Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was the fourth of fourteen children born to a family of sharecroppers that lived in a village in Lombardy. He was ordained a priest on 10 August 1904 and served in various posts including appointment as papal nuncio in France, Bulgaria and Greece. Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal in a consistory on 12 January 1953 in addition to naming him the Patriarch of Venice and the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca.
Roncalli was elected pope on 28 October 1958 at the age of 76 after eleven ballots, and he knew that his election was imminent given the type of candidate the cardinal electors wanted. He was the first pope to take the pontifical name of "John" upon his election in more than 500 years, and his choice settled the complicated question of official numbering attached to this papal name.
Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council, the first session opening on 11 October 1962. He did not live to see it to completion, dying on 3 June 1963 of stomach cancer, four-and-a-half years after his election, and two months after the completion of his final and famed encyclical, Pacem in Terris.
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