Pope John XXIII dies at the age of 81 in Rome. Pope John XXIII held office for only 5 years, but he has become and will remain one of the most popularly beloved popes in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope John XXIII is best known for convening the second ecumenical council at the Vatican, known as Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council differed from previous councils which were usually convened to correct some doctrinal error which was becoming too popular.
John XXIII wanted a council which would be positive instead of negative. He wanted a council which promoted mercy, faith and the pastoral role of the church rather than simply strict adherence to a new statement of orthodoxy.
The Second Vatican Council was also therefore ecumenical in nature: John reached out to representatives of other Christian groups to add their voices.
On September 23, 1962, an X-ray revealed that John XXIII was suffering from an advanced case of stomach cancer. This information was not made public because John hoped to continue guiding the Vatican II council for as long as possible.