enthusiast, and deeply devoted to the Eucharist—all this in a life cut short by leukemia at the age of 15.” (Vatican photo and perugia photo)

On his beatification:


The Holy Father has appointed the Most Reverend Diego Giovanni Ravelli as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations and as head of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir.

By Vatican News staff writer

Curriculum vitae

Monsignor Diego Giovanni Ravelli was born on 1 November 1965 in Lazzate, Italy. He was ordained a priest for the Public Clerical Association Priests of Jesus Crucified in 1991, then incardinated in the diocese of Velletri-Segni. In 2000 he obtained a diploma in pedagogical methodology from the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, and in 2010 a doctorate in sacred liturgy at the Liturgical Institute of the Pontifical Athenaeum of Saint Anselm in Rome. From 2013 he has served as office head in the Office of Papal Charities, where he had held the role of official since 1998.

After collaborating with the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff as Assistant Master of Ceremonies, he was appointed a Papal Master of Ceremonies in 2006. (Vatican photo)

Msgr. Ravelli takes over the role of Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations from Monsignor Guido Marini, who earlier this year was appointed bishop of Tortona by Pope Francis.

Appointment of Pontifical Master of Ceremonies
The Reverend Cristiano Antonietti, nunciature secretary, in service in the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, has been appointed as Pontifical Master of Ceremonies.


Fifty-nine years ago today, Pope John opened Vatican Council II! Just a year and a half earlier I had been in his presence, the first Pope I ever saw! See my story and photo from that day below!


( – Although few people had as great an impact on the 20th century as Pope John XXIII, he avoided the limelight as much as possible. Indeed, one writer has noted that his “ordinariness” seems one of his most remarkable qualities.

The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo’s diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Roncalli returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop’s secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary, and as publisher of the diocesan paper.

His service as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army during World War I gave him a firsthand knowledge of war. In 1921, Fr. Roncalli was made national director in Italy of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He also found time to teach patristics at a seminary in the Eternal City.

In 1925, he became a papal diplomat, serving first in Bulgaria, then in Turkey, and finally in France. During World War II, he became well acquainted with Orthodox Church leaders. With the help of Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli helped save an estimated 24,000 Jewish people.

Named a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953, he was finally a residential bishop. A month short of entering his 78th year, Cardinal Roncalli was elected pope, taking the name John after his father and the two patrons of Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. Pope John took his work very seriously but not himself. His wit soon became proverbial, and he began meeting with political and religious leaders from around the world. In 1962, he was deeply involved in efforts to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.

His most famous encyclicals were Mother and Teacher (1961) and Peace on Earth (1963). Pope John XXIII enlarged the membership in the College of Cardinals and made it more international. At his address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he criticized the “prophets of doom” who “in these modern times see nothing but prevarication and ruin.” Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said, “The Church has always opposed… errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

On his deathbed, Pope John said: “It is not that the Gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.”

“Good Pope John” died on June 3, 1963. St. John Paul II beatified him in 2000, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.


Throughout his life, Angelo Roncalli cooperated with God’s grace, believing that the job at hand was worthy of his best efforts. His sense of God’s providence made him the ideal person to promote a new dialogue with Protestant and Orthodox Christians, as well as with Jews and Muslims. In the sometimes noisy crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, many people become silent on seeing the simple tomb of Pope John XXIII, grateful for the gift of his life and holiness. After his beatification, his tomb was moved into the basilica itself.


My junior year in college was spent studying French in Fribourg, Switzerland during which time we had a six-week spring break, the first three weeks of which were spent in Italy. While in Rome, a papal audience took place. They were not weekly events at the time and there was no audience hall as we know it today. Rather, such group gatherings were held in the magnificent Hall of Blessings, the large room above the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica – the room with the central loggia or balcony where newly-elected Popes first appear. (Vatican photo)

Pope John was carried into the room on an elevated chair known as the sedia gestatoria. The chair bearers were called sediari. Only Paul VI and John Paul I used the chair after Pope John.  (JFL photo)

It was an amazing, wonderful, unforgettable, first-ever, “Oh my word, I am in the presence of the Pope, the Holy Father, the one and only head of the Catholic Church” moment – an experience that I’ve truly never forgotten. We did not speak Italian so someone had to summarize the papal talk for us but we heard a lot of laughter from Italians present and I later learned that John XXIII was known for his wit.

How very much I wanted to speak to the Pope, just to be near this man who struck me as someone who could be your favorite uncle, even your grandfather. There was almost a desire to hug him, as strange as that may sound! What he inspired me to do was to learn more about the Church, the papacy in general, but about him, Pope John XXIII, in particular.

I did learn how John XXIII was puzzled why his visits to orphanages, hospitals and prisons in Rome caused a stir in the press. Shouldn’t the bishop reach out to the neediest? He was his same simple self when talking with orphans and prisoners or presidents and diplomats.

When crowned Pope, he said it was his intention to be a pastoral Pope since “all other human gifts and accomplishments – learning, practical experience, diplomatic finesse – can broaden and enrich pastoral work but cannot replace it.”

By the way, John XXIII (he took the name John to honor his father Giovanni, John) and Paul VI were the last two Popes to be crowned. Pope John Paul I did away with then papal triple crown and from then on (September 1978), the ceremony was called an inauguration, not an incoronation.

What most stayed with me that March day in 1961 was a sense of the Pope’s great simplicity, that of a man who is true to his roots. After all, he was the first-born son of a 13 children born to a farmer and his wife. He came from a simple background and maintained that simplicity, I was told over the years, from his first breath to his last.

To be honest, in many ways he struck me more as a father, a simple priest but a holy father, someone who was easily relatable to the average Catholic in the pew.

In the ensuing years I tried to learn more about John XXIII, in particular, in preparation for a half hour television special I was to do on this Pope just before his 2014 canonization. I read many books and was struck by what he accomplished in a mere 5 years of papacy! One book in particular really struck me because it described not only his down-to-earthness but his great humor.

Here are just a few of the many stories that remained with me over the years! Enjoy!

One day John XXIII accompanied a visitor for a stroll in the Vatican gardens, explaining where they were in the gardens, some facts about the Apostolic Palace and anything else the guest wanted to know. At one point, he was asked: “Your Holiness, how many people work in the Vatican?” The Holy Father responded, “Well, about half!”

Another of my favorite stories involves the day that Pope John wanted to go visit Santo Spirito hospital, Holy Spirit hospital, which is about five blocks from Saint Peter Square. He had a predilection for sick people and certainly wanted to visit this nearby hospital. The papal car arrived at the appointed time, and John got out as the nun who ran the whole show greeted him with these words: “Welcome Holy Father! I’m Mother Superior of Holy Spirit” to which John replied: “Lucky you, I’m just the Pope!”

Another anecdote comes from his time as apostolic nuncio to France (he had also been nuncio or papal ambassador to Bulgaria and Turkey). Archbishop Roncalli (the future Pope John) was presented one day with the chief rabbi of Paris and the two had a warm conversation. When they were ready to move into a nearby sitting room where other guests awaited them, the rabbi points to the door and courteously invited the archbishop to go first. Archbishop Roncalli responded, “Please, the Old Testament first…”

And lastly: As Vatican officials were discussing John’s surprising plans to call an ecumenical council, a colossial meeting that would entail great planning and organization, one official told the Pope it would be “absolutely impossible to open the Second Vatican Council by 1963. “Fine,” replied John, “we’ll open it in 1962!” And he did!

He did that 59 years ago today!

For so many reasons, Pope St. John XXIII was nicknamed “the Good Pope.”