A vial of blood drawn from Pope John Paul II will be installed as a relic in a Polish church soon after his beatification.
Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Center, said the vial will be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the city of Krakow, the Associated Press reports. The church, which is still under construction, will open sometime after the May 1 beatification.
The blood was drawn for medical tests shortly before the pontiff’s death on April 2, 2005. It is now in the possession of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow and former secretary of John Paul II.
Sionko said the cardinal proposed the idea of using the blood as a relic. "He is of the opinion that this is the most precious relic of John Paul II and should be the focal point of the church."
The church, in Krakow’s Lagiewniki district, is part of a center devoted to cultivating the memory and the teaching of the late Pope, a former Archbishop of Krakow.
As part of Catholic tradition, the veneration of relics is a practice that recognizes the God-given sanctity of a saint or blessed and anticipates his or her bodily resurrection.
John Paul II’s blood would not be the first relic of its kind. The blood of St. Januarius is kept in the cathedral of Naples and liquefies every year on his feast day.