|Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII|
You can visit the house where he was born in the hamlet of Brusicco and the summer residence at Camaitino that he used when he was a cardinal, now a history museum dedicated to him.
This scattered rural commune, which is a short bus or car journey to the west of Bergamo, has since been renamed Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII.
Pope John was born Angelo Roncalli on 25 November 1881, the third of 13 children in a farming family.
He was tutored by a local priest before entering the seminary at Bergamo at the age of 12. He went on to study theology in Rome and rose to become Cardinal Patriarch of Venice before being elected Pope in 1958.
His religious studies were interrupted by a spell in the Italian army but he was ordained in 1904. He served as secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo for nine years before becoming an army chaplain in World War One.
After the war he worked in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece on behalf of the church helping to locate prisoners of war.
In 1944 he was appointed nuncio (envoy) to Paris to help with the post war effort in France. He became a Cardinal in 1953 and expected to spend his last years serving the church in Venice .
But when he was elected Pope by his fellow cardinals in the conclave of 20 October 1958 it was a turning point in the church’s history.
Although he was Pope for less than five years, he enlarged the College of Cardinals to make it more representative, consecrated 14 new bishops for Asia and Africa, advanced ecumenical relations and worked for world peace
Since his death on 3 June 1963 his birthplace and the museum set up to commemorate his life have become popular destinations for pilgrims.
There is also a permanent reminder of him in Bergamo’s Città Bassa (lower town) where the main thoroughfare from the railway station to Porta Nuova has been renamed Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII.
Opening hours: Casa Natale (birthplace) at Brusicco 8.30 am to 5.30 pm (winter); Museo di Papa Giovanni (Pope John Museum) at Camaitino 8.30 am to 11.30 and 2.30 pm to 6.30 (all year round).
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