John XXIII died on June 3 1963

Pope Francis has described John XXIII as a “model of holiness” on the 50th anniversary of the Blessed’s death.

The Pope made the comment at his morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, his residence at the Vatican.

John XXIII died on June 3 1963, aged 81. He was beatified by John Paul II on September 2 2000.

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John XXIII, who was born Angelo Roncalli, served as Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece during the Second World War. He created a network in Istanbul that helped Jews fleeing the Nazis. A petition calling for him to be declared “Righteous Among the Nations” was presented to Yad Vashem in February 2011.

The Pope will receive 2,000 pilgrims from John XXIII’s native province of Bergamo in St Peter’s Basilica tonight.

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