+ Angelo Roncalli was born in Bergamo, Italy.
+ Ordained in 1904, he served as secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and composed a number of scholarly works, including a five-volume life of Saint Charles Borromeo) before being drafted for service as a military chaplain in World War I.
+ In 1925, Roncalli was named archbishop and began a 30 year career in the Vatican diplomatic corps, serving in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and France. In 1953, he was appointed Cardinal Patriarch of Venice.
+ On October 28, 1958, he was elected pope, taking the name John XXIII.
+ As pope, John initiated a number of reforms, both within the Church and the broader culture. On January 25, 1959, he quietly announced his intention of calling an ecumenical council to consider a number of issues facing the Church. The opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, was the high point of his brief pontificate.
+ Remembered for his vision, love, and the fresh approach to Church affairs, Pope John XXIII died on June 3, 1963. He was canonized in 2014.
Prior to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, October 11 was celebrated as the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Seeing this celebration as a duplication of the celebration of Mary, Mother of God (January 1), the Church left the celebrations of Mary on this day as the choice of local churches and religious communities. On this day, the Society of the Divine (the Salvatorians) for example, celebrate Mary under her title, “Mother of the Savior.”
“Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Saint John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, guided by the Holy Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; for this reason I like to think of him as the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit.”—Pope Francis
Almighty and eternal God, who in the Pope, Saint John XXIII, gave to the whole world the shining example of a good shepherd, grant that, through his intercession, we may with joy spread abroad the fullness of Christian charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Proper collect for the commemoration of Pope Saint John XXIII, approved by the Congregation of Divine Worship)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here