Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the third of thirteen children, was born on November 25, 1881 at Sotto il Monte (Bergamo) of a family of sharecroppers. He attended elementary school in the town, was tutored by a priest of Carvico, and at the age of twelve entered the seminary at Bergamo. A scholarship from the Cerasoli Foundation (1901) enabled him to go on to the Apollinaris in Rome where he studied under (among others) Umberto Benigni, the Church historian. He interrupted his studies for service in the Italian Army but returned to the seminary, completed his work for a doctorate in theology, and was ordained in 1904. Continuing his studies in canon law he was appointed secretary to the new bishop of Bergamo, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi. Angelo served this social-minded prelate for nine years, acquiring first-hand experience and a broad understanding of the problems of the working class. He also taught apologetics, church history, and patrology.
With the entry of Italy into World War I in 1915 he was recalled to military service as a chaplain. On leaving the service in 1918 he was appointed spiritual director of the seminary, In 1921 he was called to Rome to reorganize the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Nominated titular archbishop of Areopolis and apostolic visitator to Bulgaria (1925), Transferred in 1934 to Turkey and Greece In his first public address Pope John expressed his concern for reunion with separated Christians and for world peace. In his coronation address he asserted “vigorously and sincerely” that it was his intention to be a pastoral pope since “all other human gifts and accomplishments—learning, practical experience, diplomatic finesse—can broaden and enrich pastoral work but they cannot replace it.”
Since his death on June 3, 1963, much has been written and spoken about the warmth and holiness of the beloved Pope John. Perhaps the testimony of the world was best expressed by a newspaper drawing of the earth shrouded in mourning with the simple caption, “A Death in the Family.”
PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN XXIII
Dear Pope John,
Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.
With outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.
You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.
With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.
Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.
… Pope St John XXIII, Pray for Us …
Prayer for Peace by St. John XXIII
Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace, who are yourself our peace and reconciliation, who so often said, “Peace to you,” grant us peace. Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice, and brotherly love. Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace. Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace. May all peoples of the earth becomes as brothers and sisters. May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all. Amen.
Prayer of Pope St. John XXIII
O Jesus, send laborers into your fields, which are awaiting holy apostles, saintly priests, heroic missionaries and dedicated sisters and brothers. Enkindle in the hearts of men and women the spark of a vocation. Grant that Christian families may desire to give to your Church helpers in the work of tomorrow. Amen.
Jesus, In The Blessed Sacrament
O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to be filled with love for You; keep me closely united with You, may my heart be near to Yours. I want to be to You, like the Apostle John.
O Mary of the Rosary, keep me recollected when I say these prayers of yours; bind me forever, with your rosary, to Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament.
Blessed be Jesus, my love. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Hail, Mother of the Americas, Heavenly Missionary of the New World! From the Sanctuary of Tepeyac you have been, for more than four centuries, the Mother and Teacher of the Faith to the peoples of the Americas. Be also our protection and save us, O Immaculate Mary. Aid our rulers; stir up a new zeal in our prelates; increase the virtues of our clergy and preserve forever our Faith. In every home may the holiness of the family flourish, and in the shelter of the home may Catholic education, favoured by your own benign glance, achieve a wholesome growth.
Prayers of Pope John XXIII to Mary
Holy Immaculate Mary, help all who are in trouble. Give courage to the faint-hearted, console the sad, heal the infirm, pray for the people, intercede for the clergy, have a special care for nuns; may all feel, all enjoy your kind and powerful assistance, all who now and always render and will render, you honor, and will offer you their petitions. Hear all our prayers, O Mother, and grant them all. We are all your children: Grant the prayers of your children. Amen.
A Prayer on the Canonization of Pope John XXIII
O God of Mercy and Love, we thank you for the gift of your son, Angelo Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, and for the honor of sainthood the Church has now bestowed upon him. Through the gifts of joyfulness, goodness and humility, he led the Church into the modern world. He taught us of the need for peace in the world which can only be achieved through the recognition of human dignity. He called us to work for a more just world. This holy man inspired us to live the Gospel, to love deeply, and to show compassion to persons who are poor and suffering. On the occasion of his canonization, we pray in thanks for his peaceful spirit in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.