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Pope John Paul I takes step closer to sainthood after unanimous vote to recognise ‘heroic virtues’

Pope John Paul I, known as the smiling pope, is pictured at the Vatican in 1978 (CNS)

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has unanimously voted in favour of the “heroic virtues” of Pope John Paul I, meaning that Pope Francis will now shortly sign a decree declaring him “venerable”.

The dicastery of the saints will now have to approve a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul’s intercession before declaring him “blessed”, and second miracle before canonising him as a saint.

Born Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I reigned for just 33 days before dying suddenly of a heart attack. Before his election, he served as Patriarch of Venice for nine years, and was created a cardinal in 1973.