Photo: Felix Carroll
A Relic's New Home
By Lois A. Fusco (Aug 13, 2012)
As of this past Sunday, there is one more reason to visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. Pilgrims may now venerate a first-class relic of Blessed John Paul II, located in a white marble kneeler in a side chapel to the right of the sanctuary.
The relic consists of a white linen cloth that holds a drop of John Paul's blood. During Sunday's enshrinement, the Very Rev. Kazimierz "Kaz" Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Marians in the United States and Argentina, noted that the blood was saved by an administrator at the Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital ("The Gemelli") in Rome, Italy where John Paul had been hospitalized twice in the weeks prior to his death on April 2, 2005.
The first-class relic was given to the Marians by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz in appreciation for the religious order's lengthy and pivotal role in promoting the official Divine Mercy message and devotion for more than 70 years. Cardinal Dziwisz presented the relic to Fr. Kaz during his recent visit to Poland.
Cardinal Dziwisz, now the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, was ordained a priest by then Bishop Karol Jozef Wojtyla and later went on to become a longtime and influential advisor to the Pope. He served John Paul as his private secretary throughout his entire 27-year pontificate. The pontiff's blood was turned over to Cardinal Dziwisz following John Paul's death.
The Marians enshrined the relic in close proximity to a relic of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.
The relic is a fitting gift to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Its placement near the relic of St. Faustina is likewise fitting in that it was Blessed John Paul II who not only promoted the Divine Mercy message, but also beatified and canonized St. Faustina. During her canonization on April 30, 2000, John Paul II proclaimed that the second Sunday of Easter will also be called Divine Mercy Sunday. According to Fr. Kaz, John Paul stated that spreading the message of mercy was his special task assigned to him by God: "God called him to be a witness for Divine Mercy." Indeed, John Paul aimed to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. With his encyclical on Divine Mercy, and in his writings and homilies, he described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world's problems and the message of the third millennium. For these reasons, he is often referred to as "the Mercy Pope."
"By coming to our Shrine, he came to his spiritual home," said Fr. Kaz. "Even though he never visited our Shrine in Stockbridge — we were too small at the time — he belongs here as one of the great promoters of Divine Mercy. Now, we can experience his presence and protection more fully." Following recitation of the perpetual novena and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, sung during the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.), Fr. Kaz incensed the relic, then told the pilgrims to pray for the Blessed's intercession.
Some 300 clergy, pilgrims, volunteers and staff, led by Fr. Kaz who carried a reliquary with the John Paul relic, processed indoors from the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine to the Divine Mercy Chapel where everyone was given the opportunity to venerate the relic.
View a video of Sunday's enshrinement:
Built as a chapel in the 1950s to honor the Marians' special devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary — patroness of the community — and its deep commitment to the message of Divine Mercy, it became a Shrine, and subsequently, a National Shrine.
For information on Shrine pilgrimages, visit the Shrine's website.