Pope John XXIII is probably most remembered as a humble, and jolly man of good humor, which is of course true; he was such a man. But his decision to convene the Second Vatican Council also reveals him as a bold man of courage and great faith. He may not have thought of himself in those terms, humble as he was, but he would have needed these qualities in order to undertake this daring task under less than enthusiastic support and confidence from those around him. (For insight into John's decision to convene the Council, click here for a video interview with his Secretary, Archbishop Loris Capovilla.)
For Reflection: in our own lives we might hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, inviting us to set forth in a surprising directions and find that those with whom we share this stirring discourage us and cast doubts on what had inspired us. Can you think of such an example from your life? How did you respond? Is this something you are still wrestling with? Where do you turn for support in the face of such discouragement?
Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in Italy, the third of thirteen children of a poor peasant family. He would walk to school barefoot and carry his shoes so he wouldn’t wear out the leather.
He was ordained a priest in 1904, when he was 23 and only two years later was asked to be the secretary of the new bishop of Bergamo (his diocese). (Click here for a biography or click here for a video-biography)
You have the facts, but what was John like? How would he have come across if you had met him on the streets of Rome? Click here for a brief glimpse from stories from those who did meet him.