Retentions, Reactions, & Regalia — Day 3

Monday, Aug. 28, 1978

Pope Retains Entire Vatican Hierarchy (AP & UPI)

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul I took up the reigns of papal power [today] and reinstated the Vatican hierarchy of his predecessor in his first action in support of a pledge to follow the footsteps of Pope Paul VI.

Church sources said the new pope, who was not in close contact with the cardinals of the Curia—the Vatican government—when he was Cardinal Albino Luciani, patriarch of Venice, decided to postpone any leadership changes until after he is better acquainted with men and issues.

John Paul, 65, also reappointed [by a handwritten letter] Pope Paul’s Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, 72, of France, the late pontiff’s premier and most trusted aide.

Reaction in U.S. to the Selection (UPI)

Cardinal John Carberry of St. Louis said “none of us expected” the move toward Cardinal Albino Luciani. “It just developed.”  … “It was just beautiful, very encouraging.”

“The motion in the conclave was clearly the Holy Spirit moving in one direction,” Cardinal John Dearden of Detroit said.

Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia said he had “never seen the Holy Spirit act in such a dramatic fashion. It was really a delightful surprise.” … “We were really praying up a storm,” Krol said. “There was tranquility and serenity and in the end a sense of exhilaration.”

“It was unnerving,” Cardinal John Cody of Chicago echoed.

Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York said Luciani was in his mind as a possible pope when he went into the conclave. But he said, “We did not expect the vote so soon.” Cooke said the conclave was “a marvelous spiritual experience. The Holy Spirit brought us together so beautifully. There was no doubt about the wishes of the Lord.” Asked about the Pope’s unusual choice of two names, Cooke said, “At first I was surprised. But in a moment or two I said, ‘that’s perfect’.”

The Papal Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul I (Pictured without the papal motto: "Humilitas")

The Papal Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul I (pictured without the papal motto: “Humilitas”)

The Symbolism of John Paul I’s Coat of Arms

John Paul, the first pope to take a double name, has combined and adapted the heraldry of his two predecessors’ papal coats of arms to create his own.

Pope’s Coat of Arms Bears Motto ‘Humility’ (AP)

The motto (or mottos) that a pope choses for his reign suggests insights into the man:

  • Pope Pius XI’s mottos were “The Peace of Christ in the Realm of Christ,” and “It goes by swiftly” from Job 6:15 (perhaps in reference to the passing glories of this life.)
  • In 1939, on the eve of World War II, Pope Pius XII chose Isaiah 32:17, “The work of justice [shall be] peace.”
  • Pope John XXIII’s motto was “Obedience & Peace.”
  • Pope Paul VI’s mottos were “With Him on the Mount,” (alluding to the Transfiguration) and “In the name of the Lord.”

What motto would you choose for yourself and why?


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