Saints Today!

27 April 2014, Feast of the Divine Mercy, two new brothers in the Community of Saints.

Pope St. John XXIII

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Following the death of Pius XII, [Pope John XXIII] was elected Pope on 28 October 1958, taking the name of John XXIII.  In the five years of his pontificate he appeared to the world as an authentic image of the Good Shepherd.  Meek and gentle, resourceful and courageous, simple and ever active, he undertook various corporal and spiritual works of mercy, visiting prisoners and the sick, welcoming people of all nations and religions, demonstrating an exquisite sense of fatherhood to everyone.  His social magisterium was contained in the Encyclicals Mater et Magistra (1961) and Pacem in Terris (1963).

He convoked the Synod of Rome, instituted the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, and convened the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.  As Bishop of Rome, be visited parishes and churches in the historical centre and in the outskirts.  People saw in him a reflection of benignitas evangelica and called him the “good Pope”.  A profound spirit of prayer sustained him. He embodied, as the driving force behind a movement of renewal of the Church, the peace of one who trusts completely in the Lord.  He advanced resolutely along the paths of evangelization, ecumenism and dialogue, and showed a paternal concern to reach out to those of his children most in need.

Pope St. John Paul the Great

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Bishop Wojtyla [future Pope John Paul II] took part in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and made a significant contribution to the drafting of theConstitution Gaudium et Spes.  He also took part in the five assemblies of the Synod of Bishops prior to the start of his Pontificate.

On 16 October 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope and on 22 October he began his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church.

Pope John Paul II made 146 pastoral visits in Italy and, as the Bishop of Rome, he visited 317 of the current 322 Roman parishes.  His international apostolic journeys numbered 104 and were expressions of the constant pastoral solicitude of the Successor of Peter for all the Churches.

His principle documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters.  He also wrote five books: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (October 1994); Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (November 1996); Roman Triptych, meditations in poetry (March 2003); Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way (May 2004) and Memory and Identity (February 2005).

Pope John Paul II celebrated 147 beatifications, during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, and 51 canonizations, for a total of 482 saints.  He called 9 consistories, in which he created 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore).  He also presided at 6 plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.

From 1978, Pope John Paul II convoked 15 assemblies of the Synod of Bishops: 6 ordinary general sessions (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 2001), 1 extraordinary general session (1985) and 8 special sessions (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 [2] and 1999).

On 3 May 1981, an attempt was made on Pope John Paul II’s life in Saint Peter’s Square.  Saved by the maternal hand of the Mother of God, following a lengthy stay in the hospital, he forgave the attempted assassin and, aware of having received a great gift, intensified his pastoral commitments with heroic generosity.

Pope John Paul II also demonstrated his pastoral concern by erecting numerous dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and by promulgating Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and the Oriental Churches, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  He proclaimed the Year of Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist as well as the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, in order to provide the People of God with particularly intense spiritual experiences.  He also attracted young people by beginning the celebration of World Youth Day.

No other Pope met as many people as Pope John Paul II.  More than 17.6 million pilgrims attended his Wednesday General Audiences (which numbered over 1,160).  This does not include any of the other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 alone).  He met millions of the faithful in the course of his pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world.  He also received numerous government officials in audience, including 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings with Heads of State, as well as 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

Additional information and materials related to the canonization event are available at the Vatican website and from the USCCB.

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