PHILADELPHIA, July 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An important relic of St. John Paul II will be available for veneration at Philadelphia's Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20. The tour is being sponsored by the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and the Knights of Columbus, and will remind many of the historic visit John Paul made to the city early in his papacy.
"When Pope John Paul II visited Philadelphia on Oct. 3 and 4, 1979, it was an event unlike any the city had ever seen," reported The Philadelphia Inquirer in an article published some years after the two-day visit that attracted more than a million people. "Philadelphians joined hands as one. Strangers became friends, and…civility, generosity and spirituality were the rule."
The future pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland, had also taken part in the city's 1976 Eucharistic Congress in conjunction with the American bicentennial.
The relic of St. John Paul will be available for veneration at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday, July 19, at 4:15 pm and after the 5:15 p.m. vigil Mass. On Sunday, July 20, the relic will be available for veneration after the 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m. Masses and after the 12:30 pm Spanish Mass. Veneration will also be held after the 6:30 p.m. Solemn Mass celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap.
The relic is similar to one displayed at the April 27 canonization of Pope John Paul. It consists of a vial of his blood that was entrusted to the Knights of Columbus for the Saint John Paul II National Shrine by his longtime personal secretary Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow.
The tour of the St. John Paul relics to several American cities in recent weeks has been organized by the shrine to highlight John Paul's close connection to the United States that came through his frequent journeys here. It has also provided the faithful who were unable to attend the ceremony in Rome an opportunity to pay their respects to the new saint.
"There was no greater champion of human rights in our lifetime than St. John Paul, who reminded us that those rights begin with religious liberty and the rights of conscience," said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "He did this most memorably in the first year of his papacy when he returned to Poland and brought there the hope of freedom, and again when he spoke so clearly on behalf of religious freedom at the United Nations."
Pope John Paul's defense of human rights and religious freedom is widely considered to be a key element in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.
The relic is normally housed at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, which is administered by the Knights in Washington, D.C. The site was designated a national shrine by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this year. This summer, it will debut a new 16,000-square-foot, state-of-the art exhibit on John Paul's life and legacy.
More information is available at http://www.jp2shrine.org
SOURCE Knights of Columbus