MANILA Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday led the welcome Mass for and veneration of the blood relic of Pope St. John Paul 2nd at the Manila Cathedral.
The saint’s blood relic, placed in a glass container, was given to the Manila Cathedral as a gift by his former secretary, Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz.
In his homily, Tagle asked the faithful to follow the work of Jesus Christ’s apostles in spreading the good news “to the ends of the world that the Lord has risen.”
“When you go to your neighborhood, to your workplaces, schools, recreation (centers) bring the testimony that Jesus is alive,” Tagle said.
“Huwag puro chismis (Do not engage purely on rumors),” the cardinal told a packed Manila Cathedral.
He said the Philippines “welcome again one of the witnesses of the merciful Lord, Saint John Paul 2nd.”
“He traveled all over the world, telling people not to be afraid of the Lord. Twice, he brought the message to the Philippines,” he said.
The first time was in 1981 when he beatified Lorenzo Ruiz and in 1995 during the “unforgettable World Youth Day,” he said.
“Now we welcome him again. The relic of his blood, blood life. But it is life in Christ. Life in the Risen Lord,” Tagle said.
“With Saint Pope John Paul 2nd, let us be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the world,” the cardinal added.
Placed inside a reliquary, the blood relic is the same relic presented during the Pope’s canonization on April 27, 2014.
Dziwisz sent the blood relic through Sister Nancy Banares, a Filipina nun of the Sisters of the Visitation who is the superior of the community in Bolechowise, Poland.
Dziwisz accompanied the vial with a personal letter to Tagle and an authentication certificate of the relic.
The Manila Cathedral, in its announcement, said, “This is the first ever blood relic of the great Pope still in liquid form stored in a glass container here in our country.”
The relic came as the Manila Cathedral celebrates the 60th anniversary of its rebuilding after World War II.
The relic may be brought out for special occasions like St. John Paul 2nd’s feast day on October 22, said Fr. Reginald Malicdem, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Manila.
Malicdem said that doctors extracted blood from then Pope John Paul 2nd when he was suffering from complications from Parkinson’s disease.
There are only seven vials of the liquid blood relic of St. John Paul 2nd enshrined in different churches around the world, and one of them is at the Manila Cathedral.
The other blood relic were at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican; the Bamboo Gesu Children’s Hospital, a pilgrim relic that belongs to the Postulator of the Causes of the Pope; the John Paul II Center in Krakow, Poland; the National Shrine and Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Cherash, Malaysia.
Malicdem said it was last year when the archdiocese wrote the Vatican to request for relics of three important popes who were recently beatified and canonized, and are closely connected to the Cathedral.
They are Pope St. John 23rd, who was the Pope during the rebuilding and dedication of the cathedral in 1958; Blessed Paul 6th, who celebrated Mass at the Cathedral in 1970; and St. Pope John Paul 2nd who celebrated Mass at the cathedral in 1981 and was also the one who elevated it to a Minor Basilica.
He died of septic shock on April 2, 2005 at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City. He was canonized on April 27, 2014 together with the late Pope John 23rd.