The Congregation for Divine Worship on Thursday added Saints John XXIII and John Paul II to the universal calendar of the modern Roman rite, with both their feasts observed during October. According to the Sept. 11 issue of the Vatican weekly L'Osservatore Romano, the decree naming the saints’ new feast days was issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments following requests to do so from around the world. While the feasts of both late Popes had already been available to some dioceses since they had been beatified, every diocese throughout the world is now free to commemorate these Popes liturgically. Both are given the rank of optional memorial, meaning they may be celebrated, but they do not have to be. The optional memorial of St. John XXIII is observed on Oct. 11, the day he opened the Second Vatican Council. The second reading at the Office of Readings for his feast, published in the decree, is taken from “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia,” as his speech on that occasion is known. St. John Paul II's optional memorial is observed on Oct. 22, the day of his Inaugural Mass as Bishop of Rome. The two late Popes were canonized together on April 27. St. John XXIII was born in Sotto il Monte in Italy on Nov. 25, 1881, as fourth of 13 children. He was elected Roman Pontiff Oct. 28, 1958. Known as “Good Pope John,” he is best remembered for his encyclical “Pacem in Terris” and for his calling of the Second Vatican Council. St. John Paul II, who was from Poland, is remembered for his charismatic nature, love of youth, world travels, and role in the fall of communism in Europe during his 27-year papacy.
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