Just a few months after the late Pope John Paul the Second was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, a relic related to the saint will be on display at Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
The first-class relic of Saint John Paul II will be available for veneration at the Cathedral Saturday and Sunday and those attending Masses at the Cathedral this weekend will be blessed with the relic after services. It marks the first opportunity for many people in the United States to venerate a relic of one of the Church’s newest saints.
The relic is on a tour of the United States and is being sponsored by the Saint John Paul National Shrine in Washington, D.C. and the Knights of Columbus which has been entrusted with the artifact during its journey. The relic is similar to one displayed April 27th at the Vatican in Rome during canonization ceremonies. It consists of a vial of John Paul’s blood which remains in a liquid state.
The tour of the relic started in June in Boston, which is the first U.S. city in which John Paul II said Mass during his October 1979 visit to the United States. John Paul visited Philadelphia on October 3rd and 4th and the papal trip was described then by the “Philadelphia Inquirer” as “an event unlike any other the city had ever seen.”
John Paul’s visit to Philadelphia in 1979 was not his first trip to the City of Brotherly Love. As Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland, the religious leader also participated in the city’s 1976 Eucharistic Congress in conjunction with the United States bicentennial.
Knights of Columbus leader Carl Anderson noted the relic’s tour is significant because “John Paul spent more time in the United States than any other pope before or since, shaping an entire generation of Catholic here and throughout the world.” Anderson added that bringing the relic to communities around the nation will recall for many Catholics his saintly life, his commitment to the dignity of every human person and his emphasis on the call to holiness for all people.
According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, relics are divided into two categories: first and second class. First class or real relics include physical body parts, clothing and instruments connected to a saint. Second class or representative relics are those which the faithful have touched to the physical body parts or grave of the saint.
The relic’s tour will end in Baltimore.