Saints and Theology of the Heart - St. John XXIII

"The Good Pope"

Feast: October 11

See also: The Vatican page on St. John XXIII

St. John Paul II's Homily at the Translation of the Remains of St. John XXIII

St. John XXIII was born with the name Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on November 25th 1881. He had 12 other brothers and sisters, with him being the third oldest. He was tutored by a priest from Carvico and entered seminary at the age of twelve. He received a scholarship and was able to study at the Apollinaris in Rome where he studied under many people including a Church historian, Umberto Benigni. He joined the Italian Army, but after his service, he returned to seminary. He received his doctorate in theology and was ordained a priest in 1904. As he studied canon law, he also served as secretary to the Bishop in Bergamo, where he first attended seminary. During this time, he also taught apologetics, Church history and patrology.

When World War I began in 1915, he was appointed to serve as chaplain in the military. He remained a military chaplain for 3 years and then went on to serve as spiritual director at the seminary. He was appointed to titular archbishop in Areopolis and apostolic visitator of Bulgaria in 1925. From here, he began to observe closely the Eastern churches. In 1934, he went to Turkey and Greece as an apostolic delegate. He had an office in Istanbul to locate prisoners of war. In 1944, he became nuncio in Paris to serve the Church in their post-war efforts. In 1953, he became Cardinal-patriarch in Venice. Finally, when he was called to Rome to participate in the conclave in 1958, he was elected as Pope and took the name of John XXIII.

His first address, he expressed his concern of separated Christians around the world and prayed for world peace. His intent in his papacy was to be a pastoral pope. In 1961, he issued his encyclical, Mater et Magistra. In 1963, he issued Pacem in terris which advocated human order and dignity for world order and peace. He annulled the regular of Sixtus IV, making the College of Cardinals membership 70. He enlarged it over the next four years to be 87. In 1960, he consecrated 14 bishops in Asia, Africa and Oceania. He received the Peace Prize from the International Balzan Foundation in 1962.

After less than three months he held a diocesan synod to convoke an ecumenical council so as to revise Canon Law. This was the first synod ever held in Rome. II Vatican Council was established in 1962 and the commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law was in 1963. He died on June 3rd, 1963 and was well known for his warmth and holiness. He was canonized with St. John Paul II on April 27th, 2014.

Vatican Biography


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