Now you have THREE reasons to come to Washington DC’s “Little Rome.” Wednesday, October 22nd marked the Grand Opening of the permanent exhibit of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. The Shrine and the exhibit are FREE and open to the public Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm, closed on Sundays and Federal Holidays. The Saint John Paul II Shrine is a gift of the Knights of Columbus to the Church and to the world, as they purchased the Shrine in 2011. The Shrine is overseen by the Archdiocese of Washington. October 22, 2014 was the first recognized Feast Day since John Paul II “The Great” was canonized, and at The JPII National Shrine, a beautiful Mass was celebrated with many people in attendance including: religious orders, young, old, school children, and people of the many cultures that John Paul II touched.
The exhibit opens with a brilliant multimedia movie on a screen that surrounds the audience, and offers a quick review of the life and holiness of Saint John Paul II. The exhibit offers many great items to see during his lifetime and pontificate, and it you will find it very spiritually fulfilling to visit and experience this great Shrine. A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II, is a major permanent exhibit dedicated to preserving and promoting the memory and legacy of St. John Paul II. Covering some 16,000 square feet, this permanent exhibit offers a unique experience of learning and inspiration that invites visitors to imitate the virtues and holiness of St. John Paul II. The exhibit ends with another surround screen movie at the end of John Paul II’s life and his legacy as a saint. It is only appropriate that one then leaves the exhibit in the Hall of Saints that highlights the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries.
Saint John Paul II Relics
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine has two 1st class relics of Saint John Paul II. The first is a vial of blood that was a gift to the shrine from Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, which was blood that was taken from Pope John Paul II during a blood transfusion. The second is a piece of blood-stained cloth from a vestment that Pope John Paul II was wearing when he was shot on May 13, 1981. Shrine staff helped many people in getting religious items blessed with the relic such as rosaries, crosses, and holy cards.
Plans for Saint John Paul II National Shrine
The Knights of Columbus have done a wonderful job updating this wonderful shrine, but there is still more work and fundraising ahead to complete the shrine. Construction is currently underway on a new church that will accommodate larger crowds for daily Mass, that is being added to the front of the building. Also, behind the building a family picnic area is being established, all construction on the Saint John Paul II National Shrine should be completed sometime in 2017. You should make plans to visit this wonderful National Shrine, which here in “Little Rome”, joins the other two great pilgrimage sites of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception & the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land (all must see pilgrimage sites) — Now: The Holy Trinity of Pilgrimage Sites! Also in the area: The Catholic University of America, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dominican House of Studies, Capuchin College & Friary, the John Paul II Seminary, Pax Christi, USA, and the Brookland/CUA Metro stop.
Following was a prayer issued on a prayer card at the Feast Day Mass:
Prayer for the Intercession of Saint John Paul II
O Blessed Trinity, we thank you
for having graced the Church with
Saint John Paul II and for allowing
the tenderness of your fatherly care,
the glory of the Cross of Christ
and the splendor of the Spirit of love
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of
Jesus the Good Shepherd.
He has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary
Christian life and is the way of
achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession,
and according to your will,
the grace we implore,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(with ecclesiastical approval, +Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington)
Previous blog about John Paul II Cultural Center (name before it became a national shrine in 2014)