For many, he was the only Pope they knew. For others, his youthful vigor and willingness to reach out to all people and, indeed, travel the world to evangelize was something they had not seen before. His love for young people is evidenced in the success of World Youth Day, which he began and became a world-wide success. As one of the longest reigning Popes, it is sometimes easy to forget how young and active he was when he first took office. Too often the images we see are of his later years when physical limitations took their toll while his mind remained as sharp and resolute as ever.
With the prospect of Sainthood drawing near, his name will be in the news once again. But even before that event we have evidence of the great love and admiration for him in the many shrines dedicated to him throughout the world.
One of the most significant is the Shrine of Blessed John Paul II in Washington, DC. After having some tough times getting started it was sold to the Knights of Columbus in 2012 and with their financial and organizational might we expect it will become one of the most visited shrines in the world.
Other shrines may have garnered less publicity but have an interesting story nonetheless. An example would be the simple shrine in Bataan, the Philippines. It was here that Pope John Paul II came in 1981 to celebrate Mass in a remote refugee camp populated with an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians (known as “the boat people”) who had fled here for safety in the late 1970’s. Many of these people were not Christian and did not even know who he was, but the message of hope buoyed their spirits. This is a small shrine and we are not aware of a website for the shrine.
Of course, as expected, there is a shrine to him in his native Poland in the city of Krakow. The new John Paul II Cultural Center in Krakow has just been completed and is still being staffed. Since the next World Youth Day in 2016 will be in Krakow this is sure to be one of the main attractions.
Is there a Shrine to Pope John Paul II we haven’t mentioned? Please let us know and we will add it or you can post it here yourself.