Saint John XXIII Secular Franciscan-Pope Feast 11 th October.

A painting of Blessed John XXIII is seen in the museum dedicated to the late pontiff in his birthplace of Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Italy, Feb. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (May 4, 2012) See VATICAN LETTER May 4, 2012.

A painting of Saint John XXIII is seen in the museum dedicated to the late pontiff in his birthplace of Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Italy, Feb. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (May 4, 2012) See VATICAN LETTER May 4, 2012.

Saint John was born at Sotto il Monte, Italy  on the 25th November 1881. he was the fourth in a family of 14 .He was named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. The family worked as sharecroppers. the religious atmosphere of his family and the fervent life of the parish , under the guidance of Fr Francesco  Rebuzzini, provided him with training in the christian life.                                                                                                                                                                        He entered the Bergamo seminary in 1892. Here he began the practice of making  spiritual notes , which he continued in one form or another until his death, and which have been gathered together in the “Journal of a Soul “. Here he also began the deeply cherished practice of regular spiritual direction. In 1896 he was admitted to the Secular Franciscan Order by the spiritual director of the Bergamo seminary, Fr Luigi Isacchi;he made profession of its Rule of Life on the 23rd May 1897 .                                                            From 1901 to 1905 he was a student at the Pontifical Roman seminary. On the 11 th August 1904 he was ordained a priest in the church of Santa Maria in Monte Santo in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo.In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the new Bishop of Bergamo, Giacomo Maria Radini Tedeschi. He accompanied the bishop in his pastoral visitations and collaborated with him in his many initiatives. He was an elegant , profound ,effective and sought after preacher.                                                                                                      When Italy went to war in 1915 he was drafted as a sergeant in the medical corps and became a chaplain to wounded soldiers. When  the war ended, he opened a” student house” for the spiritual needs of young people.                                                                                  In 1919 he was made spiritual director of the seminary, but in 1921 he was called to the service of the Holy See . Benedict XV brought him to Rome to be the Italian president of the Society foe the Propagation of the Faith. In 1925 Pius XI named him  Apostolic Visitator  in Bulgaria, raising him to the episcopate with the titular Diocese  of Areopolis. For his Episcopal motto he chose Oboedientia et Pax, which became his guiding motto for the rest of his life.                                                                                                                                       On the 19th March 1925 he was ordained Bishop and left for Bulgaria.He was granted the title of Apostolic Delegate  and remained in Bulgaria until 1935,visiting Catholic communities and establishing relationships of respect and esteem with the other Christian  communities.  In the  aftermath of the 1928 earthquake his solitude was everywhere present. He endured in silence the misunderstandings and other difficulties of a ministry on the fringes of society, and thus refined his sense of trust and abandonment to Jesus  crucified.                                                                                                                                                     In 1935 he was named Apostolic  Delegate in Turkey and Greece. The Catholic Church was present in many ways in the young Turkish republic. His ministry among the Catholics was intense , and his respectful approach and dialogue with the worlds of Orthodoxy and Islam  became a feature of his tenure.  When the Second World War broke out he was in Greece. He tried to get news from the prisoners of war to their families and assisted many Jews to escape by issuing “transit Visas” from the Apostolic Delegation . In December 1944 Pius XII appointed him nuncio in France. During the last months of the war and the beginning of peace he aided prisoners of war and helped to normalise the ecclesiastical organisation  of France.  His approach was always characterised by a striving for Gospel simplicity, even amid the most complex of diplomatic questions. The sincere piety  of his interior life found expression each day in prolonged periods of prayer and mediation. In 1953 he was created a Cardinal and sent to Venice as Patriarch. He was filled with joy at the prospect of ending his days in the direct care of souls , as he had always desired since becoming a priest.                                                                                                            At the death of Pius XXII he was elected Pope on the 28th October 1958, taking the name John XXIII .His pontificate ,which lasted less than five years ,presented him to the entire world as an authentic image of the Good Shepherd. Meek and gentle, enterprising and courageous,simple and active,he carried out thr Christian duties of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy,visiting the imprisoned and the sick, welcoming those of every nation and faith. His social magisterium in the encyclicals Pacem in Terres and Mater et Magistra was deeply appreciated .                                                                                                        He convoked the Roman Synod, established the commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law and summoned the Second Vatican Council. He was present as Bishop of Rome through his visitation of the parishes, especially those in new suburbs. The faithful saw in him a reflection of the goodness of God and called him “the good Pope”. He was sustained by a profound spirit of prayer. He launched an extensive  renewal of the Church while radiating the peace ofone who always trusts in the Lord . Pope John XXIII died on the evening of the 3rd June 1963,in a spirit of profound trust in Jesus and of longing for His embrace. He was beatified in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II   and canonised in 2015 by Pope Francis..

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