A shrine dedicated to Pope John Paul II has been changed to reflect the sainthood bestowed upon him. At a ceremony on Sunday, the shrine was rededicated as the “Saint John Paul II National Shrine.”
“The American bishops are pleased to reflect the love of Catholics in America for John Paul II by designating this location a national shrine,” said Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. “This national shrine is truly America’s fitting tribute and remembrance of his legacy.”
Formerly known as the Blessed John Paul II Shrine, it is located on the site of the former John Paul II Cultural Center on Harewood Road in northeast Washington.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, declared the site an archdiocesan shrine in 2011.
“Pope John Paul visited Washington and was an important force for good in America, so we are particularly honored to have this saint’s national shrine here and to be one of the first places of worship in the world to bear his name,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “In its three years as a local shrine, it has also become a place of pilgrimage and prayer, attracting people from far beyond this city.”
A centerpiece of the shrine will be a relic consisting of a vial of John Paul II’s blood, entrusted to the Knights of Columbus by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, archbishop of Kraków and longtime personal secretary to John Paul II.
The shrine’s lower level will feature a 16,000-square-foot permanent exhibition on the pope’s life and teaching slated to open later this year. The main floor will be converted into a church and the current chapel will serve as a reliquary chapel.