Pope Saint John XXIII: Secular Franciscan

Pope Saint John XXIII: Secular Franciscan

On October 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of Pope St. John XXIII (1881-1963), a Secular Franciscan.

Influenced by Franciscan spirituality

He was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in the diocese of Bergamo, Italy, the fourth of 13 children of a family of poor sharecroppers. While in the diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1896. At the time of John's canonization in 2014, Fr. Andre Cirino, OFM, wrote a very nice article on the influence of Franciscan spirituality in Pope John's life, "Saint John XXIII, Secular Franciscan."

Pope John XXIII birthplace 700pxlsBirthplace of Angelo Roncalli, Sotto il Monte, province of Bergamo, Italy. Several families lived in this large house.

Broad experience of the world

John was ordained in 1904, and after serving in his diocese in various positions, he entered the Vatican diplomatic corps, where he had a long and varied career, giving him a broad experience of the world. Click here for a full biography.

Pope John XXIII photo young man 700pxlsThe young Father Roncalli.

Capturing hearts of the world

In 1953 he was named Cardinal-Patriarch of Venice, which he thought would round out his life, but he was surprisingly elected Pope in 1958, when he was almost 77. His warmth, sense of humor, and kindness soon captured the hearts of the world.

Optimistic spirit of dialogue

No doubt his greatest achievement was summoning the Second Vatican Council that he had the joy of opening on this date in 1962. He brought an optimistic spirit of dialogue to the presence of the Church in the modern world, and his encyclicals emphasized the Church's service to humanity as an agent of justice and peace.

Pope John XXIII opening Vatican Council 2 700pxlsPope John opens the Second Vatican Council, October 11, 1962.

Rebuilding God’s house

John XXIII was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014. Let us cherish the memory of this great man who sought to respond in the 20th century to the call of Christ to St. Francis: "Go, rebuild my house!"

Carrying out Pope John’s mission today

The process of consultation and dialogue Pope John initiated is being carried out through the current Synod of Bishops that Pope Francis opened yesterday in the Vatican. Its first phase will be on the diocesan level where Catholics at the grassroots will have an opportunity to share their needs and aspirations. Pope Francis singled out the three key values that underlie this process: communion, participation, and mission. Let us listen to his inspiring words: "Address of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Opening of the Synod."Pope Francis opening Synod of Bishops 2021 700pxlsPope Francis opens the Bishops' Synod, October 10, 2021 (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters).