WASHINGTON, April 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just a few hours after Pope John Paul II was declared a saint by Pope Francis in Rome on April 27, the U.S. shrine dedicated to his life and legacy was officially renamed. The Washington, D.C. site is among the first places in the world to bear the name "St. John Paul."
During a ceremony near the entrance to the shrine, which is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, a permanent sign was unveiled with the facility's new name – Saint John Paul II National Shrine.
"As the premier site dedicated to St. John Paul II in the United States, we are entrusted with the mission of developing and promoting popular devotion to him," Patrick E. Kelly, the shrine's Executive Director, said at the unveiling ceremony. "Many will come here because of an enduring admiration for St. John Paul II; others will be introduced to him for the first time. The shrine is here to answer the questions: 'Who is St. John Paul II?' 'What does it mean to have a devotion to him?'"
Kelly conducted the renaming ceremony with Deputy Supreme Knight Logan T. Ludwig, who said "the shrine is at the service of the Church and can be seen as a gift from the Knights of Columbus to the Church and the whole of society for generations to come."
After the ceremony, a Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of St. John Paul II was celebrated for an overflow congregation at the shrine's chapel.
The Mass concluded two days of events at the shrine that included, live music, a gathering of young people and an early-morning live simulcast of the canonization ceremony from Rome in which Pope Francis canonized St. John XXIII along with St. John Paul II. The weekend also featured opportunities to venerate a relic of St. John Paul II that consists of a vial of the new saint's blood that was drawn following the 1981 attempt on his life.
"Pope John XXIII led the Church into the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II served as its key interpreter," said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who was in Rome for the ceremonies. "Together, they left the Church a profound legacy that continues to shape the third millennium of Christianity."
SOURCE Knights of Columbus