SAINT JOHN XXIII, POPE
FEAST DAY – 11th OCTOBER
Pope Saint John XXIII, who lived from 1881 – 1963, was born Angelo Roncalli into a large, humble, rural family in a mountainous region of Northern Italy. He entered the local minor seminary at the age of eleven. His simple, farm background, stellar education, profound life of prayer, and total immersion in the rich Catholic life and history of his native region molded him into a great man.
After his ordination, Father Angelo became secretary to his bishop, a saintly and pastoral prelate for almost ten years. Father Roncalli also edited a monthly journal, taught theology and history in the seminary, gave priestly guidance to various groups, and served as an army medic and military chaplain during World War I. His engaging personality and deep wisdom left a deep impression of an outstanding priest.
In 1921 the Pope called him to Rome to serve the universal church in various roles, including as the Vatican representative in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece, and then as the Apostolic Nuncio to Paris near the end of WWII and beyond. In 1953 he was made a Cardinal and the Patriarch of Venice, and thus returned to some of the direct pastoral duties he loved and which had been so reduced during his long administrative service to the Church.
In October 1958 his accumulated knowledge and experience were placed at the service of the universal Church, when at the age of seventy-six he was elected pope. He surprised the world soon afterward by calling for an Ecumenical Council, the meeting of all the world’s bishops that became known as Vatican II. As pope, he published some important social encyclicals, conducted theological debates of the Council, and then died in 1963, after reigning for only four and a half years.
From the age of fourteen, John XXIII had kept a spiritual journal he allowed to be posthumously published as Journal of a Soul. It reveals a trusting soul with a deep love of Jesus Christ and the Church, a man aware of all the major currents of culture. John XXIII was canonized on the same day as Pope Saint John Paul II on April 27, 2014. His feast day is the date of the opening session of Vatican II in 1962. His largely incorrupt body is visible to the faithful in a glass coffin in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He is Patron Saint of papal delegates.
Heavenly Father, your loyal and humble servant, Pope Saint John XXIII, led a long life of dedicated and selfless service to the Church and to her faithful. May he be an example for all priests and bishops. May they see in him an example of the Good Shepherd who cares for his flock with wisdom and tenderness.
His loving trust of Jesus helped him to remain rooted in faith and hope, belief and good works to the Universal Church, and his reforms were efforts to gain the solidarity of the religious authorities from around the globe, to form a more faithful community of Christ’s followers. We thank you Lord, for this, your loyal follower’s guidance of your flock, in Jesus’ Name. Amen
Pope Saint John XXIII, pray for us all.
Vocation Prayer of Pope St. John XXIII:
O Jesus, send laborers into your fields, which are awaiting holy apostles, saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers. Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation. Grant that Christian families may desire to give to your Church helpers in the work of tomorrow. Amen.
Mary Mother of us all with Pope St. John XXIII intercede for us to the Lord of the harvest for many holy vocations. Hail Mary x 1.