Pope John XXIII was one of the most popular pontiffs of all time. Born into a poor farming family in Lombardy, Angelo Roncalli became a priest at the age of 23. Serving as an army chaplain in World War I, Roncalli later entered the diplomatic service of the Vatican. He was Pope Pius XII’s representative in Bulgaria, Greece and France.
Concluding his diplomatic career, Roncalli was appointed Patriarch of Venice at the age of 71. Upon the death of Pope Pius XII on 9 October 1958, Roncalli participated in the conclave to elect his successor.
Roncalli was 77 when he was elected to the papacy. Following the 19- year pontificate of Pius XII, Roncalli was elected as a “caretaker” pope. The Cardinals believed that Roncalli would be a dependable pontiff and enlarge the college of cardinals from which papal candidates were drawn.
A year into his pontificate, John decided to convene an Ecumenical Council, a meeting of the world’s bishops. The agenda was to bring the Church up to date in many areas. To his surprise, John’s proposal for a Council was greeted with indifference by some and hostility by many.
John endeared himself to Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his wisdom and sense of humour. In contrast to some of his predecessors, John was friendly and did not stand on ceremony. In Good Pope John, Michael Collins traces the life and times of this remarkable man. The reader travels with Angelo Roncalli from his birthplace in Sotto il Monte to the Vatican, gaining an insight into the mind and soul of Good Pope John.