National Shrine Dedicated to St. John Paul II Renamed in Nation’s Capital
A few hours after John Paul II was declared a saint by Pope Francis in Rome on April 27, the U.S. shrine dedicated to his life and legacy that is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus was officially renamed in Washington, D.C. During a ceremony near the shrine’s entrance, a sign was unveiled with the facility’s new name – Saint John Paul II National Shrine.
“As the premier site dedicated to St. John Paul II in the United States, we are entrusted with the mission of developing and promoting popular devotion to him,” Patrick E. Kelly, the shrine’s Executive Director, said at the unveiling ceremony. “Many will come here because of an enduring admiration for St. John Paul II; others will be introduced to him for the first time. The shrine is here to answer the questions: ‘Who is St. John Paul II?’ ‘What does it mean to have a devotion to him?’”
Kelly conducted the renaming ceremony with Deputy Supreme Knight Logan T. Ludwig, who said in his remarks, “In a very real sense, the shrine is at the service of the Church and can be seen as a gift from the Knights of Columbus to the Church and the whole of society for generations to come.”
After the ceremony, a Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of St. John Paul II was celebrated by the shrine’s Chaplain Father Gregory Gresko. In his homily, Father Gresko said that it was an honor to offer the first Mass at the newly named shrine, adding, “We come to God with hearts full of great thanks for the life and legacy of St. John Paul II, a true father in faith during the lifetimes of so many of us present here.”
The Mass concluded two days of events at the shrine that included an outdoor procession, live music, a gathering of young people, midnight Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, and an early-morning live simulcast of the canonization ceremony from Rome, in which Pope Francis canonized St. John XXIII along with St. John Paul II. The weekend also featured adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of Confession and opportunities to venerate a relic of St. John Paul II that is a shrine centerpiece. The relic consists of a vial of the new saint’s blood, entrusted to the Knights of Columbus by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the archbishop of Kraków and John Paul’s longtime secretary.
Commenting on the two canonizations, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who was in Rome for the ceremonies, said, “These two saints have each left very important legacies for the Church and important examples of holiness for all of us. Pope John XXIII led the Church into the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II served as its key interpreter, leaving the Church a profound legacy that continues to shape the third millennium of Christianity.”