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St. John XXIII

St. John XXIII by Julie Lonneman

Artist Narrative:

Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history. Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church:

"What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness."
—Saint John Paul II

Italy, 1881-1963.

His feast day is October 11.

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John was an Italian peasant. He was educated at Bergamo and the Seminario Romano, Rome. He was ordained in 1904. John was the secretary to the bishop of Bergamo from 1904 to 1914, during which he wrote the basis for his 5-volume biography of St. Charles Borromeo. He served in World War I in the medical corps, and as a chaplain. John worked in Rome after the war, and reorganized the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

John became Archbishop in 1925. He was a Vatican diplomatic representative to Bulgaria, then Turkey, and Greece. He was named papal nuncio to France in 1944 where he mediated between conservative and socially radical clergy. He was a Cardinal and patriarch of Venice in 1953 and was elected pope on 28 October 1958.

As pope, he stressed his own pastoral duties as well as those of other bishops and clergy. Promoted social reforms for workers, poor people, orphans, and the outcast. He advanced cooperation with other religions including Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Church of England, and even Shinto. In April 1959, he forbade Catholics to vote for parties supporting Communism. His encyclical Mater et Magistra of 14 July 1961 advocated social reform, assistance to underdeveloped countries, a living wage for all workers, and support for socialist measures that promised real benefit to society.

He nearly doubled the number of cardinals, making the college the largest in history. On 25 January 1959, he announced his intent to call a council to consider ways to renew the Church in the modern world, promote diversity within the unity of the Church, and consider reforms promoted by ecumenical and liturgical movements. Convening the council, known as Vatican II, on 11 October 1962, was the high point of his reign.

His heartiness, his overflowing love for humanity individually and collectively, and his freshness of approach to ecclesiastical affairs made John one of the best-loved popes of modern times.

Born: 1881 at Sotto il Monte, Italy as Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli

Papal Ascension: 28 October 1958

Papal Canonizations:

1959: Saint Charles of Sezze
1959: Saint Joaquina de Vedruna de Mas
1960: Saint Gregory Barbarigo
1960: Saint John de Ribera
1961: Saint Bertilla Boscardin
1962: Saint Anthony Pucci
1962: Saint Francis Mary of Camporosso
1962: Saint Martin de Porres
1962: Saint Peter Julian Eymard
1963: Saint Vincent Pallotti

Died: 3 June 1963 at Rome, Italy

Beatified: 3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II at Saint Peter's Square, Rome

Reading:

Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times.

The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness."
—Saint John Paul II