John Paul I on sainthood track

Nov. 12, 2006 at 1:57 AM

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Pope John Paul I, the former Italian cardinal who died suddenly 33 days after his election as pope, is on the track to sainthood.

The process began in Belluno in 2003, the town near Venice where Albino Luciani was born and spent much of his life, the BBC reported. Reports from the testimony of about 200 witnesses are to be sent to the Vatican.

John Paul I, known to the faithful who knew him best as "Papa Luciani," is remembered as "the smiling pope." He is also remembered for the humility that led him to adopt the names of his two immediate predecessors.

"For me, civic, social and political freedom coincides exactly with the message of Jesus Christ," he said.

John Paul I died of a heart attack Sept. 28, 1978. He was followed by Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian to head the church in hundreds of years, who served for more than a quarter century.

John Paul II is on the fast track for sainthood.

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