It’s not your average attraction: a vial containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II is going on tour across America’s east coast.
Beginning in Boston, the first American city where Pope John Paul II said Mass in 1979, the relic will also be on display to worshipers in New York and Philadelphia, before ending up in Baltimore. The golden relic is normally housed at the Saint John Paul II shrine in Washington DC. It has a glass vial containing the Pope’s blood at its centre and is surrounded by a cloud-like shape with 12 red stones, which represent Jesus’s 12 apostles.
Catholicism views relics as holy objects. They come in three different classes: a first-class relic is something from the body of a saint, such as the vial of John Paul II’s blood, a second-class relic is something used by a saint and a third-class relic is something touched by a first-class relic. Several other relics containing the blood of Pope John Paul II - now known as Saint John Paul II - are on display across the world, with one stolen and quickly recovered by police in Italy earlier this year.
Born in Poland, John Paul II was the third-longest serving pope in history, heading up the Catholic church from 1978 until his death in 2005. During that time he visited more than 120 countries, once saying the Pope should not remain “a prisoner of the Vatican”.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, of the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement bringing John Paul II’s blood to communities in America would help “recall for many Catholics his saintly life”.