At the age of 22, he was ordained a priest for the Italian diocese of Belluno e Feltre in 1935. He served as the rector of the diocese's seminary for 10 years and taught courses on moral theology, canon law, and sacred art.
He participated in all of the sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as the bishop of Vittorio Veneto and he worked to implement the guidelines council in the following decade as the Patriarch of Venice.
As a cardinal, Luciani published a collection of “open letters” to historic figures, saints, famous writers, and fictional characters. The book, Illustrissimi, included letters to Jesus, King David, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Christopher Marlowe, as well as Pinocchio and Figaro, the barber of Seville.
He made history in 1978 when he became the first pope to take a double name, after his two immediate predecessors, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. His episcopal motto was simply: “Humilitas.”
Shortly before his death at the age of 65, John Paul I prayed: “Lord take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings, but make me become what you want me to be.”
As the rain clouds cleared by the end of the beatification ceremony, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus in Latin. He said that he was offering the prayer for peace in “martyred Ukraine.”
From his wheelchair, Pope Francis offered personal greetings at the end of the Mass to some of the cardinals, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu. He also greeted the crowd in the popemobile.
“In the words of Pope John Paul I, ‘we are the objects of undying love on the part of God’ (Angelus, 10 September 1978). An undying love: it never sinks beneath the horizon of our lives; it constantly shines upon us and illuminates even our darkest nights,” Pope Francis said.
“When we gaze upon the Crucified Lord, we are called to the heights of that love, to be purified of our distorted ideas of God and our self-absorption, and to love God and others, in Church and society, including those who do not see things as we do, to love even our enemies.”