Saturday, October 11, 2014

First feast day today for St. John XXIII

Today is the first-ever Catholic feast day for newly-canonized Pope St. John XXIII.

He was pope from 1958 to 1963, and Israeli flags were lowered to half mast when he died.
Last year, for the 50th anniversary of his death, Jerusalem hosted a wonderful conference which brought together top scholars and high-ranking clergy from Israel and the world.
You can enlarge the photos 2x and perhaps you will recognize the names and faces of some of the speakers.

International Conference: Honoring the memory of Pope John XXIII
The Shoah, the Jewish People & the State of Israel
Day long conference covering topics such as: Roncalli and the Shoah, Roncalli and the Establishment of the State of Israel, John XXIII, Vatican II and Nostra Aetate, and The Legacy of John XXIII for Catholic-Jewish Relations – Europe & the World

See the program of the seminar here, including a video of President Peres' thoughts on "The Good Pope," as Roncalli was popularly known.


The large audience got to see the hour-long prize-winning Israeli film "I Am Joseph, Your Brother."

 (Read more about the time the Pope first spoke that  Biblical verse to his Jewish guests.)

The movie's website begins
During the 1960s, Pope John XXIII met with a delegation of Jews and said, "I am Joseph Your Brother" marking the beginning of a new relationship between Jews and Catholics. Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II to Israel in 2000, I am Joseph, Your Brother assesses and reflects on the changes that have occurred in the often difficult and turbulent relationship that has existed for centuries between Jews and Christians, Judaism and Catholicism, and more recently, between the State of Israel and the Vatican.

Some of the pearls I remember well from that day:

When the Church assigned Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli to several Eastern European countries during World War II,  he was able to save up to 100,000 Jews from the hands of the Nazis, mostly through what some call "Operation Baptism."

One speaker predicted that when history gets straightened out, Israel may someday have streets named for Pope John XXIII and he will finally be included in Yad Vashem's Righteous of the Nations.

On June 3,  the official day of his death, our Knessent last year  held a special session on Roncalli.

A woods has been named for him in the Galilee, near Mt. Precipice.

It was this pope who convened the Second Vatican Council from which came Nostra Aetate. 
I must say, in the last decades Catholic-Jewish relations have come a long way, in both directions.
The Saint of the Day website gives these hopeful last words from Saint John XXIII:
On his deathbed he said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.” 


Cloudia said...

Lovely hopeful and needed now. Thanks, D


Sara said...

That must have been an inspiring day for the participants/attendees at the conference. I don't recognize any of the people/names but I know I would have enjoyed listening to what they had to say.

Hels said...

I am not sure how many popes there have been... 270ish? But without a doubt Pope John XXIII was the most inclusive, the most gentle, the most loved.

crystal said...

How interesting, Dina. I had no idea that pope was so liked in Israel. I do like him too because of Vatican 2. I read a bit about Nostra Aetate a few years ago and posted an except aboutn it back then ....

William Kendall said...

The priest at the left in the first shot looks remarkably like someone I've come across here from time to time- but I know he's not in the priesthood.

Mary Gerdt said...

Thanks for this fascinating history. What a difference one person can make.

VP said...

Yes, he is still remembered as il Papa Buono...

Reader Wil said...

Pope John XXIII was also loved by the Protestant Christians. He died when my husband- to- be and I were in Brussels to buy lace for my weddingdress. For us he was the best pope we had ever seen in Rome.

Louisette said...

Hello,Interesing post ,greeting from Belgium.