Cardinal Roncalli, the Patriarch of Venice, arrives in Rome following the death of Pope Pius XII with absolutely no intention of becoming pope. He has dedicated his life to others in full accord with the evangelistic message, but has no personal ambition.
However, the Conclave called to appoint the new Pope is more complex than expected. None of the cardinals whose names have been put forward manage to win the two thirds of the votes needed to be elected pope. Roncalli’s name comes into the arena…
Shortly after Pope John XXIII steers the Second Vatican Council towards a renewed approach towards Christianity, encouraging the Church to ‘interfere’ in the Cold War conflict between the USSR and the USA and addressing his encyclical letter ‘Pacem in terris’ not only to Catholics but to ‘all men of good will’. Above all, he becomes the people’s pope: a pope who speaks about the moon, who hugs children and who visits prisons and hospitals. After just 4 years as Pope, he dies on 3 June 1963.