On October 28, 1958 at the age of 77, to everyone's surprise at his advanced age, Roncalli was elected Pope and assumed the name of his father, the patron of his native country and the evangelist of charity: Giovanni. He immediately began a new way of making the Pope moved by his faith and his happy temperament.
Not even two months after his election he gave the example of practicing corporal works of mercy: at Christmas he visited the sick children at the Santo Spirito and Bambin Gesù hospitals, and the following day he visited the inmates of the Regina Coeli Roman prison.
Three months after his election on January 25, 1959 in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, among the general surprise, he announced the XXI Ecumenical Council which will then be called Vatican II, the I Synod of the Diocese of Rome and the revision of the Code of Canon law. During his pontificate, in three consistories, he appointed 37 new cardinals including, for the first time, a Tanzanian, a Japanese, a Filipino and a Mexican. He was the first Pope, after 1870, who also directly exercised his ministry as Bishop of Rome, personally visiting the parishes.