Archive for December 24th, 2014

In the evening, Cardinal Luige Traglia, John’s vicar for Rome, celebrated an outdoor mass for the thousands drawn to Saint Peter’s Square.  The spring breeze was so soft that the altar candles barely flickered, and the murmur of prayer seemed to hang in the air even after the mass ended.  A little before eight, Cardinal Traglia spoke the traditional words of dismissal, “Ite, missa est” (“Go, the Mass is ended”).
And at that same moment, upstairs in the dimly lit bedroom where Sister Death waited, the man born Angelo Roncalli and destined for sainthood as John XXIII, took a last gasping breath and died.
The Vatican press office issued the final bulletin:  “He suffers no more.”  Beyond the bedroom window, television lights swept across the piazza, packed with people, many on their knees.  And beyond the piazza, the world grieved, too.
Other popes had decried war and defended peace, praised virtue and condemned evil.  But in the experience of living men, none before John XXIII had ever moved the church toward the mainstream of human endeavor, or welcomed all men and all creeds to the good fight, or made it seem even remotely possible that they could win.
And even more deeply, the world’s millions were caught up with the man who lived beneath the robes of the supreme pontiff of the universal Church, bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, and sovereign of Vatican City.  To the multitudes some devout, some disaffected, the peasant face with its undisguised warmth meant more than all the weighty titles.  “I am your brother,” he had told them.  And they had come to believe him.
    —    Lawrence Elliot
From his book:  “I Will Be Called John
On This Day In:
2013 I Hear Voices
2012 Positive Thoughts
Hope Works
2011 Look! Up In The Sky…
Humility Before The Unknowable

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