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5 Books About the Curious Story of Pope John Paul I

Read about the life and death of the man they call "The Smiling Pope."

Though John Paul I was pope for only 33 days (he was said to have died of a heart attack in his sleep) he left quite an impression on the faithful. Described as warm, gentle, and kind, he chose the motto Humilitas (humility in Latin) and was christened “The Smiling Pope” by media for his friendly demeanor.

No surprise then that he became the subject of a number of books. Get to know the Pope who was gone too soon through these five interesting reads! (Read: Have You Read These Books by the Popes Yet?)

The Smiling Pope: The Life and Teaching of John Paul I

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Photos from Goodreads and (Pope John Paul I) Maier files

Written by Raymond and Lauretta Seabeck, the 2004 biography features his life story followed by a compilation of his writings (homilies and lectures). An excellent introduction to the life of a well-loved man, said those who read it. (Read: 3 Books to Feed Your Curiosity About Catholic Saints)

Illustrissimi: Letters from John Paul I

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Photos from Goodreads and (Pope John Paul I) Maier files

This 1978 book is filled with his letters to 40 individuals from history and fiction (from Jesus Christ and St. Therese de Lisieux to Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and even Pinocchio). Described as droll and witty, the letters are a creative way of presenting a homily, each one with a point to make about relevant subjects and themes.  

God’s Candidate: The Life and Times of John Paul I

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Photos from Goodreads and (Pope John Paul I) Maier files

Did the pope really die of a heart attack on the night of September 29, 1978? In this 2008 biography, author Paul Spackman lays to rest conspiracy theories surrounding the untimely demise of John Paul I. (Read: 4 Illuminating Books That Take You to Vatican)

A Thief in the Night: The Mysterious Death of Pope John Paul I

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Photos from Goodreads and (Pope John Paul I) Maier files

Yet another book about the Pope’s unexpected death, this one an investigative approach by John Cornwell that addresses conspiracy theories on his passing, as well as the scandals in the Vatican during JPI’s brief reign. (Read: 5 Classic Filipino Books That You Won’t Be Able to Put Down)

Papa Luciani: Cronaca di Una Morte

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Photos from Amazon.it and (Pope John Paul I) Maier files

One of the books on Pope John Paul I to come out in recent years, this one should end all speculation surrounding his mysterious death. Vatican journalist Stefania Falasca draws upon never-before-seen medical reports and actual testimonies from key witnesses to write with certainty that JPI did indeed die of a heart attack.

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