Pope Saint John XXIII (1881-1963) was an Italian, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. He was elected to the papacy in 1958. He is one of the most influential Church figures of the 20th century because he called for the Second Vatican Council, believing that the Church must engage with the modern world in order to effectively spread the Gospel. During World War II, he was named Apostolic Nuncio to France and was instrumental in saving the lives of many Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. As pope, he was known for his humility and ordinariness and for defying the expectations of those who thought his papacy would be merely a stopgap. He died on June 3, 1963. John XXIII, often called “Good Pope John,” was much loved and is officially honored by the Church October 11, the anniversary of the opening of Vatican II.
Questions for Reflection
- Pope Saint John XXIII is known for moving the Church in the modern world from a siege mentality to a mission mentality. When in your life have you opened up the windows, let go of fear, and allowed God’s grace to flow in? When have you gotten outside the box of the way things have always been and opened yourself up to the vision of how things could become?
- How do you work to defy others’ expectations of you?