Pope St. John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, in Italy, on Nov. 25, 1881. He was the fourth child of 14, and his parents instilled great faith and love for God. He entered the seminary at the age of 11, became a Secular Franciscan four years later, and in 1901, he entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary. He was ordained in 1904, and was made secretary to the bishop of Bergamo. He also taught in the seminary.
John was great friends with St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales when he was a young priest. He served as a military chaplain during World War I, as a spiritual director of a seminary, and as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
In 1925, Pope Pius XI appointed him a bishop and sent him to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitator. John chose “Obedientia et Pax” (Obedience and Peace) as his episcopal motto. Ten years later, he was sent to Turkey and Greece to care for their Catholic populations. During World War II, St. John used his diplomatic status to rescue as many Jews as he could.
In 1953, he was made a cardinal and Patriarch of Venice. When Pope Pius XII died, he was elected pope. He was a pastoral pope, a good shepherd who cared for his sheep, as illustrated by his social encyclicals.
On Oct. 11, 1962, John convened the Second Vatican Council, his greatest act as pope. He was affectionately known as “Good Pope John,” for his humility, simplicity, and profound goodness. He was canonized by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014, alongside Pope St. John Paul II, who beatified him.