New Italian Book Drives A Stake Into Conspiracy Theories Of Pope’s Mysterious Death


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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A book containing previously classified testimonies and documents published Tuesday dispels conspiracy theories surrounding the untimely death of Pope John Paul I.

Italian journalist Stefania Falasca based her book, “Pope Luciani: Chronicle of a Death,” on secret Vatican files and the medical report of the pope’s death, according to Aleteia. John Paul, known as “The Smiling Pope” and born as Albino Luciani, died at age 66 after serving only 33 days as the 263rd Successor of Peter, leading to speculations over his death, ranging from a complex assassination plot to a weak heart that failed in the Vatican’s cutthroat environment. Falasca, who is also the Vice Speculator for the beatification of John Paul, puts those speculations to rest in the book, according to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who wrote the book’s foreword.

The book draws from the medical report drawn up by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, who confirmed John Paul’s death at his bedside, and several eyewitness accounts, like those of John Paul’s butler, Angelo Gugel, and Sister Margherita Marin, one of the nuns who served John Paul and found him dead.

According to the testimonies, John Paul felt ill while he was praying with John Magee, his secretary, the night before he was found dead. John Paul did not want anyone to worry, and so did not call for a doctor and did not receive any medicine. Marin and Sister Vicenza Taffarel discovered John Paul dead at 5:15 a.m., Sept. 29, 1978. The nuns’ testimonies depict John Paul as a man content with his station and his work, often seen smiling and at peace as he attended to his papal responsibilities, thus denying the claims that he was a pope overcome with stress, unfit for the political environment of the Holy See.

“His sudden and unexpected death … [led] to a great number of theories, suspicions, and suppositions. He died too soon and too suddenly,” Parolin wrote in the book’s prologue.

Writers peddled popular conspiracy theories over the years, and even “The Godfather Part III” attempted to frame John Paul’s death as connected to dealings with the Vatican bank and the intervention of the Italian mafia. Parolin said he hopes Falasca’s book will put an end to misinformation about the pope’s death and will help educate those who did not know about his life, especially as cardinals and bishops evaluate his life to determine whether the cause for his sainthood is genuine.

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Joshua Gill