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Major Relic of St. John Paul II Visits Philadelphia


An important relic of St. John Paul II was venerated by throngs of the Catholic faithful of Philadelphia over the weekend of July19-20. The visit was part of a tour sponsored by the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and the Knights of Columbus, that drew similar numbers to the cathedrals of Baltimore, Boston and New York.

The relic of St. John Paul II was placed in the sanctuary during the weekend Masses offered at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, including a Sunday evening Solemn Mass celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap. with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in attendance. New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke at a similar evening Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral exactly one week earlier.

The relic is similar to one displayed at the April 27 canonization of John Paul II. It consists of a vial of his blood that was entrusted to the Knights for the Saint John Paul II National Shrine by his longtime personal secretary Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow.

The tour of the St. John Paul II blood relic to major East Coast cities in recent weeks was designed to highlight John Paul’s close connection to the United States that came through his frequent journeys here. It has also provided the faithful who were unable to attend the ceremony in Rome an opportunity to pay their respects to the new saint.

"There was no greater champion of human rights in our lifetime than St. John Paul, who reminded us that those rights begin with religious liberty and the rights of conscience," said Supreme Knight Anderson. "He did this most memorably in the first year of his papacy when he returned to Poland and brought there the hope of freedom, and again when he spoke so clearly on behalf of religious freedom at the United Nations."

John Paul took part in Philadelphia's 1976 Eucharistic Congress as a cardinal and in 1979 was greeted as pope by more than a million people during a visit that The Philadelphia Inquirer described some years later as an event "unlike any the city had ever seen.” The relic is normally housed at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C., which is administered by the Knights. The site was designated a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this year.

More information is available at http://www.jp2shrine.org