About Pacem In Terris:
In 1962 the cold war was in full swing. The United States and the former Soviet Union were slyly trying to out-maneuver each other in a geopolitical game of chess with nuclear weapons as their playing pieces. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.
The event brought John XXIII to write an encyclical in 1963 on peace. What he was trying to tell us is we lived in a world of danger and division and that our faith called us to overcome those divisions and in that way to reduce the dangers inherent in our time in history.
This document offered a new path to peace. What was so groundbreaking about it was he directly set his eyes on the entire world, so unlike his predecessors who addressed their social teaching to the church. John addressed his encyclical to all people of good will.
Fifty years later this encyclical still speaks to the world about the danger that he was addressing, because it is a danger beyond the danger of Moscow and Washington. That danger has declined by 75 per cent.
But John XXIII didn’t focus on the just war theory for questions of non-violence. What John gives is a gift that was critiqued as naive optimism. He was thinking outside the traditional nation-state box and pushed the responsibilities and rights of the one human family in the international community. He said love impels us to have responsibilities to build peace in our families, our communities, our church and in all of society.
To be a follower of Christ implies we be a source of love in our society. And that was true in 1963 and is really true today.
On this anniversary of Pacem In Terris we remember and honor the Good Pope John, Saint John XXIII.
About the Autographed Photo in a Silver Presentation Frame: A Commentary by Father Richard Kunst, Curator
Here is Father’s Commentary:
The term, ‘presentation frame’, is used by collectors to describe a framed photo signed by a personality–whether a pope or a head of state–when it is a gift from that person. So the frame itself is actually important, and in this case, this silver frame has the coat of arms of Pope John XXIII at the top, which shows that it came right from him directly. So it’s a great black and white portrait of him, and he signed it with his name in 1960.
Viewing this photo reminds us that each priest and bishop, and each Holy Father has a unique personality. And John XXIII really had a unique personality. He was referred to as ‘Good Pope John,’ and he was a very jovial guy. He was quite large and his personality shone through every inch of his body. He was such a happy man, and people felt good around him. He was always joking. When he was first elected, (and we’ve seen this on film) the story is that when he appeared as the newly elected pope, he told the people to go home and kiss their children for him.
Also, he had the famous answer to the question, “How many people work in the Vatican?” And he answered, “Oh, about half of them!” And so we can see his personality was bigger than life. His body was bigger than life. He was just a happy, joy-filled man. And we often saw that personality manifested.
People oftentimes referred to him as a very grandfatherly individual, that he had a Grandpa-like quality, both in his genuineness and in his joy. One of the stories that floats around Rome is that he snuck out of the Vatican sometimes and would suddenly appear at one of the colleges or universities or hospitals or a religious order. He’d just show up at the door, for supper, maybe. In a black cassock! He would leave the Vatican as a simple priest. And of course, this was to the horror of the Swiss Guard.
He’s not the only pope to have done this. Several others have as well. But John XXIII seems to have the most urban legends around his leave-taking from the Vatican for a dinner or any number of things.
There is still a great devotion to John XXIII who was beatified by Pope John Paul II—and, of course, canonized by Pope Francis in April 2014.
John XXIII was beatified with Pope Pius IX. Even today in St. Peter’s Basilica, you can see Pope John’s body. At first he was buried in the crypt. For his beatification they exhumed the body and then put him in the altar of the ‘Death of St. Jerome,’ his favorite altar.
I have been able to say Mass over his body several times. In fact, I said Mass there the year he was beatified.
It’s a great experience to see the Holy Father, the Good Pope John, with your own eyes. When you’re at his altar, there is always someone praying there.
Here is a link to all artifacts belonging to or associated with the Good Pope John. Also, please visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds/John XXIII to access additional information about him.