Sunday, January 16

He died after 33 days as pope. Now an author believes he has found the truth about the death.

First, the Vatican gave incorrect information about who found Pope John Paul 1 dead in bed. Then the world was served a huge scandal.

  • Chico Harlan

    The Washington Post

  • Stefano Pitrelli

    The Washington Post

On the morning of September 29, 1978, the Vatican issued a brief and astonishing message. Pope John Paul 1 died after a heart attack. He was found in bed by the priest who was his personal secretary, it was said.

This was the first version of the story of what had happened.

Within a few days, rumors began to circulate that something criminal was behind it. Cardinals in the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s state administration, were pressured to provide clarifying information. When an Italian news agency revealed that the Vatican had given incorrect information about the identity of the person who had found the body, speculation grew that something was amiss here.

What could be the reason why a pope, only 65 years old, died after only 33 days in office?

Four decades later, John Paul 1 is well on his way to becoming a saint. The Vatican has announced that he will be beaten on the basis of a miracle that is said to have happened in Buenos Aires in 2011. A seriously ill 11-year-old girl is said to have been healed thanks to intercession.

But to the extent that this pope is still remembered, it is mostly because of the suspicions surrounding his death.

Over the years, several people have thrown themselves over the case. Everyone has used a very different approach, and only a few have stuck to the facts. John Paul 1’s legacy has been influenced, not only by mystery and conspiracy theories, but also by people who have competed to try to bring out what really happened.

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