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Camillo Cibin, bodyguard to Pope John Paul II; at 83

Camillo Cibin, center, also served as a bodyguard for Pope Benedict XVI. He retired in 2006 after a 58-year career. Camillo Cibin, center, also served as a bodyguard for Pope Benedict XVI. He retired in 2006 after a 58-year career. (Massimo Sambucetti/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / October 26, 2009

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ROME - The longtime chief bodyguard of the late Pope John Paul II, who accompanied him in trips abroad and was nearby during the 1981 attempted assassination of the pontiff, has died in Rome at 83.

Camillo Cibin was one of the most faithful papal servants. In 2006, he retired as head of the papal bodyguards after a 58-year globe-trotting career in the Vatican’s security services.

Mr. Cibin died yesterday morning at the Pius XI clinic in Rome, Vatican Radio said. No cause of death was given.

Mr. Cibin was often was seen running alongside vehicles to protect the pontiff in John Paul’s 104 pilgrimages abroad. He was also nearby when, on May 13, 1981, a Turkish gunman shot John Paul in St. Peter’s Square.

In 2005, a white-haired Mr. Cibin kept pace alongside John Paul’s vehicle as it carried the pontiff on his last journey home to the Vatican from Gemelli Polyclinic, where he had been hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, John Paul died in his papal apartment.

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.

Mr. Cibin’s duties also included directing security during the 1962-65 Vatican Council II, which drew cardinals from around the world and set in motion modernizing reforms of the Church.