7 Quick Takes About #2PopeSaints

1. Did you know there is a hashtag for the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII? It’s #2popesaints.

2. John Paul II was the pope for most of my teen years, and most of my adult life, as well. John Paul II was the first pope I remember being pope, and such vivid memories—when he was elected, when he was shot, how he traveled the world and was so full of life.

As a young adult and beyond, I read his encyclicals, his poetry, and his books. HE’s influenced my life in so many ways. I wrote about the then-upcoming conclave that elected Pope Francis here: and reflected back on when John Paul II died and what we did. I will be getting out that scrapbook again this weekend.

To be honest, I don’t know as much about John XXIII.

I’ve had a post “in draft” for more than a week with books by/about the two popes, and I was feeling bad about not finding tons of books written by/about John XXIII, like there are of JP II. Then I was out to dinner several weeks ago with my husband and a dear friend (a bit older than both of us, who has seen more popes). He pointed out that Pope John XXIII was only pope for five years, contrasted to JPII’s 26 years as Holy Father.

This article from the Knights of Columbus “Columbia” magazine:

“Good Pope John and the Knights” was a helpful introduction to me.

Also: “Jokes, quips, wisecracks-John XXIII lived with a keen sense of humor.”  Sweet.

3.  So, books.

John XXIII is best known, book-wise, for Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII.

This was a very moving and inspiring book.  It’s a collection of a lot of different elements–the bulk is formed of his diaries, arranged chronologically from when he was a seminarian  (for some reason, written as “seminarist” in this book) through when he was Holy Father. Things that impressed me:

*John XXIII’s deep holiness. He’s always reflecting on how to grow in holiness himself, and inspire that in others. His ideas for retreats, outreaches and

*his spiritual testament and will, showing the state of his life and faith towards the end of his life.

*prayers that he wrote for various occasions and various saints. Just one out of many that is impressive and sweet: One written in 1960 to “St. Joseph the Worker.” A lot of the language in it prefigures a major theme of the Vatican II documents: holiness in everyday life.

*in the appendices, a section of “maxims heard or gleaned from various sources” that Pope John XXIII made as a seminarian.  It contains quotes from Scripture, the saints and church documents, all pointing towards  holiness and heaven.  I have been a huge quote fan since I was young–some of my most prized possessions are various quotation books, like a number of Bartlett’s Quotations, that were gifts from my father, also a huge quote lover.  For some time, I’ve had a goal to collect various scraps of things into a commonplace book, or inspire my children to start one of their own.   Reading John XXIII’s selections is giving me a nudge to get that going this year.

4.  Books by John Paul II. So, so many. Just two of my favorites:


This was answering a series of questions put by journalist Vittorio Messori about the Catholic faith, truth in other faiths, and just human life over all.  I love this one; I haven’t read it in years but I’m pulling it off the shelf to read again.

I love the poetry of John Paul II.  I have several versions of his poetry, and I think this book includes most of them. I shared two of his poems  (read them here and here) three years ago when JPII was beatified.

5. Books about John Paul II.  Again, there are so many, but here are three (plus one not quite “out” yet).


George Weigel’s Witness to Hope is the definitive biography of JPII.  It is fantastic, and really a must-read by everyone college age on up. But at more than 1,000 pages, it is a long read.  For those who want a more popular and good introduction to the heroism, holiness and charisma of John Paul II, may I suggest Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert.


I really enjoyed this book.  The short biographical chapters remind us just what a remarkable man John Paul II was and why he is “the great,” and it works really well to organize the rest of the book into JPII’s five loves: young people, human love, the Blessed Sacrament, the Virgin Mary, and the Cross.  And this one is just a bit over 200 pages–much more manageable.  I plan to have my kids read this book, and hope that it whets their appetite down the road for tackling Witness to Hope.

Peggy Noonan’s John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father was a gift to me by one of my sisters many years ago, and I must confess I’ve never read it.  Pulling off the shelf to give it a go this summer, perhaps?

This book looks so promising: The Story of Saint John Paul II: A Boy Who Became Pope by Fabiola Garza. I downloaded this on Kindle because I didn’t think (rightly) that a print review copy would arrive before writing about JPII books.  Regrettably, there are some glitches with the e-version.  You can read and listen to it, but the illustrations aren’t there.  I think it being worked on, and I can’t wait to see a physical copy of this book, and an improved e-version.  I’ll be writing about it once I do.

6. Links about JP II

*21 Awesome Facts about John Paul II.

*Loved this “Letter to Artists” excerpts read by students at John Paul the Great University. “Beauty will save the world.”

7.  Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing–yet again!– John Paul II autotuned.  I just LOVE this one.

Linking up with Jen Fulwiler for 7 Quick Takes.

What books/videos/resources/links can you share about 2popesaints?