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
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
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
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
The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII:
- Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
- Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
- Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
- Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
- Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
- Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
- Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
- Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
- Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
- Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
(outside source: Vatican.va
Find more about John XXIII from the Vatican.