VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis recognized that Pope John Paul I, who served only 33 days as pope, lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way.
The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision Nov. 9. It marks the first major step on the path to sainthood for the pope who died in 1978 at the age of 65, shocking the world and a church that had just mourned the death of Blessed Paul VI.
Pope Francis would have to recognize a miracle attributed to the late pope’s intercession in order for him to be beatified, the next step toward sainthood. A second miracle would be needed for canonization.
Stefania Falasca, vice postulator of Pope John Paul’s sainthood cause, said one “presumed extraordinary healing” had already been investigated by a diocese and a second possibility is being studied, but the Vatican does not begin its investigations until a sainthood candidate is declared venerable.
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.”