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Blessed John XXIII and his speech of the moon

(Vatican Radio) Veronica Scarisbrick brings you echoes from the era of the pontificate of Blessed John XXIII, the twentieth century Pope to inaugurate a less formal way of public speaking than was the custom at the time.

The story begins fifty years ago on the 11th of October 1962, at the end of the day marking the opening of the Second Vatican Council when John XXIII appeared at the window of the Apostolic Palace. According to his secretary, now Cardinal Loris Capovilla he had not planned to appear but when he noticed the huge expectant crowds gathered below in Saint Peter's Square he felt obliged to respond.

And with his impromptu speech on that historic day, known as of the moon : 'Il discorso della luna' broke new ground in terms of linguistic spontaneity on the part of a Roman Pontiff.

Listen to a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick: RealAudioMP3

This memorable speech lives on in people’s hearts and minds to this day and if you listen to this programme you can hear sound clips of it from our Vatican Radio sound archives.

Also in this programme you can listen to a young journalist's memories of that evening. She's Jill Bevilacqua and was in St Peter's Square when Blessed John XXIII made this speech!

Some of the other guests on this programme, include a member of the papal court of the time, the late Count Carlo Cardelli, the late Monsignor Carroll- Abbing who met Pope John XXIII on many an occasion and Rosminian Father John Charles-Roux who spins amusing tales relating to the years Angelo Roncalli spent as Apostolic nuncio in Paris.

Also in this programme, other recordings from our Vatican Radio archives including one in which Good Pope John as he was familiarly known, speaks in English, a language he never quite managed to master, despite valiant efforts!

This programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick is part of a series focusing on the figure of Blessed John XXIII, soon to be canonised by Pope Francis.