Cardinal Sin i of Genoa, the conservatives' contender for the papacy, caused the Italian cardinals to be deeply divided when they went into the conclave. He had given an interview to a Turin newspaper on the understanding that it would not be published before the conclave.
Cardinal Ski had described the first speech of Pope John Paul I to the cardinals as "insignficant" and said that it was prepared by the Secreariat, not by the Pope himself. The newspaper Gazzetta del Populo carried the interview on the Saturday the conclave opened — some say under pressure from Cardinal Benelli.
Fr Francis X Murphy, a Vaticanologist, said this caused an acrimonious rivalry between the Italians which ensured the election of a non-Italian.
The new Pope rejected the advice of Archbishop Bruno Heim, the Apostolic Delegate over his new coat of arms. The Archbishop worked for nearly 24 hours after the election and presented seven differnt designs to the new Pope.
He told the new Pope he did not advise having an initial on the shield of the new coat of arms. As Archbishop Heim says in his book on heraldry "the practice of using initials is completely opposed to the true heraldic diction and expression and reminds one of a commercial advertisement or trade-mark."
But Pope John Paul H was adamant, and insisted on using the initial "M" for Mary on the shield. He also wanted to have a black cross on dark blue, but was persuaded by archbishop Heim to have gold instead.
The Vatican has approved the design for a 500 lire "interregnum coin" (worth about 30p). One side bears the image of a dove, symbolising the Holy Spirit, while the reverse shows the coat of arms of Cardinal Jean Villot, the papal chamberlain, who took charge of the Vatican during the interregnum.