Pope John Paul died of a heart attack in his bed early on Friday (29 September).
Pope John Paul died of a heart attack in his bed early on Friday (29 September). He was 65 and had been Pope for just 33 days, the shortest reign of any pontiff this century.
SYNOPSIS: August the 26th, 1978 and senior cardinal Pericle Felice appears to announce the election of the new Pope.
Pope John Paul appeared in front of a massed crowd in St. Peter's Square after just one day of elections. It was the fastest-ever election of a Pope.
John Paul became the leader of the world's 700 million Catholics with little experience of the Vatican. He had worked mainly in the Italian provinces and at his election he was Patriarch of Venice. He was surprised at his election, but some sources explained the decision by saying that before the conclave the cardinals had decided to choose a pastoral Pope.
Whatever the reason for his election, Pope John Paul began his reign as pontiff in the same style he became Archbishop of Venice, nine years earlier. Then, as earlier this month at his investiture as Pope, he did away with traditional pomp and splendour, choosing instead a simple ceremony. His early death gave him no chance to establish his austere but moderate approach.
Even in his short term as Pope, John Paul showed himself to be a dramatic contrast to his predecessor Paul, who was an often introverted, cultured figure. Pope Paul had a wide knowledge of the church and the world, obtained as a Vatican diplomat and as substitute Secretary of State under Pius the twelfth.
Less than a week ago, on September 23rd, Pope John Paul was invested as Bishop of Rome, in a simple ceremony in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. It was the first time he had left the Vatican since his election. Now, Rome is without a Bishop and the Catholic Church, for the second time this year, without a Pope. The Cardinals too will have to assemble again for another conclave, to find the third Pope of 1978.