Pope John XXIII
John XXIII in 1959
|Papacy began||28 October 1958|
|Papacy ended||3 June 1963|
10 August 1904|
by Giuseppe Ceppetelli
19 March 1925|
by Giovanni Tacci Porcelli
12 January 1953|
by Pius XII
|Birth name||Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli|
25 November 1881|
Sotto il Monte, Bergamo, Kingdom of Italy
3 June 1963 81) (aged|
Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
|Motto||Obedientia et Pax (Obedience and Peace)|
|Coat of arms|
3 September 2000|
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope John Paul II
27 April 2014|
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope Francis
|Other popes named John|
Pope Saint John XXIII (Latin: Ioannes XXIII; Italian: Giovanni XXIII; born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Italian pronunciation: [ˈandʒelo dʒuˈzɛppe roŋˈkalli]; 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. 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. He was the first pope to take the pontifical name of "John" upon election in more than 500 years, and his choice settled the complicated question of official numbering attached to this papal name due to the antipope of this name. Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–65), 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 even on the day of his papal inauguration (as is sometimes done with popes who are saints, such as with John Paul II) but on 11 October, the day of the first session of the Second Vatican Council. This is understandable, since he was the one who had had the idea for it and 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. He is commemorated on the date of his death, 3 June, by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and on the following day, 4 June, by the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church (United States).
Early life and ordination
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born on 25 November 1881 in Sotto il Monte, a small country village in the Bergamo province of the Lombardy region of Italy. He was the eldest son of Giovanni Battista Roncalli (1854 – July 1935) and his wife Marianna Giulia Mazzolla (1855 – 20 February 1939), and fourth in a family of 13. His siblings were:
- Maria Caterina (1877–1883)
- Teresa (1879–1954)
- Ancilla (1880 – 11 November 1953)
- Francesco Zaverio (1883–1976)
- Maria Elisa (1884–1955)
- Assunta Casilda (Marchesi) (1886 – 23 March 1980)
- Domenico Giuseppe (22 February 1888 – 14 March 1888)
- Alfredo (1889–1972)
- Giovanni Francesco (1891–1956)
- Enrica (1893–1918)
- Giuseppe Luigi (1894–??)
- Luigi (1896–1898)
His family worked as sharecroppers, as did most of the people of Sotto il Monte – a striking contrast to that of his predecessor, Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), who came from an ancient aristocratic family, long connected to the Papacy. However, he was still a descendant of an Italian noble family, from a secondary and impoverished branch. In 1889, Roncalli received both his first Communion and Confirmation at the age of 8.
On 1 March 1896, the spiritual director of his seminary (Luigi Isacchi) enrolled him into the Secular Franciscan Order. He professed his vows as a member of that order on 23 May 1897.
In 1904, Roncalli completed his doctorate in theology and was ordained a priest in the Catholic Church of Santa Maria in Monte Santo in Piazza del Popolo in Rome on 10 August. Shortly after that, while still in Rome, Roncalli was taken to Saint Peter's Basilica to meet Pope Pius X. After this, he would return to his town to celebrate mass for the Assumption.
In 1905, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi, the new Bishop of Bergamo, appointed Roncalli as his secretary. Roncalli worked for Radini-Tedeschi until the bishop's death on 22 August 1914, two days after the death of Pope Pius X. Radini-Tedeschi's last words to Roncalli were "Angelo, pray for peace". The death of Radini-Tedeschi had a deep effect on Roncalli. During this period Roncalli was also a lecturer in the diocesan seminary in Bergamo.
During World War I, Roncalli was drafted into the Royal Italian Army as a sergeant, serving in the medical corps as a stretcher-bearer and as a chaplain. After being discharged from the army in early 1919, he was named spiritual director of the seminary.
On 6 November 1921, Roncalli travelled to Rome where he was scheduled to meet with the pope. After their meeting, Pope Benedict XV appointed him as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Roncalli would recall Benedict XV as being the most sympathetic of the popes he had met.
In February 1925, the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri summoned him to the Vatican and informed him of Pope Pius XI's decision to appoint him as the Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria (1925–35). On 3 March, Pius XI also named him for consecration as titular archbishop of Areopolis, Jordan. Roncalli was initially reluctant about a mission to Bulgaria, but he would soon relent. His nomination as apostolic visitor was made official on 19 March. Roncalli was consecrated by Giovanni Tacci Porcelli in the church of San Carlo alla Corso in Rome. After he was consecrated, he introduced his family to Pope Pius XI. He chose as his episcopal motto Obedientia et Pax ("Obedience and Peace"), which became his guiding motto. While he was in Bulgaria, an earthquake struck in a town not too far from where he was. Unaffected, he wrote to his sisters Ancilla and Maria and told them both that he was fine.
On 30 November 1934, he was appointed Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece and titular archbishop of Mesembria, Bulgaria. Thus, he is known as "the Turcophile Pope," by the Turkish society which is predominantly Muslim. Roncalli took up this post in 1935 and used his office to help the Jewish underground in saving thousands of refugees in Europe, leading some to consider him to be a Righteous Gentile (see Pope John XXIII and Judaism). In October 1935, he led Bulgarian pilgrims to Rome and introduced them to Pope Pius XI on 14 October.
In February 1939, he received news from his sisters that his mother was dying. On 10 February 1939, Pope Pius XI died. Roncalli was unable to see his mother for the end as the death of a pontiff meant that he would have to stay at his post until the election of a new pontiff. Unfortunately, she died on 20 February 1939, during the nine days of mourning for the late Pius XI. He was sent a letter by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, and Roncalli later recalled that it was probably the last letter Pacelli sent until his election as Pope Pius XII on 2 March 1939. Roncalli expressed happiness that Pacelli was elected, and, on radio, listened to the coronation of the new pontiff.
Roncalli remained in Bulgaria at the time that World War II commenced, optimistically writing in his journal in April 1939, "I don't believe we will have a war". At the time that the war did in fact commence, he was in Rome, meeting with Pope Pius XII on 5 September 1939. In 1940, Roncalli was asked by the Vatican to devote more of his time to Greece; therefore, he made several visits there in January and May that year.
On 22 December 1944, during World War II, Pope Pius XII named him to be the new Apostolic Nuncio to recently liberated France. In this capacity he had to negotiate the retirement of bishops who had collaborated with the German occupying power.
Roncalli was chosen among several other candidates, one of whom was Archbishop Joseph Fietta. Roncalli met with Domenico Tardini to discuss his new appointment, and their conversation suggested that Tardini did not approve of it. One curial prelate referred to Roncalli as an "old fogey" while speaking with a journalist.
Roncalli left Ankara on 27 December 1944 on a series of short-haul flights that took him to several places, such as Beirut, Cairo and Naples. He ventured to Rome on 28 December and met with both Tardini and his friend Giovanni Battista Montini. He left for France the next day to commence his newest role.
Efforts during the Holocaust
- Delivery of "immigration certificates" to Palestine through the Nunciature diplomatic courier.
- Rescue of Jews by means of certificates of "baptism of convenience" sent by Monsignor Roncalli to priests in Europe.
- Slovakian children managed to leave the country due to his interventions.
- Jewish refugees whose names were included on a list submitted by Rabbi Markus of Istanbul to Nuncio Roncalli.
- Jews held at Jasenovac concentration camp, near Stara Gradiška, were liberated as a result of his intervention.
- Bulgarian Jews who left Bulgaria, a result of his request to King Boris III of Bulgaria.
- Romanian Jews from Transnistria left Romania as a result of his intervention.
- Italian Jews helped by the Vatican as a result of his interventions.
- Orphaned children of Transnistria on board a refugee ship that weighed anchor from Constanța to Istanbul, and later arriving in Palestine as a result of his interventions.
- Jews held at the Sered concentration camp who were spared from being deported to German death camps as a result of his intervention.
- Hungarian Jews who saved themselves through their conversions to Christianity through the baptismal certificates sent by Nuncio Roncalli to the Hungarian Nuncio, Monsignor Angelo Rota.
In 1965, the Catholic Herald newspaper quoted Pope John XXIII as saying:
We are conscious today that many, many centuries of blindness have cloaked our eyes so that we can no longer see the beauty of Thy chosen people nor recognise in their faces the features of our privileged brethren. We realize that the mark of Cain stands upon our foreheads. Across the centuries our brother Abel has lain in blood which we drew, or shed tears we caused by forgetting Thy love. Forgive us for the curse we falsely attached to their name as Jews. Forgive us for crucifying Thee a second time in their flesh. For we know not what we did.
On 7 September 2000, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation launched the International Campaign for the Acknowledgement of the humanitarian actions undertaken by Vatican Nuncio Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli for people, most of whom were Jewish, persecuted by the Nazi regime. The launching took place at the Permanent Observation Mission of the Vatican to the United Nations, in the presence of Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has carried out exhaustive historical research related to different events connected with interventions of Nuncio Roncalli in favour of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Until now, three reports have been published compiling different studies and materials of historical research about the humanitarian actions carried out by Roncalli when he was nuncio.
In 2011, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation submitted a massive file (the Roncalli Dossier) to Yad Vashem, with a strong petition and recommendation to bestow upon him the title of Righteous among the Nations.
Roncalli received a message from Mgr. Montini on 14 November 1952 asking him if he would want to become the new Patriarch of Venice in light of the nearing death of Carlo Agostini. Furthermore, Montini said to him via letter on 29 November 1952 that Pius XII had decided to raise him to the cardinalate. Roncalli knew that he would be appointed to lead the patriarchy of Venice due to the death of Agostini, who was also to be raised to the rank of cardinal.
On 12 January 1953, he was appointed Patriarch of Venice and, accordingly, raised to the rank of Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca by Pope Pius XII. Roncalli left France for Venice on 23 February 1953 stopping briefly in Milan and then to Rome. On 15 March 1953, he took possession of his new diocese in Venice. As a sign of his esteem, the President of France, Vincent Auriol, claimed the ancient privilege possessed by French monarchs and bestowed the red biretta on Roncalli at a ceremony in the Élysée Palace. It was around this time that he, with the aid of Monsignor Bruno Heim, formed his coat of arms with a lion of Saint Mark on a white ground. Auriol also awarded Roncalli three months later with the award of Commander of the Legion of Honour.
Roncalli decided to live on the second floor of the residence reserved for the patriarch, choosing not to live in the first floor room once resided in by Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, who later became Pope Pius X. On 29 May 1954, the late Pius X was canonized and Roncalli ensured that the late pontiff's patriarchal room was remodelled into a 1903 (the year of the new saint's papal election) look in his honor. With Pius X's few surviving relatives, Roncalli celebrated a mass in his honor.
His sister Ancilla would soon be diagnosed with stomach cancer in the early 1950s. Roncalli's last letter to her was dated on 8 November 1953 where he promised to visit her within the next week. He could not keep that promise, as Ancilla died on 11 November 1953 at the time when he was consecrating a new church in Venice. He attended her funeral back in his hometown. In his will around this time, he mentioned that he wished to be buried in the crypt of Saint Mark's in Venice with some of his predecessors rather than with the family in Sotto il Monte.
|Papal styles of|
Pope John XXIII
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
|Ordination history of Pope John XXIII|
|Ordained by||Giuseppe Ceppetelli|
|Date of ordination||10 August 1904|
|Place of ordination||Santa Maria in Monte Santo in Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Italy|
|Principal consecrator||Giovanni Tacci Card. Porcelli|
Francesco Marchetti Selvaggiani
|Date of consecration||19 March 1925|
|Place of consecration||San Carlo alla Corso, Rome, Italy|
|Elevated by||Pope Pius XII|
|Date of elevation||12 January 1953|
|Antonio Gregorio Vuccino||25 July 1937|
|Alfredo Pacini||11 June 1946|
|Silvio Angelo Pio Oddi||27 September 1953|
|Angelo Dell'Acqua||27 December 1958|
|Pope John Paul I||27 December 1958|
|Domenico Tardini||27 December 1958|
|James Hagan||8 May 1960|
|Pericle Felici||28 October 1960|
|Alfredo Ottaviani||19 April 1962|
|Alberto di Jorio||19 April 1962|
|Augustin Bea||19 April 1962|
|Enrico Dante||21 September 1962|
|Pietro Palazzini||21 September 1962|
|Paul-Pierre Philippe||21 September 1962|
Following the death of Pope Pius XII on 9 October 1958, Roncalli watched the live funeral on his last full day in Venice on 11 October. His journal was specifically concerned with the funeral and the abused state of the late pontiff's corpse. Roncalli left Venice for the conclave in Rome well aware that he was papabile, and after eleven ballots, was elected to succeed the late Pius XII, so it came as no surprise to him, though he had arrived at the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice.
Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, the Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although he was the archbishop of one of the most ancient and prominent sees in Italy, he had not yet been made a cardinal. Though his absence from the 1958 conclave did not make him ineligible – under Canon Law any Catholic male who is capable of receiving priestly ordination and episcopal consecration may be elected – the College of Cardinals usually chose the new pontiff from among the Cardinals who head archdioceses or departments of the Roman Curia that attend the papal conclave. At the time, as opposed to contemporary practice, the participating Cardinals did not have to be below age 80 to vote, there were few Eastern-rite Cardinals, and some Cardinals were just priests at the time of their elevation.
Roncalli was summoned to the final ballot of the conclave at 4:00 pm. He was elected pope at 4:30 pm with a total of 38 votes. After the long pontificate of Pope Pius XII, the cardinals chose a man who – it was presumed because of his advanced age – would be a short-term or "stop-gap" pope. They wished to choose a candidate who would do little during the new pontificate. Upon his election, Cardinal Eugene Tisserant asked him the ritual questions of whether he would accept and if so, what name he would take for himself. Roncalli gave the first of his many surprises when he chose "John" as his regnal name. Roncalli's exact words were "I will be called John". This was the first time in over 500 years that this name had been chosen; previous popes had avoided its use since the time of the Antipope John XXIII during the Western Schism several centuries before.
On the choice of his papal name, Pope John XXIII said to the cardinals:
I choose John... a name sweet to us because it is the name of our father, dear to me because it is the name of the humble parish church where I was baptized, the solemn name of numberless cathedrals scattered throughout the world, including our own basilica [St. John Lateran]. Twenty-two Johns of indisputable legitimacy have [been Pope], and almost all had a brief pontificate. We have preferred to hide the smallness of our name behind this magnificent succession of Roman Popes.
Upon his choosing the name, there was some confusion as to whether he would be known as John XXIII or John XXIV; in response, he declared that he was John XXIII, thus affirming the antipapal status of antipope John XXIII.
Before this antipope, the most recent popes called John were John XXII (1316–34) and John XXI (1276–77). However, there was no Pope John XX, owing to confusion caused by medieval historians misreading the Liber Pontificalis to refer to another Pope John between John XIV and John XV.
After his election, he confided in Cardinal Maurice Feltin that he had chosen the name "in memory of France and in the memory of John XXII who continued the history of the papacy in France".
After he answered the two ritual questions, the traditional Habemus Papam announcement was delivered by Cardinal Nicola Canali to the people at 6:08 pm, an exact hour after the white smoke appeared. A short while later, he appeared on the balcony and gave his first Urbi et Orbi blessing to the crowds of the faithful below in Saint Peter's Square. That same night, he appointed Domenico Tardini as his Secretary of State.
His coronation took place on 4 November 1958, on the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, and it occurred on the central loggia of the Vatican. He was crowned with the 1877 Palatine Tiara. His coronation ran for the traditional five hours.
Visits around Rome
On 25 December 1958, he became the first pope since 1870 to make pastoral visits in his Diocese of Rome, when he visited children infected with polio at the Bambino Gesù Hospital and then visited Santo Spirito Hospital. The following day, he visited Rome's Regina Coeli prison, where he told the inmates: "You could not come to me, so I came to you." These acts created a sensation, and he wrote in his diary:
...great astonishment in the Roman, Italian and international press. I was hemmed in on all sides: authorities, photographers, prisoners, wardens...
During these visits, John XXIII put aside the normal papal use of the formal "we" when referring to himself, such as when he visited a reformatory school for juvenile delinquents in Rome telling them "I have wanted to come here for some time". The media noticed this and reported that "He talked to the youths in their own language".
His frequent habit of sneaking out of the Vatican late at night to walk the streets of the city of Rome earned him the nickname of "Johnny Walker", a pun on the whisky brand name.
Relations with Jews
One of the first acts of Pope John XXIII, in 1960, was to eliminate the description of Jews as perfidius (Latin for "perfidious" or "faithless") in the prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy. He interrupted the first Good Friday liturgy in his pontificate to address this issue when he first heard a celebrant refer to the Jews with that word. He also made a confession for the Church of the sin of anti-semitism through the centuries.
While Vatican II was being held, John XXIII tasked Cardinal Augustin Bea with the creation of several important documents that pertained to reconciliation with Jewish people.
Calling the Council
Far from being a mere "stopgap" pope, to great excitement, John XXIII called for an ecumenical council fewer than ninety years after the First Vatican Council (Vatican I's predecessor, the Council of Trent, had been held in the 16th century). This decision was announced on 29 January 1959 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI, remarked to Giulio Bevilacqua that "this holy old boy doesn't realise what a hornet's nest he's stirring up". From the Second Vatican Council came changes that reshaped the face of Catholicism: a comprehensively revised liturgy, a stronger emphasis on ecumenism, and a new approach to the world.
Prior to the first session of the council, John XXIII visited Assisi and Loreto on 4 October 1962 to pray for the new upcoming council as well as to mark the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He was the first pope to travel outside of Rome since Pope Pius IX. Along the way, there were several halts at Orte, Narni, Terni, Spoleto, Foligno, Fabriano, Iesi, Falconara and Ancona where the crowds greeted him.
In 1963, John XXIII established a commission of six non-theologians to investigate questions of birth control.
John XXIII was an advocate for human rights which included the unborn and the elderly. He wrote about human rights in his Pacem in terris. He wrote, "Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood."
In regards to the topic of divorce, John XXIII said that human life is transmitted through the family which is founded on the sacrament of marriage and is both one and indissoluble as a union in God, therefore, it is against the teachings of the church for a married couple to get a divorce.
Pope John XXIII and papal ceremonial
Pope John XXIII was the last pope to use full papal ceremony, some of which was abolished after Vatican II, while the rest fell into disuse. His papal coronation ran for the traditional five hours (Pope Paul VI, by contrast, opted for a shorter ceremony, while later popes declined to be crowned). Pope John XXIII, like his predecessor Pius XII, chose to have the coronation itself take place on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, in view of the crowds assembled in Saint Peter's Square below.
He wore a number of papal tiaras during his papacy. On the most formal of occasions would he don the 1877 Palatine tiara he received at his coronation, but on other occasions, he used the 1922 tiara of Pope Pius XI, which was used so often that it was associated with him quite strongly. Like those before him, he was bestowed with an expensive silver tiara by the people of Bergamo. John XXIII requested that the number of jewels used be halved and that the money be given to the poor.
Maintaining continuity with his predecessors, John XXIII continued the gradual reform of the Roman liturgy, and published changes that resulted in the 1962 Roman Missal, the last typical edition containing the Tridentine Mass established in 1570 by Pope Pius V at the request of the Council of Trent and whose continued use Pope Benedict XVI authorized in 2007, under the conditions indicated in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. In response to the directives of the Second Vatican Council, later editions of the Roman Missal present the 1970 form of the Roman Rite.
Beatifications and canonization ceremonies
He also canonized a small number of individuals: he canonized Charles of Sezze and Joaquina Vedruna de Mas on 12 April 1959, Gregorio Barbarigo on 26 May 1960, Juan de Ribera on 12 June 1960, Maria Bertilla Boscardin on 11 May 1961, Martin de Porres on 6 May 1962, and Antonio Maria Pucci, Francis Mary of Camporosso and Peter Julian Eymard on 9 December 1962. His final canonization was that of Vincent Pallotti on 20 January 1963.
Vatican II: The first session
On 11 October 1962, the first session of the Second Vatican Council was held in the Vatican. He gave the Gaudet Mater Ecclesia speech, which served as the opening address for the council. The day was basically electing members for several council commissions that would work on the issues presented in the council. On that same night following the conclusion of the first session, the people in Saint Peter's Square chanted and yelled with the sole objective of getting John XXIII to appear at the window to address them.
Pope John XXIII did indeed appear at the window and delivered a speech to the people below, and told them to return home and hug their children, telling them that it came from the pope. This speech would later become known as the so-called 'Speech of the Moon'.
The first session ended in a solemn ceremony on 8 December 1962 with the next session scheduled to occur in 1963 from 12 May to 29 June – this was announced on 12 November 1962. John XXIII's closing speech made subtle references to Pope Pius IX, and he had expressed the desire to see Pius IX beatified and eventually canonized. In his journal in 1959 during a spiritual retreat, John XXIII made this remark: "I always think of Pius IX of holy and glorious memory, and by imitating him in his sacrifices, I would like to be worthy to celebrate his canonization".
Final months and death
On 23 September 1962, Pope John XXIII was first diagnosed with stomach cancer. The diagnosis, which was kept from the public, followed nearly eight months of occasional stomach hemorrhages, and reduced the pontiff's appearances. Looking pale and drawn during these events, he gave a hint to his ultimate fate in April 1963, when he said to visitors, "That which happens to all men perhaps will happen soon to the Pope who speaks to you today."
Pope John XXIII offered to mediate between US President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Both men applauded the pope for his deep commitment to peace. Khrushchev would later send a message via Norman Cousins and the letter expressed his best wishes for the pontiff's ailing health. John XXIII personally typed and sent a message back to him, thanking him for his letter. Cousins, meanwhile, travelled to New York City and ensured that John would become Time magazine's 'Man of the Year'. John XXIII became the first Pope to receive the title, followed by John Paul II in 1994 and Francis in 2013.
On 10 February 1963, John XXIII officially opened the process of beatification for the late Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, formerly the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. This conferred upon him the title of Servant of God.
On 7 March 1963, the feast of the University's patron Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pope John XXIII visited the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum and with the motu proprio Dominicanus Ordo, raised the Angelicum to the rank of Pontifical University. Thereafter it would be known as the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the City.
On 10 May 1963, John XXIII received the Balzan Prize in private at the Vatican but deflected achievements of himself to the five popes of his lifetime, Pope Leo XIII to Pius XII. On 11 May, the Italian President Antonio Segni officially awarded Pope John XXIII with the Balzan Prize for his engagement for peace. While in the car en route to the official ceremony, he suffered great stomach pains but insisted on meeting with Segni to receive the award in the Quirinal Palace, refusing to do so within the Vatican. He stated that it would have been an insult to honour a pontiff on the remains of the crucified Saint Peter. It was the pope's last public appearance.
On 25 May 1963, the pope suffered another haemorrhage and required several blood transfusions, but the cancer had perforated the stomach wall and peritonitis soon set in. The doctors conferred in a decision regarding this matter and John XXIII's aide Loris F. Capovilla broke the news to him saying that the cancer had done its work and nothing could be done for him. Around this time, his remaining siblings arrived to be with him. By 31 May, it had become clear that the cancer had overcome the resistance of John XXIII – it had left him confined to his bed.
"At 11 am Petrus Canisius Van Lierde as Papal Sacristan was at the bedside of the dying pope, ready to anoint him. The pope began to speak for the very last time: "I had the great grace to be born into a Christian family, modest and poor, but with the fear of the Lord. My time on earth is drawing to a close. But Christ lives on and continues his work in the Church. Souls, souls, ut omnes unum sint." Van Lierde then anointed his eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet. Overcome by emotion, Van Lierde forgot the right order of anointing. John XXIII gently helped him before bidding those present a last farewell.
John XXIII died of peritonitis caused by a perforated stomach at 19:49 local time on 3 June 1963 at the age of 81, ending a historic pontificate of four years and seven months. He died just as a Mass for him finished in Saint Peter's Square below, celebrated by Luigi Traglia. After he died, his brow was ritually tapped to see if he was dead, and those with him in the room said prayers. Then the room was illuminated, thus informing the people of what had happened. He was buried on 6 June in the Vatican grottos. Two wreaths, placed on the two sides of his tomb, were donated by the prisoners of the Regina Coeli prison and the Mantova jail in Verona. On 22 June 1963, one day after his friend and successor Pope Paul VI was elected, the latter prayed at his tomb.
On 3 December 1963, US President Lyndon B. Johnson posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award, in recognition of the good relationship between Pope John XXIII and the United States of America. In his speech on 6 December 1963, Johnson said: "I have also determined to confer the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously on another noble man whose death we mourned 6 months ago: His Holiness, Pope John XXIII. He was a man of simple origins, of simple faith, of simple charity. In this exalted office he was still the gentle pastor. He believed in discussion and persuasion. He profoundly respected the dignity of man. He gave the world immortal statements of the rights of man, of the obligations of men to each other, of their duty to strive for a world community in which all can live in peace and fraternal friendship. His goodness reached across temporal boundaries to warm the hearts of men of all nations and of all faiths".
The citation for the medal reads:
His Holiness Pope John XXIII, dedicated servant of God. He brought to all citizens of the planet a heightened sense of the dignity of the individual, of the brotherhood of man, and of the common duty to build an environment of peace for all human kind.
Beatification and canonization
He was known affectionately as "Good Pope John". His cause for canonization was opened under Pope Paul VI during the final session of the Second Vatican Council on 18 November 1965, along with the cause of Pope Pius XII. On 3 September 2000, John XXIII was declared "Blessed" alongside Pope Pius IX by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood after a miracle of curing an ill woman was discovered. He was the first pope since Pope Pius X to receive this honour. Following his beatification, his body was moved from its original burial place in the grottoes below the Vatican to the altar of St. Jerome and displayed for the veneration of the faithful.
At the time, the body was observed to be extremely well preserved—a condition which the Church ascribes to embalming and the lack of air flow in his sealed triple coffin rather than a miracle. When John XXIII's body was moved in 2001, the original vault above the floor was removed and a new one built beneath the ground; it was here that the body of Pope John Paul II was entombed from 9 April 2005 to April 2011, before being moved for his beatification on 1 May 2011.
The 50th anniversary of his death was celebrated on 3 June 2013 by Pope Francis, who visited his tomb and prayed there, then addressing the gathered crowd and spoke about the late pope. The people that gathered there at the tomb were from Bergamo, the province where the late pope came from. A month later, on 5 July 2013, Francis approved Pope John XXIII for canonization, along with Pope John Paul II without the traditional second miracle required. Instead, Francis based this decision on John XXIII's merits for the Second Vatican Council. On Sunday, 27 April 2014, John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were declared saints on Divine Mercy Sunday.
The date assigned for the liturgical celebration of John XXIII is not 3 June, the anniversary of his death as would be usual, but 11 October, the anniversary of his opening of the Second Vatican Council. He is also commemorated in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and some other organizations with a feast day of 4 June, changed originally from 3 June.
From his teens when he entered the seminary, he maintained a diary of spiritual reflections that was subsequently published as the Journal of a Soul. The collection of writings charts Roncalli's goals and his efforts as a young man to "grow in holiness" and continues after his election to the papacy; it remains widely read.
John XXIII College (Perth) in Western Australia, is a Catholic school named after John XXIII, and the Catholic Learning Community of John XXIII, a primary school in Sydney. There are also Roncalli High Schools in Indianapolis, Indiana and Aberdeen, South Dakota & Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
- Cardinals created by John XXIII
- Central Preparatory Commission
- Eastern Catholic Churches
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- List of Catholic saints
- List of encyclicals of Pope John XXIII
- List of meetings between the Pope and the President of the United States
- List of popes
- List of Righteous among the Nations by country
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On 8 March 1963, Pope Giovanni XXIII came to the Angelicum to celebrate the passage from Ateneo Angelicum to University: Pontificia Universitas Studiorum Sancti Tomae Aquinatis in Urbe.
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|Catholic Church titles|
|Apostolic Nuncio to France
23 December 1944 – 12 January 1953
| Succeeded by|
|Patriarch of Venice
15 January 1953 – 28 October 1958
| Succeeded by|
28 October 1958 – 3 June 1963
| Succeeded by|