by Anura Guruge
>> Just approved paperback version — Mar. 6, 2014.
>> “Pope John XXIII: 101 Facts & Trivia Book” — Mar. 1, 2014.
1) When did the future pope arrive in Rome for Pius XII’s (#261) funeral and where did he stay in Rome prior to the conclave?
2) Who was the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church in charge of the 1958 sede vacante and when had he been appointed as such?
3) Starting the day after Pius XII’s funeral, i.e., October 14, Cardinal Roncalli, wearing the obligatory purple cassock, started attending the daily pre-conclave, ‘general congregation’ meetings that were held in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall. All cardinals in Rome are expected to attend these collegial, cardinals-only gathering where they deal with all of the logistical issues pertaining to the sede vacante, in particular the conclave. [General congregations prior to the funeral would have dealt with the funeral arrangements.] The general congregations attended by Cardinal Roncalli had to deal with a rather unusual and quite unappealing ‘problem’ – that most of the time would have been outside their normal purview. What was this ‘problem’ that they as a group handled with aplomb on October 20th, five days prior to the conclave?
4) What single action by Cardinal Roncalli in the early days of his pre-conclave stay in Rome has since been interpreted as proof positive that he was indeed aware and sensitive to the possibility that he would be the next pope?
5) During the afternoons of his pre-conclave stay in Rome, following the general congregations in the mornings, Cardinal Roncalli would try to visit some of his favorite churches in Rome. Having spent eight years in Rome, from 1900 to 1904 and 1921 to 1925, first as a young seminarian and then as a curialist, Angelo Roncalli had a history with some of the Roman churches. Early on in the sede vacante he visited two churches. First, Santa Maria (Regina Cœli) in Montesanto [St. Mary (Queen of Heaven) on the Holy Mountain], the church facing the northern gate of the Aurelian Walls, where he had been ordained 54 years ago, on August 10, 1904. Then, the minor basilica of (Sant’Ambrogio) e Carlo al Corso [a church dedicated to St. Charles (Carlo) Borromeo], on Via del Corso, where he had been consecrated as the titular Archbishop of Areopoli on March 19, 1925. On Wednesday, October 22, 1958, he visited the crypt of St. Peter’s where he had celebrated his first Mass the day after his ordination. [q.v. #31] What were the last two churches that he was known to have visited, on Thursday, October 23rd, two days prior to the start of the conclave?
6) What were the prevailing sentiments ahead of the 1958 conclave vis-à-vis the selection of the next pope?
7) Who were the papabili leading up to the 1958 conclave?
8) What was the ‘cell’ assigned to Cardinal Roncalli for the conclave?
9) What was the seating arrangement for the cardinal electors at this 1958 conclave – a tradition that was to soon end since this was to be the last conclave where the number of cardinals met what long held criteria?
10) How many cardinals attended the 1958 conclave and what where the demographics?
11) How many rounds of balloting were supposed to have taken place in the 1958 conclave and when did these ballots take place?
12) What is the conjecture as to the supposed voting at the 1958 conclave?
13) Upon accepting his canonical election, the new pope was asked by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Tisserant, as to what name he wished to be known by. He replied ‘Vocabor Johannes’ (I will be called John). This name had not been used by a pope since the time of the opportunistic, schematic, onetime bona fide buccaneer, antipope John (XXIII) [1410 to 1415]. He had been an antipope during the latter stages of the Great Western Schism that, in the end, had three competing claimants for the papacy.
14) What was the long cherished conclave tradition, inexplicably overlooked by his two predecessors, viz. Pius XI (#260) & Pius XII (#261), that was joyfully reinstated by the newly elected John XXIII?
15) Is it at all conceivable that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, per the ‘Siri Thesis’, received thirty-five or more votes at some point during the 1958 conclave and was elected pope only for that election to be overruled and overturned?
16) John XXIII, in what would become a practice emulated by John Paul I (#264), John Paul II (#265), Benedict XVI (#266) and Francis (#267), asked the cardinal electors to spend another night with him ‘in conclave’ so that he could seek counsel from them over dinner in a family atmosphere. The pope seeking this extension caused some unexpected disruptions to the proceedings. This necessitated the new pope having to make two early pronouncements. What transpired and what did the pope have to say?
Some of these are easy. The answers to some of these can be found in my ‘The Next Pope (2011)‘ or one of the ‘Conclave‘ books.
IF you are still intrigued and stuck on any of the others, these 16 questions happen to be the 16 ‘bullets’ from “Pope John XXIII: 101 Facts & Trivia“.