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Memories from my uncle

Since when I was a child I only keep small flashes that make me remember my uncle: the brief visits to the Seminary or to the Curia, together with dad and my aunt Nina, in his room plenty of books, this smiling priest in long black cassock who offered me candies, a caress and was interested on what I was doing...


Cardinal Albino Luciani with his niece Pia the day of her marriage His quick visits to the family he did not resign in spite of being very busy, the candies for us, children, or the first icecreams, always accompanied by his smile and his kind words that tried to make us lose our shyness. His spontaneous laughter before our witticisms of children, together with his sweet caresses and his always encouraging words.


DHis presence at home for a longer period, during his disease, the daily Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Sisters of the school, to where my brother Giovanni or me accompanied him to avoid him the cold of the big church


But the moment in which our closer relationship began was when I was 12 years old. Finished the primary school, I had to continue the studies in a national school, in Fano, Marche ( Region ). Rules established that the internal ones had to be accompanied by a close relative, but mother had had, just a short time before, another one of my little brothers and dad was ill in bed. He offered himself to accompany me, taking charge of the long trip with this little girl, his niece, who only knew him up to a certain point. I still can see him: coming home, taking my luggage and tranquilizing my parents, not as much for my security that was naturally excluded, but by the fact that, despite his many occupations, he offered himself with much pleasure to do that favour.

His worry to make me pass the endless time less tediously on the train, it took him to make me notice the most interesting things from the window, to ask for me and my brothers, to offer me to drink and eat those sandwiches that he had made him prepare by the Nuns of Sperti School in Belluno, where he was chaplain. And that sweet figure, of encouraging words, the last one I saw before beginning my schoolgirl life, was always present and, not only in the memory, to comfort my homesickness of girl, first, of teen, later, far from home by need. He invited me to write him and he always replied, with advice, encouragement and appreciations that made me feel all his paternal affection for me. He was interested on my studies and my other activities, comforting me when something wasn't going on the suitable track, sharing my joy when things went well.


He recommended me to do my best, not only to myself but also to give example to my numerous younger brothers:

"You are the head of the climbers in the climbing of life;

you also have responsibilities towards those who follow you..."


Pope John-Paul I and Pia Luciani (3 september 1978) More than once, passing with the car together with Bishop Muccin, during his trip to Rome, where he had to attend the Council sessions, he had stopped for a brief affectionate, encouraging or comforting greeting.


Having gone to Rome to attend the University, our relationship became closer; one day, he offered me a ticket to attend a public session of the Council. "It is an extraordinary long-range historical event, - he said - , and of growth for the Church, but listening to what it is said, you will be able to learn much, too".


Our correspondence became more frequent; the greater autonomy allowed me to frequent him more often: I never returned home from Rome without passing first by his house. Also after the discussion of my doctoral thesis, the first stage was at his house. Sister Vincenza had prepared a cake, a bottle of sparkling wine was ready and he celebrated it by sharing my joy and joking: "Now the world is not more scared because it has one more doctor".


Our reciprocal affection had increased more and more, and I had tried to frequent him to the utmost, accepting his invitations, first at Vittorio Veneto Castle and afterwards at the Patriarchal Palace of Venice because I found in him the complement that my father hasn't, a very good person on the other hand, but of a completely different temper.


I mainly liked his way of teaching me the things, without making it notice, speaking about this or that in an almost indifferent way. Often, when I left home to ask him an advice, once at his house, I did not see the need of talking him about it any more, because in his speeches, without being noticed by him, he had already given me the answers.


A thing that amazed me very much was his serenity to face the problems, that was not due to unsconcience, but trusting on the Lord and his Providence. Perhaps, he confided me: "I have many difficulties with this or with that... it is not easy to be a Bishop... I will have to take a difficult decision...", but soon he added: "if I had looked for this position, I would be regretful of it, but it has not been my choice, and the Providence, that has put me here, will help me to do my best".


And he faced all the problems with the highest determination as if everything had to depend on him, but with the serenity of that who thinks everything must depend only on the Lord.


Pia Luciani and her daughter Rosa Basso Some day ago, my younger daughter spoke me about a problem regarding a lady we know; I expressed my point of view. Some days later, the lady let me know that my words had been wise and they had helped her very much. Thinking again about what had come spontaneously to my mind, I remembered that, at heart, they were the uncle' s words and I told my daughter so that she remembered him and so that she can have the wish to read about him.


Also today, for that reason, after so many years, his teaching comes to my mind again and I try to follow it, despite my limits and my weaknesses.

Pia Luciani