Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli

Why is Saint?

Angelo Roncalli was a man of serene patience, capable of enduring the difficulties and trials of life. From a young age he resolved always to nourish his faith and never allow it to go stale; he sought always to remain as a child before God, as Jesus teaches in the Gospel.

As a priest he was free of careerist ambitions and was given to friendly collaboration. As a bishop first, and later as Roman Pontiff, he knew always how to exercise his authority in a collegial manner, with special care for priests and their formation, as well as for the laity, spurring them on to a responsible apostolate. It was from this constant desire to make the faith grow that he dedicated himself to fostering the active participation of the faithful in the liturgy; so, also, he always had a strong ecumenical sensibility.

He lived the faith with a keen awareness of the various forms of popular piety: Eucharistic worship in its different expressions, such as the visit to and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; devotion to Our Lady with the recitation of the rosary and visits to her shrines; veneration of the saints; prayer for the deceased; and the custom of making pilgrimages.

He was able to communicate in a simple and immediate manner, using images taken from daily life, thus succeeding in entering immediately into the hearts of his listeners.

His holiness led him to indicate the path of renewal against the great backdrop of Tradition.

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli

The youngest of four children, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born on November 25, 1881 in the city of Sotto il Monte, in the province of Bergamo. From an early age he showed some inclination to the priesthood. In 1892 he entered the Seminary of Bergamo and in 1901 moved to the Seminary of St. Apollinaris in Rome. Roncalli was ordained a priest in 1904 in the church of S. Maria di Monte Santo.

In 1905 he was chosen as secretary to the new bishop of Bergamo, Very Rev. Giacomo Radini Germans. In 1906, Roncalli began to teach various courses in the seminary: church history, patristics, and apologetics. During this period he was also the editor of the diocesan magazine "The Diocesan Life" and from 1910 an assistant of the Catholic Women’s Union.

The outbreak of war in 1915 saw him spend himself for more than three years as a chaplain in the care of wounded soldiers in the hospitals of Bergamo. In July of 1918 he agreed to serve the soldiers suffering from tuberculosis, knowing that thus he was risking his life by facing the danger of contamination.

In December of 1920, the pope called him to Rome to preside over the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Italy. In 1925 he was appointed Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria and consecrated a bishop, thus beginning his period of diplomatic service for the Holy See. At the end of 1934 he was sent as Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece, countries where Catholics did not have an easy life. During World War II he maintained a prudent attitude of neutrality, which allowed him to offer effective assistance to the Jews, thousands of whom were thus saved from extermination, as well as to the starving Greek population. On December 30, 1944 he was sent to the Nunciature in Paris. His diplomatic activity assumed an explicitly pastoral flavor through his pastoral visits to many dioceses of France and Algeria.

Created a cardinal in the last consistory of Pope Pius XII, Roncalli accepted the proposal to transfer to the see of Venice, where he arrived on March 5, 1953. His episcopate was characterized by a fervent commitment to pastoral ministry and in the celebration of a Diocesan Synod.

Elected Pope on October 28, 1958, Roncalli took the name John XXIII. In spite of those who believed that his would be a simple pontificate of transition, he showed from the very beginning a new style, which reflected his human and priestly personality, shaped as it was through a series of meaningful experiences in his life. He restored the proper operation of the offices of the curia and took care to give his ministry a particularly pastoral signature. He increased contact with the faithful through visits to parishes, hospitals and prisons. On January 25, 1959 John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council. The objectives assigned to the council, elaborated in a complete way in the opening speech of October 11, 1962, were original, not seeking to define new truths, but to express traditional doctrine in a manner more suited to modern sensibilities. John XXIII exhorted the Church to favor mercy and dialogue with the world over condemnation and opposition, in the renewed awareness that the Church's mission embraces all men.

Pope John XXIII’s commitment to peace was constant: in his Encyclicals Mater et Magistra (1961) and Pacem in Terris(1963), and in his decisive intervention during the crisis of Cuba in the Autumn of 1962. His prestige and universal admiration can be measured by the last weeks of his life, when the whole world was anxiously gathered around the bedside of the dying Pope and received with deep sorrow the news of his death on the evening of June 3, 1963.

Steps of the Procedure for the Cause

During the Second Vatican Council, many bishops would have wanted to proclaim John XXIII a saint by acclamation. But Paul VI preferred to take the institutional route, and in 1965 he opened the cause for his beatification. For the “Good Pope,” one the most loved in the history of the Church, there were neither discounts nor shortcuts. The canonical process has taken into consideration and has responded to the objections of all those who shown incertitude concerning the beatification of Roncalli.

From 1966 to the conclusion of the trial phase, more than 300 testimonies were collected in the course of 18 informative proceedings. For beatification, one miracle is necessary and in the case of the Pontiff of Bergamo, there was the sudden miraculous healing of Sister Caterina Capitana of the Daughters of Charity. She was affected with a very serious hemorrhaging ulcerative gastritis, which had brought her close to the end of life. The sister, after praying to Pope John XXIII together with her fellow sisters, saw him in a vision reassuring her. Following this extraordinary event she regained her health, and this healing was then declared scientifically unexplainable by the Medical Consulters of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The theologian consulters and the priests, cardinals, and bishops of the Congregation recognized the miracle as one of the third degree; John Paul II approved it as such by decree on January 27, 2000.

The Canonization of Blessed John XXIII

The Consistory convened by Pope Francis on September 30, 2013 authorized the will of the Holy Father to proceed with the canonization of John XXIII according to the procedure called pro gratia. The canonical legislation foresees that, for opportune reasons, the canonization of a blessed may proceed even without the customary certification of a new miracle.

Pope Francis wanted to declare John XXIII a saint because of the relevance of his example and his teaching. The Christian witness of Papa Roncalli, the coherence between what he taught and what he lived with daily faith to his vocation, the awakened urgency of an evangelical renewal in the Church, his pastoral intuitions and the broadness of the horizons he embraced and proposed with the convocation of the Second Vatican Council “are a luminous guiding light for the journey that awaits us” said Francis.

Some aspects appear essentially important for the present and future journey of the life of the Church: the profuse dedication of John XXIII for peace, for dialogue, for ecumenism, for the missions of the Church. All of these are areas in which the themes of the magisterium of Francis are reflected.

Above all, the preaching of peace, espoused in the teaching of the encyclical Pacem in Terris, which “brought to the whole world the echo of the maternal solicitude of the Church for the construction of a lasting accord between peoples.” Then the openness to dialogue, with Christians of other Churches, with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim world “and with many other men of good will.” There Roncalli showed himself to be an efficacious weaver of relationships and a valid promoter of unity, inside and outside the ecclesial community, opening a new phase in interreligious relationships.

The attention that Pope John had, in every instant of his ecclesial service, to the missionary dimension of the Church is another reason for his relevance and therefore opportune for his canonization. Love for the tradition of the Church and consciousness of her constant need foraggiornamento, realized in the Second Vatican Council, conceived, prepared, and opened by him, remain a living inheritance of his teaching, that may stimulate believers to move from an idea of the Church as separated from the world, closed defensively like a fortified citadel against her adversaries, to a Church alive in the faith, friend of men and desirous to contribute to the good of all.

Prayer to Blessed Pope John XXIII

Blessed Pope John! We give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for having sent you to us as a beloved brother and wise teacher. You climbed the Mount of the Beatitudes, allowing yourself to be led always and in everything by God’s will: a farm boy from Sotto il Monte become Bishop of the Universal Church.

Pray for us unto the Father of all consolation for the grace to embrace the Good News and remain rooted in impregnable faith, unbreakable hope, and boundless charity; to happily accept blessed poverty; to serve in silence and perseverance; to desire heavenly things and detach ourselves from those of this earth, so that our minds may be open to the current needs of the Church and of humanity.

Obtain for us the wisdom of heart to love everyone as our brothers and sisters, to forgive and embrace the erring, to foster that which breaks down the barriers of misunderstanding among people and nations, to suppress our own selfishness, and to generate a fruitful unity of spirit.

Sustained by Our Heavenly Mother, may we be devoted in a particular way to the Name, Kingdom, and Will of God. May humility and meekness shine on our faces, and may we understand that justice and goodness consist in remaining, as the saints did, in spiritual childhood, growing little by little according to our vocation.

We ask this all through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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