50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF BLESSED JOHN XXIII

50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF BLESSED JOHN XXIII  

Blessed Pope John XXIII is fondly remembered as “Good Pope John”, the title which best reflects not only the physical features of his face, precious for so many faithful, but also his nature as a caring shepherd who never missed an opportunity to offer support with often just a few simple words to those most in need. Aware of being Pope and also Bishop of the city of Rome, he visited the sick, prisons and parishes, as part of a special pastoral outreach which was to mark not only his own pontificate, but future ones as well. Born on 25 November 1881 in a small town (Sotto il Monte) in the province of Bergamo, he entered the seminary at a very young age and excelled in his studies and spiritual formation. The day after he was ordained a priest he celebrated his very first Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica. He was personal secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo until 1914. After the tragic period of World War I, he was given important respons bilities by the Holy See, first in the Curia until 1925, and later in Bulgaria and France after his episcopal ordination. In 1953 he was created a Cardinal and appointed Patriarch of Venice. On 28 October 1958 he was elected Pope. His great inspiration was to convoke the historic Second Vatican Council, strongly desired and opened on 11 October 1962. He died after a brief illness on 3 June 1963. It was during those sad days of bidding him farewell that people came to fully appreciate how widely he was loved and the importance of his Magisterium. The postage stamp depicting him, which recalls the 50th anniversary of his death, is featured in a minisheet of nine values. On the left side is a brief excerpt of his most famous address, better known in Italian as “il discorso della Luna”, when he spoke to crowds gathered in a moonlit Saint Peter’s Square.