St. Pope John XXIII

Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected to the papacy on Oct. 28, 1958, a surprise to most Catholics. He chose the name John, the first to take that name in more than 500 years. Pope John XXIII wanted to be a spiritual leader, as he had always striven for. A month into his pontificate, he wrote, "Nothing has value for history and human life, nothing has any value for the Church and for souls, unless the pontiff is holy in deed as well as in title." Pope John XXIII became one of the most admired popes, by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He was known as "Good Pope John." Pope John XXIII died on June 3, 1983, and he was declared blessed by Pope John Paul II on Sept. 3, 2000. He was declared a saint with Pope John Paul II on April 27, 2014.

Read more about canonization.

Read these two biographies for more detailed information about Pope John XXIII: "John XXIII— Mystic Pope" and "Pope John XXIII: Beyond the myths."

John XXIII Fast Facts

Name: Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli
Date of birth: Nov. 25, 1881
Birthplace: Sotto il Monte, a tiny village in Bergamo, Italy
Parents: Giovanni Battista Roncalli and Marianna Giulia Mazzolla, tenant farmers


Diocesan seminary at Bergamo
Pontifical Roman Seminary
Doctorate in theology

Papal Information

Name: Pope John XXIII
261st successor of St. Peter
Motto: "Oboedientia et Pax" (Obedience and Peace) (Taken In 1925 when Pius XI named him Apostolic Visitator in Bulgaria)
Major themes: Pastoral concern (especially for the poor), ecumenism
Called Vatican II
Made cardinalate international
Ordered revision of canon law
Wrote Pacem in Terris

Pope John XXIII
Two Popes Two Saints
Saint Pope John Paul XXIII prayer card and Two Popes, Two Saints pamphlet on the papal canonizations

From Angelo to John XXIII

1893: Joined diocesan seminary at age 12
1901-1905: Student at Pontifical Roman Seminary
Aug. 10, 1904: Ordained a priest
1905: Appointed secretary to bishop of Bergamo
1915: Drafted as sergeant in medical corps/served as chaplain
1919: Named spiritual director of seminary
1921: Benedict XV named him Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith
1925: Pius XI named him Apostolic Visitator in Bulgaria
March 19, 1925: Ordained bishop and went to Bulgaria, granted title Apostolic Delegate
1935: Named Apostolic Delegate in Turkey and Greece
1944: Pius XII appointed him Nuncio in France
1953: Made a cardinal by Pius XII and sent to Venice as Patriarch
Oct. 28, 1958: Elected pope

Fun Facts

Fourth of 13 children
Joined seminary at age 12
Served as ordinary solider 1901-1902
First pope to take name John in more than 500 years
Called "Good Pope John"
Raised pay for Vatican employees
First pope since 1870 to make pastoral visit to Rome diocese
U.S. President John F. Kennedy said Pacem in Terris made him proud to be Catholic
Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson attended his funeral

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Find more about John XXIII from the Vatican.