October 16, 1978, 42 years ago, was a Monday. It was already dark when, at 6.18 p.m., white smoke billowed out from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, after black smoke had risen seven times before.
After a little less than half an hour, at 6:45 p.m., Cardinal proto-deacon Pericles Felici announced the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, under the name of John Paul II, as the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter.
It seemed at first that the 58th Archbishop of Krakow wanted to call himself Stanislaus I in honor of the patron saint of Poland. When it was pointed out to him that it was a name that did not fit into the Roman tradition, Wojtyła chose John Paul in memory of his predecessor, Albino Luciani, who passed away after only 33 days of his Pontificate.