Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Pope John XXIII - True Story?

Received the following in an e-mail from my parishes deacon. I wonder if it's really true...

As you know Pope John XXIII was from very humble peasant stock and only succeeded to the Papal throne as the Cardinals thought, at his advanced age, he would be a good caretaker Pope until someone more suitable could be found. But Pope John was quite a clever fellow and had a tremendous sense of humour.
Shortly after being elected he was asked to sit for a portrait by an artist who, by all accounts, was not very good. His portraits of others bore little, if any resemblance, to their subjects.
Pope John agreed to sit and eventually the portrait was finished. A grand unveiling at a Vatican Reception was arranged. The whole Papal Court was in attendance: Cardinals, Bishops, Monsignori, etc. etc., as well as all the Ambassadors then accredited to the Vatican.
When all the guests were assembled Pope John made his entry. This was unusual because his predecessors had all been carried in on the Papal 'sedilia.' But Pope John came in on his own two feet - actually walking. A Pope walking, everybody thought, was absurd!
The new portrait, suitably covered, stood in the corner of the room on a dais, so that everybody could see. The artist, as is the custom, stood next to his finished painting nervously twitching. Pope John was eventually invited to come forward to officially unveil his portrait. This he did! It was dreadful, and everybody who took a closer look agreed. But what intrigued them all was that the Pope had, himself, asked to add something to the portrait.
Was it his signature?
On closer scrutiny they found that he had added the following:
"John 6:20"

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