Friday, May 22, 2015

Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII, also known as the Smiling Pope, was a pope elected to be a caretaker. No one expected him to do much, being elected shortly before his 77th birthday, but they were wrong. In 1962, four years after his election, he called the Second Vatican Council, the most recent ecumenical council to date. He was recently canonized on April 27, 2014 alongside another great pope in Pope John Paul II. After Pope John XXIII's canonization, two books came out to celebrate this great man's life and legacy. Today, I would like to tell you about both of them.

The Story of Pope John XXIII is a graphic novel illustrated by Joe Sinnott. For those of you unfamiliar with Joe Sinnott, he is a comic book artist (primarily an inker) who is known for his work with Marvel, primarily the Fantastic Four. To those of us comic book lovers, his work is legendary. In 1962, he began work on The Story of Pope John XXIII. Last year, through a Kickstarter campaign, they were able to bring these comics back to life in a beautiful 10" x 15" hardcover.

The story is divided into nine chapters or issues. The first chapter discusses what John XXIII was like as a pope. Reading through this section, we get a better insight into what kind of leader he was. You can also see a lot of similarities between his papacy and those of John Paul I and Francis. By this, I mean that he cared about the laity and went out of his way to interact with them, talk with them, and bless them. The other chapters of the book covers Pope John XXIII's life both as a child and as he moved up the ranks from priest, to bishop, to cardinal. The final chapter discusses every so briefly how a new pope is elected and shows him being announced as the new pope.

This book is visually stunning to behold. The size of the panels and the attention to detail are impeccable and you can truly see an artist at work in this book. Though I was not alive for the reign of Pope John XXIII, I find myself more in admiration of him after reading this book. This is a book I have shared with others and will treasure for years to come. I hope my son will too when he is older. In addition to the featured comic, there is also some bonus features at the end, primarily a few comic strips on the pope that followed John XXIII, that being Pope Paul VI. If you would like a copy of this book, you won't find it on Amazon. Simply go to Joe Sinnott's page and email his son using the email address at the top of the page for cost and shipping charges. Also, I forgot to mention that the book is autographed! Maybe that won't matter to you, but it's a cool touch for nerds like me.

Just for Today is a hardcover illustrated children's book, which was a daily set of rules of Pope John XXIII. It begins by telling us that Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) declared at his First Communion that he always wanted to be good to people. In this book, he talks about what he will and will not do today. It focuses on self-improvement, not the improvement of others. There is also talk of taking it one day at a time and resting in God knowing that He loves you. It is a simple book with a simple message, but the message is powerful. In fact, it is a book I feel children and adults should read at least once a day. About the only thing I don't like about the book is the illustration style. I can't put my finger on it, but I'm just not a fan. Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and think the message of this book puts it in the category of must have for a Catholic home.

This book was provided to me for free by William B. Eerdmans in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!