Blessed John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli died exactly 50 years ago on the 3rd of June 1963, two months after the completion of his well- known encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris’.
Pope John, now blessed, was elected to the See of Peter on the 28 October 1958 at the age of 77 and was considered by many to be a sort of caretaker Pope. But as it happens he was a Pope of surprises and during his four and a half years as Roman Pontiff launched the Catholic Church into one of the most momentous epochs by calling the Second Vatican Council.
Beatified by John Paul II his memoria is celebrated on October 11th, the date of the opening of the first session of the second Vatican Council in 1965 which we are marking this year during the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI.
Vatican Radio articles - Blessed John XXIII: Pope of Hearts and Blessed John XXIII: Pope of Surprises
Pope Francis reflects on Pope John XXIII today when he met a group from the diocese of Bergamo where Pope John XXIII was from.
Papal encyclicals of Pope John XXIII which are still well worth reading today - Pacem in terris and Mater et Magistra
Fr James Martin reflects on Blessed John XXIII
Also courtesy of Rocco over at Whispers, John's most beloved of words: his Discorso alla Luna (the "Moonlight Speech") given on the evening of 11 October 1962, to a torchlight vigil that gathered below the Apartment window at the end of the day on which he opened the Second Vatican Council.....
“Dear sons and daughters,
I hear your voices! Mine is just one lone voice, but it sums up the voice of the whole world. And here, in fact, all the world is represented here tonight. It could even be said that even the moon hastens close tonight, that from above, it might watch this spectacle that not even St Peter's Basilica, over its four centuries of history, has ever been able to witness.
We ask for a great day of peace. Yes, of peace! 'Glory to God, and peace to men of goodwill.'' If I asked you, if I could ask of each one of you: where are you from? The children of Rome, especially represented here, would respond: ah, we are the closest of children, and you're our bishop. Well, then, sons and daughters of Rome, always remember that you represent 'Roma, caput mundi' ['Rome, the capital of the world'] which through the design of Providence it has been called to be across the centuries.
My own person counts for nothing -- it's a brother who speaks to you, become a father by the will of our Lord, but all together, fatherhood and brotherhood and God's grace, give honor to the impressions of this night, which are always our feelings, which now we express before heaven and earth: faith, hope, love -- love of God, love of brother, all aided along the way in the Lord's holy peace for the work of the good. And so, let us continue to love each other, to look out for each other along the way: to welcome whoever comes close to us, and set aside whatever difficulty it might bring....
When you head home, find your children. Hug and kiss your children and tell them: 'This is the hug and kiss of the Pope.' And when you find them with tears to dry, give them a good word. Give anyone who suffers a word of comfort. Tell them 'The Pope is with us especially in our times of sadness and bitterness.'
And then, all together, may we always come alive -- whether to sing, to breathe, or to cry, but always full of trust in Christ, who helps us and hears us, let us continue along our path.”