St. John XXIII died 51 years ago in the presence of his aide, Loris Capovilla, who was created a cardinal this year by Pope Francis. Cardinal Capovilla describes that moment to Vatican Radio:
“I said to him, Holy Father, there are only a few of us here in this room, but if you were to look out of your window on to the square you’d see crowds of people. I thought he’d reply in his usual reserved manner; instead, he remarked: “Naturally that’s the way it should be: the pope is dying, I love them, they love me.”
St. John XXIII has gone down in history as the ordinary man who astonished the world, by launching the Catholic Church into one of its most momentous epochs by calling the Second Vatican Council.
But, according to Cardinal Capovilla, to describe Pope John all you need to say is: “Two eyes and a smile, innocence and goodness.”
St. Pope John’s aide has often highlighted how rather than cultivate nostalgia our new saint was wont to look toward the future.
Asked to explain, he says: “We are not custodians of a shrine, a reliquary or a museum. As Pope John himself said we are called to cultivate a garden where the seed of the Word Incarnate is set in an effort to foster the Advent of a New Pentecost, a new Easter, a new Spring. Not just for our personal happiness but for the happiness of all of humanity. It’s a long journey, we are far from our final destination, one that is not there merely to safeguard but to share with the people of the world.”
Referring to the encyclical of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, Cardinal Capovilla specifies how the gospel is the Good News. But he adds: “What is this Good News? It’s that I am a son of God and God does not abandon me.
“It’s wonderful to hear the pope say almost every day that God does not reject anyone but accepts everyone.”