As hundreds of the faithful followed in procession, a relic of the newly proclaimed St. John Paul II was carried a mile through the streets of downtown New Haven, from the Polish church of St. Stanislaus to the Knights of Columbus Museum, where it was offered for veneration.
Taking place just hours after John Paul II was canonized in Rome by Pope Francis, the New Haven event began at 3 p.m. with a Divine Mercy Chaplet prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in St. Stanislaus Church. After Benediction, the relic, encased in an ornate reliquary, was carried along State Street by Father Roman Kmiec, pastor of St. Stanislaus parish. The procession, which stretched more than four blocks along the sidewalks, was led by a Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree honor guard, as a police escort blocked off traffic. Many of those walking in the procession wore traditional Polish garb or carried banners of their parish organizations. They sang hymns and prayed the rosary, gaining the attention of passersby.
At the museum, Father Kmiec placed the reliquary on a stand for individual veneration. Father Timothy Hickey of St. Rita Church in Hamden led the faithful in a Prayer for the Intercession of St. John Paul II.
The relic, a fragment of the pope’s bloodstained cassock from the May 13, 1981, attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square, is normally housed at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., which is also operated by the Knights of Columbus.
Events held throughout the day at the Knights of Columbus Museum included video presentations on the lives of the two new saints - John Paul II and John XXIII - and children’s activities. The museum’s Papal Gallery, which traces the papacy throughout the Catholic fraternal organization’s 132-year history, was also open.
Retired Hartford Archbishop Daniel Cronin was scheduled to present, “Personal Memories of Two Pope Saints” at the Knights of Columbus Museum on Monday, April 28. Veneration of the relic will continue at the museum April 28-29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.