Loading
Pilgrims crowd Bl. John XXIII’s grave on day he died
By David Kerr
Bl. Pope John XXIII's tomb under the altar of St. Jerome. Credit: John Mosbaugh
Bl. Pope John XXIII's tomb under the altar of St. Jerome. Credit: John Mosbaugh

.- All day in St. Peter’s Basilica pilgrims have been filing past the flower-covered tomb of Blessed Pope John XXIII, who died on this day in 1963.

“I’m just thankful to be here,” says great-grandmother Georgette Sweat from Stuart, Fla. “He was one of my favorite Popes. He was so very warm and caring and charismatic – and he showed it.”

Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Roncalli in 1881 into a humble farming family in the northern Italian region of Bergamo. He rose through the diplomatic ranks of the Church before becoming Patriarch of Venice in 1953.

To the surprise of many, himself included, he was elected to the papacy upon the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. When he arrived in Rome for the consistory to elect the new Pope, he came with a return train ticket for Venice.

In spite of his papacy only lasting four years, it was momentous. Most notably, he convoked the Second Vatican Council in 1962.

His personal warmth and good humor captured the affection of many and gained him the moniker “Good Pope John.” Meanwhile, his habit of sneaking out of the Vatican in the dead of night to go for a stroll around Rome also gained him the nickname “Johnny Walker,” a play upon the famous Scotch whiskey. In 2000 he was declared “blessed”--the step just prior to being officially declared a saint-- by Pope John Paul II.

So why is he still so popular nearly 50 years after his death?

“He has remained in the heart of Catholicism as the Pope of goodness, the Pope who was the image of goodness,” Cardinal Angelo Comastri told CNA as pilgrims continued to flood in to St. Peters to visit the tomb. Cardinal Comastri is the senior cleric, or archpriest, currently in charge of the basilica.

“I think it depends on the fact that he was elected Pope at the age of 77-years-old. And at 77 he said that we need to feel young, we need to rejuvenate the Church. He said we need to ‘aggiornare’ to ‘update.’”

Cardinal Comastri quickly added that Pope John never intended to change the Church in order to suit the world.

“It was to rediscover the freshness of the beginnings, the interest in the origins, the interest in the Gospel, the enthusiasm and the freshness of the Apostles. For an old man of 77 years to have this courage is undoubtedly astonishing and fascinating.”

He also thinks that the way Pope John XXIII bore his final illness – an 8 month battle with stomach cancer - inspired many around the world.

“Pope John XXIII, during his sickness, showed his faith, kindness and fatherhood for the world. He said at the time, ‘my bed is like an altar and an altar needs a victim. I offer myself to the Lord and I do it voluntarily.’”

Pope John offered much of that suffering for the unity of Christians, said Cardinal Comastri.

“Because he really lived the drama of the division which was against the prayer to Jesus, against the desire of Jesus. And Pope John XXIII, even though he was dying, prayed to Jesus that the day of reconciliation of all Christians would be ‘anticipato’ or moved forward.”

When he died on June 3, 1963 the world mourned.

“And while he was dying something similar took place to what happened when Pope John Paul II died. The world appeared to be reconciled around the bed of the Pope, the bed of the dying Pope,” the cardinal recalled.

“Jews, Buddhists, even jail inmates all communicated their sentiments to the Secretary of State because Pope John XXIII was felt to be the father of the world, the father of humanity, the father who had helped men to feel more like brothers.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
20

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014

EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Gospel
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Homily
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: