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Cardinal Lamberto

Cardinal Lamberto
Cardinal Lamberto, as portrayed by Raf Vallone in The Godfather Part III.
First appearanceThe Godfather Part III
Created byMario Puzo
Portrayed byRaf Vallone
AliasJohn Paul I
OccupationCardinal in the Roman Catholic Church and later the Pontiff

Cardinal Lamberto is a fictional character appearing in The Godfather Part III. He is portrayed by Italian actor Raf Vallone.[1][2][3]

In the film

Lamberto is the cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church favoured to succeed Pope Paul VI. He is visited by Michael Corleone on the advice of Don Tommasino. Michael tells him of the swindle at the hands of corrupt Vatican bank officials Frederick Keinszig, Licio Lucchesi, and Archbishop Gilday. Lamberto encourages Michael to confess his sins; initially reluctant, he eventually does so under the Cardinal's gentle prodding; breaking down in tears when confessing his ordering of the murder of his brother Fredo. Upon the conclusion of the confession, Lamberto tells Michael that he deserves to suffer for his terrible sins, yet absolves him and tells him he still has a chance for redemption.

Upon the death of Paul VI, Lamberto is elected the new pontiff; he takes the name John Paul I upon his accession. A moral, thoroughly honest man, he immediately calls for an investigation into the activities of the Vatican Bank and requests a meeting with Keinszig, the Bank's chief accountant. However, Keinszig has left Rome with a large sum of money and several documents. Fearing that their corruption will be exposed, Keinszig, Lucchesi, and Gilday plot to murder the Pope. Gilday poisons the pontiff's tea, killing him in his sleep.


The character of Lamberto and the film's depiction of the events which led to his murder are based upon one of the conspiracy theories surrounding the sudden death of the real-life Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani. Like the Lamberto character, Luciani was discovered dead in his bed in 1978, 33 days after his election to the papacy. Various theories, such as the one outlined in David Yallop's 1984 book, In God's Name, have suggested that Luciani was murdered because he was investigating and planning reforms for the Vatican Bank, in light of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal.[4]


  1. ^ "Cardinal Lamberto (Character)". IMDb.
  2. ^ "The Godfather, Part III (1990)". Retrieved 2014-06-24.
  3. ^ Phillips, Gene D. (2013). Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola. University Press of Kentucky. p. 136. ISBN 9780813146713. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal (2017). Any Resemblance to Actual Persons: The Real People Behind 400+ Fictional Movie Characters. McFarland. p. 17. ISBN 9781476629308. Retrieved 1 June 2019.

External links