10 Quotes: Sense of Humour of Pope John XXIII

1. Visiting a hospital he asked a boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said either a policeman or a pope. “I would go in for the police if I were you,” the Holy Father said. “Anyone can become a pope, look at me!”

2. “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about the serious problems afflicting the world and I tell myself, I must talk to the pope about it. Then the next day when I wake up I remember that I am the pope.”

3. In reply to a reporter who asked, “How many people work in the Vatican?”, he reportedly said: “About half of them.”

4. When a cardinal complained that a rise in Vatican salaries meant a particular usher earned as much as the cardinal, the pope remarked: “That usher has 10 children; I hope the cardinal doesn’t.”

5. When he went to visit a friend at the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit in the evening, the nun answering the door said: “Holy Father, I’m the mother superior of the Holy Spirit.” He replied: “Lucky you! What a job! I’m just the ‘servant of the servants of God.’”

6. Not long after he was elected pope, Blessed John was walking in the streets of Rome. A woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing what she said, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”

7. He once wrote: “There are three ways to face ruin: women, gambling and farming. My father chose the most boring one.”

8. When he was cardinal and patriarch of Venice, the future pope was talking with a wealthy city resident and told him, “You and I have one thing in common: money. You have a lot and I have nothing at all. The difference is I don’t care about it.”

9. When a journalist asked the then-patriarch of Venice what he would be if he could live his life all over again, the future pope said, “Journalist.” Then he said with a smile, “Now let us see if you have the courage to tell me that, if you could do it all over again, you’d be the patriarch!”

10. A Vatican official told the pope it would be “absolutely impossible” to open the Second Vatican Council by 1963. “Fine, we’ll open it in 1962,” he answered. And he did.

As one archbishop told me, ‘You can’t pay bills with holy cards.’ Having an event to which hundreds of thousands of people attend, is expensive. Better to get some corporate sponsors than to take money out of the poor box for it.
—  Father Thomas Reese, a reporter with National Catholic Reporter • Discussing the Vatican’s decision to accept corporate sponsorship for this weekend's canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Among the companies chipping in: Food mega-giant Nestlé and Italian bank Intesa SanPaolo.

Despite his relatively short Papacy (1958-1963) and the expectations that he would be a transitional, caretaker Pope due to his advanced age, Pope John XXIII was not only one of the most important and influential Popes in centuries, but one of the most beloved Pontiffs in the history of the Church.  Today, John XXIII – who will be canonized alongside Pope John Paul II and become Saint John XXIII later this year – is affectionately remembered as “the Good Pope” due to his genial manner and easy smile.

Pope John, one of fourteen children born to poor Italian sharecroppers, also had a wonderful, often playful, sense of humor that he wasn’t afraid to exhibit despite the solemnity of his position and his age (he was just shy of 78 years old when he was elected in the 1958 Conclave).  The Vatican Gardens were a place of meditation and solitude for John XXIII’s immediate predecessors.  Pope Pius XI often walked through the Gardens in an attempt to bolster his faltering health and the intensely serious Pope Pius XII pondered the troubles of a world at war while strolling through the Gardens.

Pope John XXIII put the Vatican Gardens to good use, as well.  The Good Pope requested that maintenance workers tinker with the sprinklers which were part of the irrigation system in the Gardens so that they could be triggered to spray jets of water at unsuspecting guests.  Many cardinals who were asked to take a stroll through the Gardens with Pope John XXIII returned to the Vatican drenched by his trick sprinklers.

The Good Pope’s successor, Pope Paul VI, did not continue the tradition.  He had the trick sprinklers fixed when he was elected to the Papacy following John XXIII’s death in 1963.

Official Prayers for Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II

Prayer to St. John XXIII:

St. John XXIII, Your simple and meek persona carried the scent of God & the desire of goodness was inflamed in the heart. Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to mourn the darkness but rather to enkindle the light, bringing Christ everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

Prayer to St. John Paul II:

St. John Paul, from the window of Heaven grant us your blessing! Bless the Church that you have loved, served and guided, pushing Her with courage towards the paths of the world to bring Christ to all, and all to Christ. From the window of Heaven, where we see you next to Mary, send down upon us all the blessing of God. Amen.


Popes John XXIII, John Paul II declared saints of Catholic Church

Pope Francis proclaimed two of his predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday at a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square attended by hundreds of thousands of faithful from around the world.Francis read the formal proclamation at a canonization Mass which was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who resigned last year. (Reuters)

Find more news related pictures on our photo galleries page.