Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in Italy in 1881, Pope John XXIII was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. He was the fourth child of 14, born to deeply religious parents. His religious education was entrusted to his Godfather, who instilled in him a deep love and admiration of the mystery of God. During his formative years and into adulthood, his great “friends” among the saints were St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales, two outstanding thinkers and also compassionate pastors. He was made a cardinal and Patriarch of Venice in 1953 and was a much loved pastor, dedicating himself completely to the well-being of his flock.
Elected Pope on the death of Pope Pius XII, he was an example of a ‘pastoral’ Pope, a good shepherd who cared deeply for his people. He showed this concern, in part, in his social Encyclicals, especially Pacem in Terris, “On Peace in the World.” His greatest act as Pope, however, was the inspiration to convoke the Second Vatican Council, which he opened on October 11, 1962.
Pope John’s spirit of humble simplicity, profound goodness, and deep life of prayer radiated in all that he did, and inspired people to affectionately call him “Good Pope John.” When asked on one occasion how many people worked in the Vatican, he replied, “About half of them.” He died June 3, 1963, in Rome and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000. He was canonized by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on April 27, 2014.
Let us pray. “Almighty ever-living God, who in Pope Saint John the Twenty-Third have given a living example of Christ, the Good Shepherd, to shine throughout the whole world, grant us, we pray, that, through his intercession, we may joyfully pour out an abundance of Christian charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.”
For more on Pope John XXIII and his call (along with John Paul II) for unity: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/29415/christian-unity-a-goal-common-to-john-xxiii-john-paul-ii