John Paul I, 'Smiling Pope' for a Month, Moves Towards Sainthood

 Pope Francis is helped up from his wheelchair as he arrives on stage to preside over a beatification mass of late Pope John Paul I, on September 4, 2022, at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. 

Pope John Paul I, who died in 1978 after only 33 days as pontiff, moved closer to sainthood on Sunday with the Vatican still having to dismiss lingering conspiracy theories that he was a victim of foul play. 

Pope Francis beatified John Paul at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square before tens of thousands of people. Beatification is the last step before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. 

John Paul was known as "The Smiling Pope" because of his meekness and simplicity. 

"With a smile, Pope John Paul managed to communicate the goodness of the Lord," Francis said in his homily, speaking as people huddled under umbrellas in a thunderstorm. 

"How beautiful is a Church with a happy, serene and smiling face, that never closes doors, never hardens hearts, never complains or harbors resentment, does not grow angry or impatient, does not look dour or suffer nostalgia for the past."

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