MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Manila will be the custodian of a relic of St. John Paul II: a vial of the late pope’s blood that was to be placed in a reliquary for veneration starting April 7.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, St. John Paul II’s former secretary and retired archbishop of Krakow, Poland, gave the archdiocese the vial as a gift for the 60th anniversary of Manila Cathedral’s reconstruction after World War II, ucanews.com reported.
“This precious gift … is truly a source of consolation and help especially for those who are suffering physical illnesses,” read a statement from Manila Cathedral.
Relics have always received particular veneration and attention in the Catholic Church because of the belief that the bodies of saints have become instruments of their holiness.
“Let those who have special intentions and petitions come in veneration and prayer,” the statement said.
Father Reggie Malecdem, Manila Cathedral rector, said it was a “great honor” for the church to be the custodian of the relic.
“We did not expect that Cardinal Dziwisz would send us still liquified blood,” he said during a media briefing April 5.
A Poland-based Filipino nun brought the relic to Manila in December. It is the first such relic of a saint’s blood still in liquid form in the Philippines.
Toward the end of the late pope’s life, doctors extracted blood from him in case there was a need for an emergency transfusion. The blood is still in liquid form because of an anti-coagulant present in the test tubes at the moment of extraction.
Only seven vials of liquid blood from St. John Paul are enshrined in churches around the world.
The relic was placed inside a reliquary, which is the exact copy of the one that was presented during the pope’s beatification and canonization in 2014.
St. John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 to 2005, celebrated Mass at the cathedral during a visit to the Philippines in February 1981.