Today in Catholic History – Albino Luciani is elected to the papacy

On 26 August 1978, Patriarch Albino Luciani of Venice was elected to the papacy after four ballots. He will take the name of Pope John Paul I in honor of his two predecessors – John XXIII and Paul VI.

Luciani was chosen as a compromise candidate and when he was asked whether he would accept the papacy, he is said to have responded, “May God forgive you for what you have done”, before accepting his election.

This conclave was important as the first conclave since 1721 at which three future pontiffs would participate – Luciani and Cardinals Wojtyła [Pope John Paul II] and Ratzinger [Benedict XVI].

Since it the conclave took place in the summer, it became very hot. Cardinal John Cody of Chicago took three showers in one night to cool himself.

After the conclave, one of the cardinals asked the newly elected pope for permission to smoke. While this was against protocol, the new pope gave his approval on the condition that the “smoke was white.”


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