Skip to content

St. John XXIII

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. John XXIII

Facts

Feastday: October 11
Patron of Papal delegates, Patriarchy of Venice, Second Vatican Council
Birth: 1881
Death: 1963
Beatified By: 3 September 2000 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: 27 April 2014 Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis

The man who would be Pope John XXIII was born in the small village of Sotto il Monte in Italy, on November 25, 1881. He was the fourth of fourteen children born to poor parents who made their living by sharecropping. Named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the baby would eventually become one of the most influential popes in recent history, changing the Church forever.

Roncalli's career within the Church began in 1904 when he graduated from university with a doctorate in theology. He was ordained a priest thereafter and soon met Pope Pius X in Rome.

By the following year, 1905, Roncalli was appointed to act as secretary for his bishop, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi. He continued working as the bishop's secretary until the bishop died in August 1914. The bishop's last words to Roncalli were, "Pray for peace."

Such words mattered in August 1914 as the world teetered on the brink of World War I. Italy was eventually drawn into the war and Roncalli was drafted into the Italian Army as a stretcher bearer and chaplain.

Roncalli did his duty and was eventually discharged from the army in 1919. Free to serve the Church in new capacities he was appointed to be the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, handpicked by Pope Benedict XV.

Then in February 1925, Roncalli was summoned to the Vatican and given a new mission. This time he was sent to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitor to that country. Later, he was appointed aspostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece and made archbishop of Mesembria.

Beginning in 1935, racial tensions and anti-Jewish sentiment began to explode into actual acts of violence against the Jews and other ethnic minorities. Roncalli started using his influence to save what people he could from the depredation of both local authorities and later the Nazis. During his tenure as archbishop, Roncalli saved thousands of Jews, enough that he was named a "Righteous Gentile" following the war.

In late 1944, the Church was anxious to remove clergy in France that had collaborated with the Nazis in various forms. Roncalli was appointed as the new papal Nuncio and sent to France to negotiate the retirement of bishops who were involved with the Nazis.

In 1952, Roncalli was offered a new position, this time as Patriarch of Venice. At the same time he assumed his new title, Roncalli became the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca. He assumed his new responsibilities on March 15, 1953.

Roncalli's papal predecessor died on October 9, 1958 and he was soon summoned to Rome where he was to participate in the process of selecting a new pope. The College eventually settled on Roncalli for election and he accepted, saying "I will be called John," a surprising choice because of that name's association with schism.

As Pope John XXIII, he immediately began to change the culture in the Vatican. On Christmas, 1958, he resumed the papal practice of making visits to the community within the official Diocese of Rome. He visited the sick, the poor, and prisoners. He apologized for episodes of anti-Semitism within the Church carried on by some of his predecessors.

It was originally expected that Pope John XXIII would only serve a short time before passing away and that he would make no significant changes to Church practice. However, Pope John XXIII was a man of great mercy and kindness and much like Pope Francis of today, he did many things that created sensation in the streets and pews.

Perhaps his most influential decision was the call for an ecumenical council which would be known as Vatican II. As a result of this council, many practices of the classic Church would be altered with a new emphasis on ecumenism and a new liturgy.

Pope John XXIII addressed several topic of importance to Catholics around the world. He prohibited the use of contraceptives which interfere with the procreative will of God. He upheld the traditional view that married couples may not divorce. He also moved to protect the Church from scandal, ordering confidentiality when dealing with matters of clergy accused of the sexual abuse of children. How his request to the bishops of his time was interpreted remains subject to debate.

By late 1962, Pope John XXIII has executed most of the work for which he would be known. He was, like his own sister before him, diagnosed with stomach cancer, which was a terminal diagnosis for that time.

In his last months, he offered to negotiate peace between the Soviet Union and the United States, then at the height of the Cold War. The offer, although declined, was popular in both countries. In the wake of the news, John XXIII was the first pope to be honored as the Time Magazine Man of the Year.

Pope John XXIII did the best he could although his health and doctors were failing. On June 3, 1963, Pope John XXIII died in his bed at age 81.

The world mourned John XXIII and he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson in December 1963.

Pope John XXIII generally maintained a good reputation among those who remembered him and he was often titled "the Good."

On September 3, 2000, Pope John Paul beatified him. Miracles were attributed to him and his body was found to be in an uncorrupted state, a phenomenon consistent with sainthood. His body was put on display for the veneration of the faithful.

Pope Francis approved John XXIII for canonization on June 3, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death.

Bl. Pope John XXIII will be canonized on April 27, 2014 alongside Bl. Pope John Paul II in a historic ceremony to be presided by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis. It will be a historic ceremony with two living men with the title of pontiff presiding together.

Pope John XXIII's feast day will be October 11, as opposed to the day of his death, which is June 3. This special feast day is intended as a commemoration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.


St. John XXIII Comments


More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

61.

Image of St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius Loyola

Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled "Loyola," hence the discrepancy. ... continue reading

62.

Image of St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head ... continue reading

63.

Image of St. Stephen

St. Stephen

Saint Stephen was one of the first ordained deacons of the Church. He was also the first Christian martyr. The Greek word from which we derive the English word martyr literally means ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Venturino of Bergamo

St. Venturino of Bergamo

Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, Italy, he joined the Dominicans in 1319 and soon distinguished himself as a brilliant preacher, attracting huge crowds throughout ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Catherine of Bologna

St. Catherine of Bologna

St. Catherine of Bologna was an Italian nun and artist born as Catherine de' Vigri on September 8, 1413 in Bologna, Italy. She was the member of an aristocratic family and the daughter of a diplomat to the Marquis of Ferrara. Catherine received a wonderful education ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Isidore, the Farmer

St. Isidore, the Farmer

St. Isidore was born at Madrid, Spain, in the latter half of the 12th century. For the greater part of his life he was employed as a laborer on a farm outside the city. Many marvelous happenings accompanied his lifelong work in the fields and continued long after his ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. David I of Scotland

St. David I of Scotland

David, the youngest son of Scotland's virtuous queen, (Saint) Margaret, succeeded his brother to the Scottish throne in 1124. David's friend, (Saint) Aelred, abbot of the English monastery of Rievaulx, was later to recount David's religious devotion and his generosity ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Saint Patrick in blue vestments.

Bet you didn't know these 10 things about St. Patrick and Ireland!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The most kids know of St. Patrick 's Day is that you must wear green or you'll get a pinch from your friends. Adults see the day as an occasion to celebrate, sometimes with green beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages. However, few really know what they are ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.