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Pontificate of John Paul I (1978)

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250 lire Keys of St. Peter and Papal Chamberlain's Insignia single

Nineteen seventy-eight is remembered as the "Year of Three Popes." Paul VI died of a massive heart attack on August 6, and the College of Cardinals elected 65-year-old Albino Cardinal Luciani, the Patriarch of Venice, as pope. Luciani chose the regnal name John Paul, combining those of his two immediate predecessors, whom he greatly admired. His papacy, however, was one of the shortest in history. On the thirty-fourth morning after his election, the pope was found dead in his bed. The only stamps of his brief reign were the mourning issue that marked his death. These were rushed into production and valid for only four days, until the election of the late pope's successor.

Daniel Piazza, National Postal Museum

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