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The Magisterium of John Paul I in the light of his library



Organized by the

John Paul I Vatican Foundation

Friday 24 November at the


(Piazza della Pilotta, 4 - Rome)


Vatican City, 14 November 2023 – A rich library experienced as a functioning workshop, an integral part of the papers of his private archive, the personal library of Albino Luciani – John Paul I (1912-1978), originally consisting of around five thousand volumes, passed through all the locations where he exercised his ministry. The papers and the library originally constituted a single corpus, and were brought together to the Vatican apartment immediately after his election. After his death, the library, was partly dispersed. The greater part is now conserved in the Benedict XVI Diocesan Library of Venice, and catalogued as part of a project organized by the John Paul I Vatican Foundation.

The conference is intended to present the work of reconstituting and valorizing the library collection belonging to Blessed Albino Luciani, and studying his Magisterium in the light of his library on the occasion of the publication of the critical edition of the work Illustrissimi, the singular and fortunate sylloge of forty imaginary letters addressed to personalities and authors of every age, edited by Luciani in 1976 and reprinted with the papal imprimatur during his pontificate a few days before his death.

The event will take place on Friday 24 November from 9.00 to 12.30 in the Aula Magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

After the institutional greetings, opened by the Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Fr. Mark A. Lewis S.J., by the President of the Foundation Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the signing of the Protocol of Understanding between the Foundation and the Pontifical Gregorian University, the conference, coordinated by Professor Fabio Pierangeli, lecturer in Italian Literature at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, will start from the works carried out for the recovery of Luciani's library with the projection of a video and the intervention of Don Diego Sartorelli, director of the Diocesan Library "Benedict XVI" and of the Historical Archive of the Patriarchate of Venice.

Drawing from the bibliographic sources, Professor Mauro Velati will focus on Luciani's theological and spiritual formation, while Professor Gilfredo Marengo, of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute, will investigate the narrative connotation in Luciani's pastoral vision.

Attention will then turn to the work Illustrissimi. Imaginary Letters, an emblem of the close dialogue between the letters and books in his personal library, now published by Messaggero Padova Editions with a preface by Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça. Thanks to decades of research work and study on the sources, it has been possible to take direct note of the genesis of the imaginary letters in the collection, which for the first time is presented in a critical edition with the apparatus of notes and variants edited by Dr. Stefania Falasca, vice-president of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation.

In the preface, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça states with Italo Calvino that if "a classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say", "this, without a shadow of a doubt, is the case with Illustrissimi" and "well deserves to nourish new generations of readers".

"Sermo humilis and literary references in the writings of Luciani: the case of Illustrissimi" is the speech by Stefania Falasca, who obtained her doctorate in Italianistics at Tor Vergata University, leading her to reflect on the theological choice of sermo humilis and the particular familiarity with the literary dimension as a canon characterizing Luciani's entire oral and written production.

“All those who move in the village”: the community of literary characters in the letters of Illustrissimi” is instead the original topic that will be addressed by Professor Cristiana Lardo of the Chair of Italian Literature at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

To conclude, there will be a dialogue on Albino Luciani's linguistic strategy between Professor Fabio Pierangeli and researcher Dr. Simone Martuscelli, winner of the call for proposals promoted by the University of Rome Tor Vergata and supported by the Foundation for a study on literary education through the book material acquired and now published by the publisher Marcianum Press - Gruppo Editoriale Studium entitled: Soave e Piano. Il discorso letterario nel magistero di Albino Luciani (“Soave and Piano. Literary discourse in the magisterium of Albino Luciani”). The essay, cross-referencing a study of the volumes in Luciani's library with a careful reading of his work, reconstructs the linguistic strategy that runs through the entire span of his preaching.

Excerpts from some of the letters in Illustrissimi will be read by Dr. Luisa Andreazza, interspersed with musical interventions by harpist Gemma Gresele, maestro Cecilia Francesca Romana Valente of the Milan Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory and soprano Francesca Polenta of the Rome Santa Cecilia Conservatory.


Accreditation procedures

Journalists and media workers who wish to attend must apply via the Holy See Press Office online accreditation system, at: press.vatican.va/accreditamenti.

For further information: Scientific Secretary and contacts, Dr. Flavia Tudini - Via della Conciliazione, 5 - 00120 Vatican City - tel +39 06 698 85925