Pope John XXIII was head of the Catholic Church from October 1958 until his death in 1963.
Born in 1881 as Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, he was one of thirteen children in a family of sharecroppers who lived in a village in Lombardy.
Pope John had a major impact on the Catholic Church, opening it up to dramatic unexpected changes including:
– prohibiting bishops from interfering with local elections
– “Ostpolitik” engaged in dialogue with the communist countries of Eastern Europe
– naming the first cardinals from Africa, Japan, and the Philippines
– promoting ecumenical movements in cooperation with other Christian faiths.