Bergamo, Italy, Jun 29, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Bergamo announced yesterday that next year the body of St. John XXIII will return to the city, his native diocese, for a visit expected to last about two weeks.
In a June 27 statement the diocese announced that Pope Francis had approved the request of Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo for the body of St. John XXIII to “return to Bergamo.”
Currently exposed for veneration inside St. Peter’s Basilica, the saint’s body will likely return to his home diocese around June 3, 2018, to mark the 55th anniversary of his 1963 death.
St. John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in Sotto il Monte, a village of Italy’s Bergamo province, Nov. 25, 1881, as the fourth of 13 children. He was ordained a priest of the Bergamo diocese in 1904, at the age of 22, serving there until he was selected for the Vatican’s diplomatic corps and consecrated a bishop in 1925.
In 1953 he was made a cardinal and appointed Patriarch of Venice, and he was elected Bishop of Rome Oct. 28, 1958.
Known commonly as “Good Pope John,” he is most remembered for his 1963 encyclical Pacem in terris and for his calling of the Second Vatican Council.
He was beatified in 2000, and was canonized April 17, 2014. While two miracles are typically required for a non-martyr saint to be canonized, in the case of Bl. John XXIII, Pope Francis waived the rule and allowed him to be canonized with just one miracle formally approved by the Vatican.
The urn containing his body is expected to stop Bergamo and the Pope’s small, native town of Sotto il Monte for roughly two weeks. However, the details are still being discussed with the Holy See, and will be announced by the diocese when the decisions are finalized.
In comments coinciding with the announcement of St. John XXIII’s return to Bergamo, Bishop Beschi offered his thanks to Pope Francis “for this gesture of paternal love toward our diocese.”
“To think that Saint Pope John XXIII will return to his land makes me remember what he said just a few months after his election as Pope, in an audience with a group from Bergamo,” the bishop said, quoting John XXIII’s wish that the pilgrims “always advance in goodness, in virtue, in generosity, so that the people of Bergamo be always worthy of Bergamo.”
The presence of the saint’s relics will challenge both society and the local Church, he said, noting that while the late Pope studied outside of Bergamo, he learned the most essential things during his time growing up in the area.
It is from these roots that St. John XXIII learned “to look at the positive aspects more than the negative, and to consider, in relationships with others, what unites more than what divides,” he said.
Calling the saint a “schoolyard” where one is taught to look at life and the future “with optimism and to consider people with esteem and confidence,” Bishop Beschi urged the people of Bergamo to return to their roots in order to “renew that same sap of grace that unites us to him.”