Kiril Pavlovich Lakota / Pope Kiril I was the primary protagonist from the 1963 novel The Shoes of the Fisherman and the 1968 movie based upon the novel.
As the movie began Lakota was a high ranking Archbishop who had been imprisoned in the Soviet Union. The Soviets tried everything to turn Lakota away from the church, including executing five priests in front of him, but he would not turn. Lakota also stole food at one point to ensure another prisoner who had been badly beaten received live saving nourishment.
Working in Siberia, Lakota was summoned away from job and taken to a meeting with the Soviet Premier Kamenev , who announced that he was being released from the labor camp he had been imprisoned in. Further Kamenev announced that he would be allowed to leave the USSR.
Lakota was flown to Rome, where he was taken to the Vatican and a meeting with the elderly Pope. There despite his pleas that he be given a simple mission the Pope promoted Lakota to the rank of Cardinal.
One of the first duties the new Cardinal Lakota had was to interview a young scientest and theologian named Fr. David Telemond. Telemond had controversial ideas about the nature of Jesus Christ which brought him into conflict with religious authorities. Lakota soon became friends with the unconventional Telemond.
A short time later the Pope collapsed and died. Being a Cardinal, Lakota participated in the following Papal conclave. Lakota invited Telemond to accompany him as his aide in the conclave. In the balloting that followed the Cardinals were unable to decide between Cardinals Leone or Rinaldi. During the evenings the other Cardinals learned more about the newest Cardinal and came away impressed with his ideas and humility. After a seventh ballot was unsuccessful a Cardinal stood up to proclaim that Lakota was his candidate, this was followed by the other members of the College proclaiming Lakota to be their choice for Pope.
Lakota was asked what name he would take for Pope, he responded by saying that he would be known by his own name, Kiril - that it was the name of the Saint who first brought the Gospel to his country. Soon the white smoke began to rise from the chimney over the Sistine Chapel. The crowds were very surprised when Lakota's name was announced, it was the first time in over 400 years that a non-Italian was elected Pope.
After his election the Pope dressed in plain clerical robes and set out to explore Rome as a simple priest. He encountered a Doctor in a troubled marriage with a Rome based journalist and prayed with a Roman Jewish family as a member of their family passed away.
Meanwhile the world was edging closer to war due to a feud between the USSR and the Chinese, a situation exacerbated by a famine in China due to trade restrictions enacted against the country. Kiril went on a secret flight to meet with the Russian and Chinese leaders to discuss the crisis.
Returning to Rome Kiril decided to sell off much of the church's wealth in order to help alleviate the people suffering from the famine. During his coronation he took off his tiara as a sign of humility, and declared that the church's wealth would be used to help others. After a few seconds of uncertainty the people in St. Peter's Square reacted with delight over the answer to the crisis unfolding in the world.
The role of Lakota was played by Anthony Quinn, who had also starred in the title role in the 1961 movie Barabbas.
The Shoes of the Fisherman was later seen as quite prescient, given that ten years after the movie was released the Cardinals would in fact elect the first non-Italian in over 450 years from a country behind the Iron Curtain when they elected the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II.