Several hundred people took part in a procession to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., on May 11 in celebration of the canonizations of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.
“In the years and decades ahead, may each pilgrim be inspired by St. John Paul II’s total entrustment to Christ, Redeemer of man, and to the Mother of God,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said at the Polish Pope’s U.S. shrine. “And may each pilgrim to this shrine, through his intercession, follow in his footsteps as a courageous disciple of the Lord.”
“Here we will tell the story of this great saint – how it was that his heart was formed and how it was that he was able to form so many other hearts.”
The procession carried a relic of the blood of St. John Paul II from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception more than half a mile away.
It was led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and an honor guard of 100 Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. Cardinal Wuerl had celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at the basilica.
At the St. John Paul II shrine, those gathered prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, said a prayer for the intercession of St. John Paul II, and received a blessing with the saint’s relic.
The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, read a papal greeting praising the work of the shrine. In the shrine’s chapel, Cardinal Wuerl presented the Knights of Columbus leadership and shrine executive director Patrick Kelly with a painting of St. John Paul II.
The shrine was acquired in 2011 by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order, to create a memorial to the Polish Pope and to teach about his contributions to the Church and society.
The shrine’s main floor will be converted to a church, while its chapel will serve as a reliquary chapel. Both places of worship will have mosaics from floor to ceiling.
The shrine is currently hosting an exhibit entitled “Be Not Afraid: the Life and Legacy of John Paul II.”
Beginning later this year, the shrine’s lower level will host a 16,000 square foot permanent exhibition on the Pope’s life and teaching.
Anderson cited Pope Benedict XVI’s words about John Paul II at his beatification in 2011.
“With his witness of faith, of love and of apostolic courage, accompanied by a great human drive, this exemplary son of the Polish nation helped Christians worldwide not to be afraid to call themselves Christians, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word, he helped us not to be afraid of the truth, because the truth is the guarantee of freedom,” Pope Benedict said.
At the April 27 canonization, Pope Francis said St. John Paul II “made himself everything to everyone” and “continues to inspire us.”
“We are inspired by his words, his writings, his gestures, his style of service. We are inspired by his suffering lived with heroic hope. We are inspired by his total entrustment to Christ, Redeemer of man, and to the Mother of God.”