Galatians 5.1-6; Psalm 118; Luke 11.37-41
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963) was elected Pope on 28th October 1958 after 11 ballots. Already 76 years of age, he astounded those who thought he would be a mere caretaker pope by summoning the Second Vatican Council.
Born of sharecroppers in the Bergamo province of Lombardy, he received a doctoral degree in canon law prior to his ordination to the priesthood. After service in his home diocese, he was appointed by Pope Pius XI as Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria in 1925; in 1935 he moved to be Apostolic Visitor to Turkey and Greece. When World War II broke out he worked with the Jewish underground, probably saving the lives of thousands of Jews. After the war he enthusiastically supported the establishment of the nation of Israel. He became Nuncio to France, and then Patriarch of Venice until his election to the papacy.
The first session of Vatican II met in October 1962. Already Pope John had been diagnosed with the stomach cancer which would lead to his death the following June. His feast day is the first day of the Council’s meeting.