The Saint John Paul II National Shrine
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine is a major pastoral initiative of the Knights of Columbus.
Faithful to the mission and legacy of the John Paul II Cultural Center, which previously occupied the premises, the Knights began renovations to convert the building into its present form: a place of worship seamlessly integrated with a major permanent exhibition and opportunities for cultural and religious formation.
The shrine is a place of pilgrimage housing two first-class relics of St. John Paul II. Here, through liturgy and prayer, art, and cultural and religious formation, visitors can enter into its patron’s deep love for God and for man.
From its conception, the shrine was intended as a response to Pope John Paul II’s call for a “new evangelization, “ which was reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The shrine is meant to be a place of the genuine encounter with God that leads to a renewal of individuals, families, societies and cultures – a place where the God who “entered history” (John Paul II, Homily, Dec. 24, 1999) heals and renews every dimension of human life. It was designated a national shrine on March 14, 2014 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
It is the Knights’ hope that the Saint John Paul II National Shrine will serve the life of the Church in the Americas and will thus bear abundant fruit for the universal Church and for the world.
The shrine also houses a state-of-the-art exhibit on the life and legacy of St. John Paul II. Called A Gift of Love: The Life of St. John Paul II, the exhibit leads the pilgrim on a spiritual itinerary through Karol Wojtyła’s early years and the maturing of his vocation as a priest and bishop amidst some of the darkest moments of the twentieth century.
Personal artifacts, texts, images and interactive displays combine to illustrate the pope’s historic election, his passion for “Christ, the Redeemer of Man” and his courageous defense of the dignity of the human person. Through the dramatic events of John Paul II’s 25-year pontificate, and finally through the witness he bore in his final illness and death, the visitor can glimpse the fruitfulness of a life given over in service – the fruitfulness of a human being who, like his Lord, sought to love “to the end” (John 13:1).
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