EXPIRED: 10/25/09 – Camillo Cibin, 83, was known as the Pope’s “guardian angel.”
He was the longtime chief bodyguard of the late Pope John Paul II, and he accompanied him in trips abroad and was nearby during the 1981 attempted assassination of the pontiff by Turkish assailant Mehmet Ali Agca. Once John Paul II had recovered from that attack, having lost three quarters of his blood in the attack, Cibin offered to resign his post, but was gently reassured by the Pope that his trust in him was still complete.
Earlier in John Paul’s papacy, when the pontiff was still athletic, Mr. Cibin accompanied him on hikes through the mountains during summer vacations in the Italian Alps.
Camillo Cibin was one of the most faithful papal servants. Well into his 70’s he remained fit and vital. He had to. John Paul had refused to let him step down, and he stayed on to oversee the transition to a new papal era, accompanying Pope Benedict to Germany in 2005, and then to Poland in May 2006. Then, a week later, on the eve of his 80th birthday, he retired. Thus capped 58 years of a globe-trotting career in the Vatican’s security services.
His discretion was celebrated, although he did once tell a newly appointed cardinal: “Don’t think that it’s all just roses in the Vatican.” He never gave an interview — not even, joked the Vatican press corps, the time of day.