st john xxiii

St. John XXIII

“A peaceful man does more good than a learned one.” – St. John XXIII, Pope

A lot of older Catholics remember the Second Vatican Council. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of that. For those who don’t know, the official title is the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and its purpose is to address relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world.

Not to worry, I’m not writing about that. Today is the feast of day of St. John XXIII who also happened to be the one to convene the Council. People consider him to be one of the most beloved popes of modern times because of his tolerance, optimism, and genial personality. His inspiration reached millions inside and outside of the Church.

Interesting Facts about St. John XXIII
  • He was ordained a priest in 1904 and was canonized on the same day as Pope John Paul II in 2014. And his tenure as Pope only lasted five years.
  • He penned eight pastoral letters or encyclicals. Two of which were Mater et Magistra (1961) which pertains to social questions of peace and justice and Pacem in Terris (1963) on the problems of peace among nations. These showed his advocacy of promoting justice and peace.
  • In terms of spiritual life, his simplicity and humility can be gleaned from his diaries, published as Journal of a Soul and Letters to His Family.
  • He also had a sense of humor as you can see from the quote below.

“It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope.” – St. John XXIII, Pope

On this day fifty-six years ago, thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Evidently, the crowd didn’t disperse even after the day’s festivities. The story goes that St. John XXIII was feeling the effects of stomach cancer after the day’s activities and was reluctant to meet the people in the evening. However, when he saw the multitude of people, his heart went out to them. He opened the window overlooking the square and gave an impromptu speech. It would be known as the “Moonlight Speech.” Peace, love, and unity are the few words that sum up the speech. At the end, he told the people to go home and “give your children a kiss and tell them that it is from the Pope.”

St. John XXIII, pray for us!

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