RCHS Coat of Arms
Saint Angelo Guiseppi Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, was born on November 25, 1881, in Sotto il Monte, a small town in the Province of Bergamo, Italy. He was the son of Giovanni Battista Roncalli and his wife Marianna Giulia Mazzolla. The fourth in a family of 13, his family worked as sharecroppers, a striking contrast to his predecessor, Eugenio Pacelli, who came from an ancient aristocratic family, long connected to the Papacy. In 1904, Roncalli was ordained a priest in the Roman Church of Santa Maria in Monte Santo.
In 1905, Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi, the new bishop of Bergamo, appointed Roncalli as his secretary. Roncalli worked for Radini-Tedeschi until the bishop’s death in 1914. During this period Roncalli was also a teacher in the diocesan seminary.
During World War I, Roncalli was drafted into the Royal Italian Army as a sergeant, serving in the medical corps and as a chaplain. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV appointed him as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In 1925 Pope Pius XI appointed him as Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria, also naming him for consecration as titular bishop of Areopolis. He chose as his episcopal motto Obedientia et Pax (“Obedience and Peace”), which became his guiding motto.
In 1935 he was made Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece. Roncalli used this office to help the Jewish underground in saving thousands of refugees in Europe, leading some to consider him to be a Righteous Gentile. In 1944, during World War II, Pope Pius XII named him Apostolic Nuncio to Paris, France.
In 1953, he was named the Patriarch of Venice, and, accordingly, raised to the rank of cardinal. As a sign of his esteem, President Vincent Auriol of France claimed the ancient privilege possessed by French monarchs and bestowed the red hat on the now-Cardinal Roncalli at a ceremony in the Elysee Palace.
Pope John XXIII Coat of Arms
In 1958, Angelo Roncalli was selected Pope. As Pope John XXIII, he was known affectionately as “Good Pope John” and “the most loved Pope in history” to many people. He died on June 3, 1963.
In 2000, John was declared “Blessed Angelo Guiseppi Roncalli” by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood. Following his beatification, his body was moved from its original burial place in the grottoes below St Peter’s Basilica to the altar of St. Jerome and displayed for the veneration of the faithful.
Our Roncalli Catholic patron, Blessed Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, was canonized on April 27, 2014 along with his successor Pope John Paul II.