Pope John XXIII; born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, (25 November 1881 – 3 June 1963) reigned as Pope from 28 October 1958 to his death in 1963 and was canonized on 27 April 2014 by Pope Francis
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was the fourth of fourteen children born to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, including papal nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice.
Roncalli was elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. His selection was unexpected, and Roncalli himself had come to Rome with a return train ticket to Venice. Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the first session opening on 11 October 1962. His passionate views on equality were summed up in his famous statement, “We were all made in God’s image, and thus, we are all Godly alike.” John XXIII made many passionate speeches during his pontificate, one of which was on the day that he opened the Second Vatican Council in the middle of the night to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square: “Dear children, returning home, you will find children: give your children a hug and say: This is a hug from the Pope!”
Pope John XXIII did not live to see the Vatican Council to completion. He died of stomach cancer on 3 June 1963, four and a half years after his election and two months after the completion of his final and famed encyclical, Pacem in terris. He was buried in the Vatican grottoes beneath Saint Peter’s Basilica on 6 June 1963 and his cause for canonization was opened on 18 November 1965 by his successor, Pope Paul VI, who declared him a Servant of God. In addition to being named Venerable on 20 December 1999, he was beatified on 3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II alongside Pope Pius IX and three others.
Following his beatification, his body was moved on 3 June 2001 from its original place to the altar of Saint Jerome where it could be seen by the faithful. On 5 July 2013, Pope Francis – bypassing the traditionally required second miracle – declared John XXIII a saint, after unanimous agreement by a consistory, or meeting, of the College of Cardinals, based on the fact that he was considered to have lived a virtuous, model lifestyle, and because of the good for the Church which had come from his having opened the Second Vatican Council. He was canonised alongside Pope Saint John Paul II on 27 April 2014. John XXIII today is affectionately known as the “Good Pope” and in Italian, “il Papa buono”.
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his feast day not on the date of his death (3 June), as is usual, nor his birth, or even on the day of his papal coronation (as is the case with several canonised popes, such as John Paul II) but on 11 October – the day of the first session of the Second Vatican Council. This is understandable, since the Council was his idea and it was he that had convened it. On Thursday, 11 September 2014, Pope Francis added his optional memorial to the worldwide General Roman Calendar of saints’ feast days, in response to global requests.
From the opening address of Pope John XXIII to the Second Vatican Council The loving Church is the mother of all
Today, Venerable Brethren, is a day of joy for Mother Church: through God’s most kindly providence the longed-for day has dawned for the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, here at St. Peter’s shrine. And Mary, God’s Virgin Mother, on this feast day of her noble motherhood, gives it her gracious protection.
Certain it is that the critical issues, the thorny problems that wait upon man’s solution, have remained the same for almost twenty centuries. And why? Because the whole of history and of life hinges on the person of Jesus Christ. Either men anchor themselves on Him and His Church, and thus enjoy the blessings of light and joy, right order and peace; or they live their lives apart from Him; many positively oppose Him, and deliberately exclude themselves from the Church. The result can only be confusion in their lives, bitterness in their relations with one another, and the savage threat of war.
In these days, which mark the beginning of this Second Vatican Council, it is more obvious than ever before that the Lord’s truth is indeed eternal. Human ideologies change. Successive generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as they came, like mist before the sun.
The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations.
Not that the need to repudiate and guard against erroneous teaching and dangerous ideologies is less today than formerly. But all such error is so manifestly contrary to rightness and goodness, and produces such fatal results, that our contemporaries show every inclination to condemn it of their own accord – especially that way of life which repudiates God and His law, and which places excessive confidence in technical progress and an exclusively material prosperity. It is more and more widely understood that personal dignity and true self-realization are of vital importance and worth every effort to achieve. More important still, experience has at long last taught men that physical violence, armed might, and political domination are no help at all in providing a happy solution to the serious problems which affect them.
The great desire, therefore, of the Catholic Church in raising aloft at this Council the torch of truth, is to show herself to the world as the loving mother of all mankind; gentle, patient, and full of tenderness and sympathy for her separated children. To the human race oppressed by so many difficulties, she says what Peter once said to the poor man who begged an alms: “Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, that I give thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk.” In other words it is not corruptible wealth, nor the promise of earthly happiness, that the Church offers the world today, but the gifts of divine grace which, since they raise men up to the dignity of being sons of God, are powerful assistance and support for the living of a more fully human life. She unseals the fountains of her life-giving doctrine, so that men, illumined by the light of Christ, will understand their true nature and dignity and purpose. Everywhere, through her children, she extends the frontiers of Christian love, the most powerful means of eradicating the seeds of discord, the most effective means of promoting concord, peace with justice, and universal brotherhood.
℟. Jesus said to Simon: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.* And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.
℣. God has founded it for ever.* And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.
Let us pray.
Almighty and ever-living God, who in blessed Pope John made a living example of Christ the good shepherd shine out through all the world, grant us, we ask, that by his intercession we may be able to spread with joy the abundance of Christian love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
BIOGRAPHY AND PHOTO SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON ST. POPE JOHN XXIII
TOPIC: HOW CAN YOU BECOME HOLY ACCORDING TO THE ACCIDENTAL SAINT?
We reflect on three ways we can attain holiness according to Pope St. John XXIII.
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