Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881 - 1963), who became famous as Pope John XXIII, was the 262nd Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He died on June 3, 1963. St. John Paul II beatified him in 2000, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.

Saint John XXIII will forever be remembered as the man who humanized the role of Pope and opened the door to the renewal of the church. He explained: "We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life."
There is an anecdote that perfectly conveys the humble spirit of Pope John XXIII. On the evening when he announced the opening of the Ecumenical Council, the first one since 1869, he couldn't get to sleep. Finally, he called himself to order: "Angelo, why aren't you sleeping? Who's running the church, you or the Holy Spirit? So sleep." And he did.

Prior to his being elected pope, Angelo Roncalli served as a clerical diplomat (Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece), papal nuncio in Paris, and patriarch of Venice. This was all good training for dealing with social problems and the differences among peoples. While still an Archbishop, he noted: "Wherever I go I pay more attention to what we have in common than to what separates us."

Pope John XXIII began his mission by promising to be a "a good shepherd." He was the first pope in history to pay tribute to the part played by women in public life.


Here are some quotations which signify his open-mindedness and distinctive spiritual perspective.

  • "The habit of thinking ill of everything and everyone is tiresome to our selves and to all around us."
  • "One must never confuse error and the person who errs."
  • "Perfume all your actions with the life-giving breath of prayer."
  • "For a Christian who believes in Jesus and his Gospel, war is an iniquity and a contradiction."
  • "Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage."
  • "My bags are packed and I am ready to go." (speaking of death)


Read a collection of Pope John XXIII's writings in the Orbis Modern Spiritual Masters Series.