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October 11

Saint of the day:

Pope John XXIII
The Good Pope

Saint John XXIII’s Story

Although few people had as great an impact on the 20th century as Pope John XXIII, he avoided the limelight as much as possible. Indeed, one writer has noted that his “ordinariness” seems one of his most remarkable qualities.

The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo’s diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Roncalli returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop’s secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary, and as publisher of the diocesan paper.

His service as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army during World War I gave him a firsthand knowledge of war. In 1921, Fr. Roncalli was made national director in Italy of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He also found time to teach patristics at a seminary in the Eternal City.

In 1925, he became a papal diplomat, serving first in Bulgaria, then in Turkey, and finally in France. During World War II, he became well acquainted with Orthodox Church leaders. With the help of Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli helped save an estimated 24,000 Jewish people.

Named a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953, he was finally a residential bishop. A month short of entering his 78th year, Cardinal Roncalli was elected pope, taking the name John after his father and the two patrons of Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. Pope John took his work very seriously but not himself. His wit soon became proverbial, and he began meeting with political and religious leaders from around the world. In 1962, he was deeply involved in efforts to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.

His most famous encyclicals were Mother and Teacher (1961) and Peace on Earth (1963). Pope John XXIII enlarged the membership in the College of Cardinals and made it more international. At his address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he criticized the “prophets of doom” who “in these modern times see nothing but prevarication and ruin.” Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said, “The Church has always opposed… errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

On his deathbed, Pope John said: “It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.”

“Good Pope John” died on June 3, 1963. Saint John Paul II beatified him in 2000, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.







(d. 1963, Rome, Italy) (Relics: Rome, Italy)


St Peter’s Basilica

Rome, Italy

Altar of St Jerome

*Located on the right side of the nave at the base of the first column.

*The body of St John XXIII rests under this altar. He is known in particular for announcing the opening of the Second Vatican Council.


Churches of Honor in Rome

San Bartolomeo e Alessandro dei Bergamaschi

(Saints Bartholomew and Alexander of the People of Bergamo)

Via di Pietra 70, Piazza Colonna

Rome, Italy

*This church is off the Via del Corso near the Piazza Colonna. It is not open often.

*The first chapel on the right side of the nave is dedicated to St John XXIII. A relic of his zucchetto rests above the altar.




Pumpkin Ravioli are a Northern Italy classic for autumn and winter dinners. Ravioli (or tortelli) di zucca have a sweetish pumpkin puree filling and they’re usually seasoned with sage & butter or homemade sage butter and grated parmesan.


Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter


For the filling:

  • 1-lb. piece Cheese or Sugar Pie pumpkin, calabaza or
    butternut squash, seeds and strings removed

  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or grana padano cheese

  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 1 to 2 Tbs. dried bread crumbs

  • 1 1/4 lb. Egg Pasta (see below)

  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter, clarified (see tip below)

  • 12 large fresh sage leaves

  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt

  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


  1. To make the filling, preheat an oven to 400ºF.

  2. Prick the pumpkin with a fork before roasting to help evaporate the moisture.
    Place the pumpkin directly on the oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 45 to 50 minutes.

  3. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the peel; transfer to a food processor and process until smooth.

  4. Transfer the pumpkin puree to a bowl. Add the egg yolk, cheese, nutmeg and sea salt. Mix well, adding the bread crumbs as needed to bind the ingredients into a cohesive mixture. Cover the filling and set aside.

  5. Using a pasta machine or a floured rolling pin, roll out the pasta dough 1/32 inch thick, then fill and cut the ravioli (see related tip).

  6. Pour the clarified butter into a small fry pan and place over low heat. Add the sage leaves and heat until the butter is saturated with the flavor of the sage, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

  7. In a large pot over high heat, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil. Add the kosher salt, gently drop in half of the ravioli and cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil, uncover and cook, stirring gently occasionally and reducing the heat as needed to prevent the ravioli from knocking against one another and breaking. The total cooking time should be 3 to 5 minutes. To test for doneness, transfer a single ravioli to a cutting board and cut off a corner with a paring knife; if the pasta looks cooked through and the corner tastes tender, the pasta is done. Using a large slotted spoon, lift out the ravioli, allowing a little of the water to cling to them so they remain moist, and transfer to a warmed large, shallow serving bowl; cover the bowl to keep the ravioli warm. Repeat to cook the remaining ravioli.

  8. Pass the cheese at the table. Serves 4.Drizzle the sage butter over the ravioli and serve immediately.

Tip: To make clarified butter, in a fry pan over low heat, melt the butter. When it stops sizzling and the solids begin to separate and rise to the surface, skim off and discard the solids. The clarified butter should be golden in color. Watch it carefully to prevent it from getting too dark, which can happen in an instant; turn off the heat if it begins to darken too much before you have removed all the solids. Pass the clarified butter through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter to extract any solids that remain.



Egg Pasta

Italians traditionally use “00” flour (doppio zero) to make fresh pasta. A soft-wheat flour, it is almost powdery and yields a particularly light and porous dough. If you cannot find it, unbleached all-purpose flour is the best substitute. You can make the dough by hand or with a food processor.

The recipe below yields 1 lb. pasta dough. To make 1 1/4 lb. dough, use 3 cups flour, a scant 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, 5 eggs and 1 Tbs. olive oil, and proceed as directed.


  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see note above), plus more as needed

  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 4 eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 tsp. olive oil


  1. To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well. 

  2. Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall. 

  3. When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk. 

  4. To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough. 

  5. Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky. 

  6. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk. 

  7. For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic. 

  8. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1 lb. dough. 




Pasta Pasta Pasta! 

If you have extra pasta dough and want to make one more pumpkin pasta dish try this amazing one!

Fettuccine Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce!


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook the fettuccine.

  2. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid in case you want to thin out your sauce.

  3. Heat the butter over medium heat.

  4. Add the garlic; saute until soft and fragrant.

  5. Add the pumpkin and heavy whipping cream.

  6. Simmer until slightly thickened.

  7. Add the cheese and stir to combine.

  8. Toss the pasta in the sauce and thin as needed using the reserved cooking liquid.

  9. Top with additional Parm and season to taste (I used at least one teaspoon coarse sea salt).

  10. Serve immediately.

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