John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli), Pope

Feast Day: October 11
Canonized: April 27, 2014
Beatified: September 3, 2000
Venerated: December 20, 1999

From her very beginning, the Church has had leaders who have helped us in our search for God. Pope John XXIII was one of those leaders. Pope John XXIII was pope from 1958 until he died in 1963.

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born November 25, 1881, in the village of Sotto il Monte (Under the Mountain) in Bergamo, a small town in Northern Italy. Even when Angelo was a young boy, his parents knew that he was not like his brothers and sisters. Angelo would not grow up to be the farmer his father wished for. The local priest, Father Francesco Rebuzzini, guided and tutored young Angelo.

Angelo was ordained a priest in 1904. More than 50 years later, when he became pope, he took the name John, his father’s name. During World War I, the young priest served as a medic and a chaplain. During World War II, as a papal diplomat in Turkey and Greece, he used his office to help thousands of refugees in Europe.

He was elected pope in 1958. He was known for his warmth and humor, and he visited children in hospitals and prison inmates at Christmastime. Stories say he liked to sneak out of the Vatican at night to walk freely around Rome.

Pope John XXIII is most remembered for calling the Second Vatican Council in 1962. This was a meeting of all the bishops of the Church. Pope John XXIII wanted them to help the whole Church understand better the role and purpose of the Church. During his opening address, Pope John XXIII called the Church to follow a path of mercy. He said that the Church needs to use the "medicine of mercy" to show how the Church is a "loving mother to all." The documents of this council help Christians to better live as followers of Christ in our own time. He died on June 3, 1963, at the age of 81.

In 2013 Pope Francis declared that Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II were to be formally canonized on the same day.


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Check out the dynamic activity, From Angelo to John.



Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 2, chapter 9
Grade 5, chapters 1, 9

Grade 6, chapter 20
Christ in the Liturgy, chapter 1
Life in Christ Jesus, chapter 7

Connecting to Blest Are We® 
Grade 5, chapter 17
The Story of the Church, chapters 3, 17, 19, 20