On Sunday 27 April Pope John XXIII will be declared a saint. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born in Sotto il Monte (Bergamo) on 25 November 1881, elected Pope on 28 October 1958 and died on 3 June 1963. He is remembered as the Pope who called the Second Vatican Council II.
John XXIII liked to recall often that as a boy he read the CatholicReadings, which he called “the first and most effective complement to my religious and civil education." He also read the three lives of the young men written by Don Bosco, and when he was still a child he learned about the death of Don Bosco from the Salesian Bulletin which came into his home.
He cultivated a special devotion to Mary Help of Christians. He took a picture of her from the Salesian Bulletin and hung it on the wall near his bed. He proclaimed her Patroness of the Council with the titles of Auxilium Christianorum andAuxilium Episcoporum.On 28 May 1963, when he was already seriously ill, he blessed with deep emotion the two crowns intended for the picture of Mary Help of Christians in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Rome.
During his life and throughout his pontificate he always showed great love for Don Bosco and the Salesians. He admired their prodigious spread all over the world. He spoke of Don Bosco as "the son of Mamma Margaret, in whom God's grace brought about a simple, good and innocent nature that inspired great deeds that still amaze mankind" (31 January 1959). His love for Don Bosco had roots deep in his heart. A wonderful spiritual affinity existed between the two great men of God, both of them optimistic, open to all that is good, always understanding and lovable.
In a talk he gave to the Salesian Cooperators on 31 May 1962, the Pope revealed the charm that St. John Bosco always exercised over him: "Don Bosco was the perfect ecclesiastic in his practice of prayer, personal testimony and action. His deeds aroused such enthusiasm in me as a young man that I decided at the age of fourteen to enter the priesthood in order to emulate his example." In 1960 at the solemn conclusion of the Roman Synod in St. Peter's Basilica, he said: " Today, Sunday 31 January, marks the liturgical commemoration of St. John Bosco. This name is a poem of grace and apostolate. From a small village in Piedmont he brought glory and great deeds of Christ's love to the farthest ends of the world."
But the most extraordinary manifestation of Pope John’s love for Don Bosco was given the previous year in 1959, when he decided to honour Don Bosco along with St. Pius X. Emotions were already high on Sunday 3 May 1959, when, to the joy of a vast multitude, the Pope went to the Temple of St. John Bosco at Cinecittà to pray to the saint who had influenced him so much in his youth. But the emotion and joy reached their peak on May 11, when the Vicar of Jesus Christ decided that Don Bosco be carried in triumphal procession along with Saint Pius X through the streets of Rome and St. Peter's Square. Speaking to the crowd in St. Peter's Square, the Pope altered the sentence often said of Don Bosco by his sons, "Rome admires you, Turin loves you!" and turning to St John Bosco the Holy Father exclaimed, "The whole world admires you, the whole world loves you!"
Source: Info ANS