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 a number of posts, including papal nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him the Patriarch of Venice.
Roncalli was elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 77 after 11 ballots. His selection was unexpected, and Roncalli himself had come to Rome with a return train ticket to Venice. He was the first pope to take the pontifical name of "John" upon election in more than 500 years, and his choice settled the complicated question of official numbering attached to this papal name due to the antipope of this 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.
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