St. John Paul II relic coming to archdiocese

| Susan Klemond | November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

A first-class relic of St. John Paul II is displayed at the St. John Paul II Catholic Newman Center at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, in August. Courtesy Sister Clara Maria of the Visitation

As St. John Paul II ended his 2002 trip to Mexico, he told Catholics that although he had to go, his heart would remain.

Twelve years after his death, religious sisters are helping to fulfill that prophecy by bringing to parishes a first-class relic of the saint’s blood associated with miraculous healings. Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis can venerate the relic at three parishes Nov. 29 and 30, and Dec. 1.

“So many miracles of physical healings are taking place and also answered prayers — of reinvigoration of the faith — of St. John Paul’s words making known the gift of his magisterium, his legacy,” said Sister Clara Maria of the Visitation, a member of the Miami-based diocesan religious institute, Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The Institute has directed veneration of the relic during its several visits to the United States and Latin America since 2013, where it has drawn large crowds, she said. As part of a 2017 tour, the relic will be available for veneration at St. Hubert in Chanhassen, Guardian Angels in Chaska and St. Joseph in West St. Paul.

The relic consists of a small ampoule of the saint’s blood, which is set in a gold-covered metal reliquary molded to look like an open lectionary. It is one of four relics of St. John Paul II’s blood and the only pilgrim relic, said Sister Clara, whose home parish is St. Joseph in West St. Paul and who now serves in campus ministry in Normal, Illinois.

St. John Paul II was canonized in 2014.

The blood was drawn close to the pope’s 2005 death, anticipating the need for a transfusion. The blood wasn’t needed, and several tubes were taken for relics. Because an anti-coagulant substance was present in the test tubes at the time of extraction, the blood is in a liquid state, according to Vatican Information Service.

Father Rolf Tollefson, pastor at St. Hubert, learned about the pilgrim relic and asked the Servants’ foundress, Mother Adela Galindo, to bring it to the archdiocese.

Events include a 9:35 a.m. school Mass Nov. 29 at St. Hubert with Archbishop Bernard Hebda, followed by veneration later that day from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A Spanish-language veneration service will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Guardian Angels with another service 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at St. Joseph. For more details, visit the parishes’ websites.

Along with Latin American countries, the sisters have brought the relic to five states and Washington, D.C., this year, Sister Clara said. Healings from cancer, infertility, and emotional and spiritual problems have been reported, she said.

From the Twin Cities, the sisters will bring the relic to Nicaragua before returning it to Rome.

Veneration of relics has brought healing and inspiration since the early Christians gathered relics of the martyrs.

The Church permits veneration of the relics of canonized and beatified servants of God to foster sanctification. It recognizes three classes of relics. First class: parts of the saint’s body; second class: items the saint owned; and third class: items touched to a first- or second-class relic.

Relics remind Catholics of their connection to the communion of saints, said Father Joseph Johnson, pastor of Holy Family in St. Louis Park.

“In venerating a relic, we’re giving honor to a loved one who has lived a life that is heroic, an example to us,” he said.

This honor shouldn’t be confused with worship, which is reserved for God alone, he said.

Those venerating St. John Paul II’s relic are invited to pray for the saint’s intercession and to touch or kiss the reliquary, or touch to it a rosary, crucifix, medal, holy card or wedding rings, Sister Clara said.

Father Tollefson said he hopes the relic will help people go deeper in prayer.

“To have an encounter with St. John Paul II means to have an encounter with Our Lady and our Lord,” he said.

St. John Paul II made himself a gift and calls us to do the same, said Mark Croteau, St. Joseph’s director of Catholic mission.

“What better way to symbolize this than to have a relic of his blood — a pouring out of who he was to reflect on how he died?” he asked.

Father Bill Deziel, pastor at Guardian Angels, hopes many English and Spanish speakers will venerate the relic.

“When you go out of your way, there is always fruit,” he said.

Catholics venerating the relic should “bring all your sufferings, your intentions and ask, because St. John Paul II wants to work to increase our faith and help us to depend more on our Lord,” Sister Clara said. “We go with hearts open to all of what the Lord wants to do in us through [the saints’] intercession.”

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