Exactly sixty years ago, on June 3rd 1963, Pope John XXIII died.
Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected pope on October 28th 1958, at the age of seventy-six.
Pope John XXIII explained his choice of name to the cardinals: 'I will be called John... a name sweet to us, because it is the name of our father, dear to us because it is the name of the humble parish church where we were baptised, the solemn name of numberless cathedrals scattered throughout the world, including our own basilica (St. John Lateran). Twenty-two Johns of indisputable legitimacy have been pope, and almost all had a brief pontificate. We have preferred to hide the smallness of our name behind this magnificent succession of Roman Pontiffs'. *
Il Papa Buono, as he came to be popularly known, has gone down in history for convening the Second Vatican Council, the first session of which opened on October 11th 1962.
John XXIII (r. 1958-63) was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3rd 2000. Fourteen years later he was canonised by Pope Francis.
The feast day of Pope John XXIII is October 11th.
*There had, in fact, only been twenty-one Johns 'of indisputable legitimacy', as there had never been a Pope John XX.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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