The Last Confession, by Roger Crane.  Performed by Great Hall Players in October 2011.   The Last Confession is a stage play by Roger Crane based around the election and death of Pope John Paul I. The play follows Giovanni Benelli who recounts, during his last confession, his role in the death of John Paul and how this led him to lose his faith.


Disturbed by the corruption in Vatican City, caused mainly by Paul Marcinkus and Jean-Marie Villot, Benelli attempts to manipulate the August 1978 conclave and elect Albino Luciani as Pope. The plan succeeds and Luciani becomes Pope John Paul I but his unconventional views and actions make him enemies in the Curia.

Just thirty three days into his reign, John Paul dies suddenly and Benelli investigates the death, suspecting the Pope was murdered. Realising that a request for an autopsy would damage the church, Benelli decides to end the investigation and tries to become Pope himself. This time his efforts to manipulate the conclave fail and a compromise candidate, Karol Wojtyła, is elected Pope, better known to most as Pope John Paul II.

The above is thanks to Wikipedia

The play was premiered at the Chichester Festival in 2007, with David Suchet (Poirot etc) taking the role of Cardinal Benelli.

John Paul’s reign, if reign is the correct word for the character in the play takes deliberate steps to distance him being seen upon as Royal eschewing the traditional Papal Coronation, was the shortest on record for a Pope at just 33 days.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories about the death, as during his short term in office, whilst his popularity with the public was high, he had made some enemies within the higher echelons of the Catholic Church.

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