Saturday, August 23, 2003

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Smiling Pope's Election

August 26th, 1978


"Yet some Catholics still fondly remember Pope John Paul I and his endearingly simple style of being pope. A few elder cardinals are convinced that his brief papacy was part of a providential design that led to the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years.

In the crypt below St. Peter's Basilica, the tomb of 'the smiling pope' still draws the most comments from passers-by.

On a recent morning, 56-year-old Lucia Casella went up to the marble sarcophagus decorated with angels and gave it a kiss.

'I remember him with great affection. I think he was very human -- smiling on the outside but perhaps worried on the inside about the duties of being pope,' she said."