Pope John XXIII

June 10, 2013

VATICAN CITY - The life of Blessed John XXIII is a lesson in how obedience and trust in God lead to interior peace that is recognized by and shared with others, Pope Francis said.

Joining a pilgrimage of 3,000 people from the late pope's home diocese of Bergamo, Italy, Pope Francis prayed at the tomb of Blessed John June 3, the 50th anniversary of his death.

Blessed John was and still is referred to by many as "the good pope," Pope Francis said. "How wonderful it is to find a priest who is really good, filled with goodness."

Pope Francis, 76, told members of the pilgrimage, "Those like me, who are of a certain age, remember well the emotion" surrounding the last days of Pope John's life in 1963.

"St. Peter's Square became an open-air shrine, day and night welcoming faithful of every age and social condition in trepidation and prayer for the pope's health," he said.

The pope said Blessed John's Journal of a Soul makes it clear that his peacefulness was the result of a spiritual journey marked by discipline, by recognizing and taming selfish desires and by an obedience that allowed the Holy Spirit to work through his superiors.

The notion of spiritual discipline needs to be rediscovered, Pope Francis said.

"If we learn to let ourselves be led by the Holy Spirit, if we learn to mortify our selfishness to make room for the love of the Lord and his well, then we will find peace, then we will know how to be peacemakers and spread peace around us."

Pope Francis said Pope John's decision to convoke the Second Vatican Council was the result of a "prophetic intuition" based on his "love for the tradition of the Church and his awareness of its need for constant updating."

The council and Pope John's "offering his life for its good outcome," he said, are "a shining light for the journey ahead of us."

Blessed John XXIII was born Angelo Roncalli in Sotto il Monte Nov. 25, 1881. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Bergamo in 1904.

Between 1925 and 1953, he was a Vatican diplomat in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and France. He was named archbishop of Venice in 1953.