Former secretary to St John XXIII dies, aged 100

Cardinal Capovilla

The former secretary to St John XXIII and the oldest member of the College of Cardinals died yesterday at the age of 100, reports the Catholic News Service.

Italian Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who served St John XXIII before and after he became Pope, died in Bergamo, near Milan.

Mgr Ettore Malnati, writing in La Stampa on the news of Cardinal Capovilla’s death, said he “kept alive the legacy of Pope John.”

“Capovilla has devoted his whole life in the style of [Blessed John XXIII] to keep alive the dialogue with the great religious tradition of Judaism; with the community of Taizé in which he made a gift of a Pope John compendium which, I can testify, was held in the cell that was of Brother Schutz; with the various Orthodox Churches," he wrote.

"Patriarch Bartholomew met him personally in Sotto il Monte. [He] kept epistolary contacts with men of culture, journalists, politicians, like Gorbachev, workers, youth, businessmen, missionaries, priests and people of all faiths and even non-believers.”

Cardinal Capovilla was born in Pontelongo, Italy, on Oct. 14, 1915, and ordained to the priesthood in 1940.

A journalist before starting to work for the future saint, he was an energetic and eloquent storyteller, drawing on his remarkable and vividly detailed memory.

When the freshly named patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, chose 37-year-old Father Capovilla as his private secretary in 1953, a sceptical adviser told the Cardinal -- who would become Pope John XXIII -- that the priest looked too sickly to bear the strain of his new job.

But the Cardinal outlived his employer by half a century and was a dedicated custodian of his legacy, running a small museum dedicated to the saint's memory in the late Pope's native town of Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, near Milan.

A friend and confidant, he was by the Pope's side during a pivotal point in the church and the world's history: for the launch of the Second Vatican Council and the escalation of political and military tensions of the Cold War.

Photo: CNS

FULL COVERAGE

St John XXIII's aide, oldest member College of Cardinals, dies at 100 (CNS)

Italian cardinal who was John XXIII’s private secretary dies aged 100 (The Catholic Herald)

Capovilla is dead, the former secretary of Pope John XXIII (Vatican Insider)