I can’t think of a better tribute to this charming saint:
““When I was a child, my ambition was to be pope. I remember watching the funeral of John XXIII and asking my mother, “Who was that man?” I understood very little about him, but I did learn from the television coverage that he lived in Italy, had a very nice white suit and a great hat, and everyone seemed to love him. My mother responded, “That’s Pope John XXIII.” She, like most Jewish parents, was familiar with then cardinal Roncalli’s efforts to save Jews during World War II as well as with his convening of Vatican II, the gathering that finally condemned the teaching that all Jews, everywhere, were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus she added, “He was good for the Jews.” I immediately decided I would be pope: it meant lots of spaghetti, great accessories, and the job was good for the Jews. “I want to be pope,” I announced to my mother. “You can’t,” she replied. “You’re not Italian.” Clearly, for a variety of reasons, I was in desperate need of instruction regarding the relationship between church and synagogue.
“When I was seven, this early fascination with Christianity came to a head with two events. First, I became insistent upon making my First Communion. All my friends were preparing for this special event, and I didn’t want to be left out. My desire was not motivated by religious fervor or even religious understanding; I lacked both. Rather, I wanted the dress with the matching white patent-leather shoes. To provide me some consolation, my mother bought me a wedding gown for my Barbie doll. I’d dress Ken in his groom suit, with the jacket on backwards and with white construction paper for the clerical collar. Then, practicing what I learned from my friends, I’d have Barbie, in her bride dress, take Communion from Ken every morning before school.
“Second, that year a friend on the school bus said to me, “You killed our Lord.” “I did not,” I responded with some indignation. Deicide would be the sort of thing I would have recalled.” —Amy-Jill Levine