Pope John XXIII and suffering

In these days the mortal remains of Pope John XXIII were brought to Bergamo and Sotto il Monte, his native place.

It is the favourable occasion to remember his particular tenderness to the suffering, the sickness and above all to the most vulnerable creatures: the children.

The encounters of Good Pope with the children remain very famous. When he visited those admitted in the Hospital of Child Jesus, he felt being called by a child: come here, Pope, come here Pope… He went near the bed and asked: what is your name? Angel, Pope he said. “See, dear child, once they called me also Angelo, but for some days they have asked me to change the name… Now they call me John.” In another ward of the same hospital a blind child asked him: “I know that you are Pope but I can’t see. However I love you a lot still.” In the eyes of Pope John, there came out two drops of cry and perhaps for the first time he remained without words.”

But the most touching episode was that of the audience given to the American girl codemned to leukemia, who expressed the desire to see the Pope before dying. The girl wore the white garment of the first Holy Communion and, with her red and chubby cheeks, seemed to be healthy, but could hardly stand by herself.

Pope John went to visit her, held her by hand and made her sit near him. Then ‘they started speaking to each other” for about 45 minutes: whatever they spoke to each other such a long time, a time which the Pope rarely gave to great personalities remains a mystery; even when we think of the approximate english of Pope John and of the slang of the American girld very difficult to understand. But the souls, simple and holy, that of the Pope and those of the children, understand each other without much discourses also.

prayer of the blood donor, written by St. John xxiii

O Jesus our Saviour, who said: whatever you did to one of these little children, you did to me (Mt 25: 40), look graciously towards the offering we make. The anguishes of the suffering, your brothren and ours, push us to give a little of our blood, because the vigour of life return to them; but we wish that such gift be directed to You, who poured out your precious blood for us. Make, O Lord, our life fruitful for us, for our dear ones, for the sick, sustain us in the sacrifice, because it be always generous, humble and silent. Make that with faith we know to find your face in the misery in order to readily help them; inspire and guide our actions with the pure flame of charity so that if fulfilled in union with you reach the perfection and be always acceptable to the Father in heaven. Amen.