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His two immediate successors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, later recalled the warm qualities of the late pontiff in several addresses. He was baptised on the day he was born by the midwife because he was considered to be in danger of death, and the solemn rites of baptism were formalised in the parish church two days later.

In Italy, he is remembered with the appellatives of "Il Papa del Sorriso" (The Smiling Pope) Albino Luciani was born on 17 October 1912 in Forno di Canale (now Canale d'Agordo) in Belluno, a province of the Veneto region in Northern Italy. Luciani was a restless child, in 1922, aged 10, he was awestruck when a Capuchin friar came to his village to preach the Lenten sermons.

Luciani entered the minor seminary of Feltre in 1923, where his teachers found him "too lively", and later went on to the major seminary of Belluno.

During his stay at Belluno, he attempted to join the Jesuits but was denied by the seminary's rector, Bishop Giosuè Cattarossi.

The situation was resolved by a special dispensation by Pope Pius XII on 27 March 1941.

His thesis (The origin of the human soul according to Antonio Rosmini) largely attacked Rosmini's theology and earned him his doctorate magna cum laude in 1947.

The people then wanted a compromise: make their choice the parish's vice-rector if not parish priest.

Finally, he was escorted by the police and took the Eucharist from the Montaner church, leaving the church unblessed, and waiting for their next move. On 15 December 1969, Luciani was appointed the new Patriarch of Venice by Pope Paul VI, taking possession of his new archdiocese the following February.

Before the papal conclave that elected him, he expressed his desire not to be elected, telling those close to him that he would decline the papacy if elected, but, upon the cardinals electing him, he felt an obligation to say yes.

He was the first pontiff to have a double name, choosing "John Paul" in honour of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.

From that moment he decided that he wanted to become a priest and went to his father to ask for his permission.

His father agreed and said to him: "I hope that when you become a priest you will be on the side of the workers, for Christ Himself would have been on their side".

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