ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Hundreds flocked to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine on Monday to witness an official relic, which holds the blood of Pope John Paul II.
Monday was a time for music, prayer and worship. When the moment came to view the relic containing the blood of the pope, some kissed it. Others let their personal items touch it. All felt they were being blessed by something holy.
"I'm glad that when I got to the altar, they let me put my medal on the relic, which was a wonderful feeling. You just feel energized," said Rosaria Dziergowski.
"It's a slice of heaven to be able to come here to St. Johns County, to St. Augustine, to be able to see the saint, our Pope John Paul II, who will become a saint very soon," said Roberta Wente. "It was just a blessing for our family."
The blood inside the relic was drawn from the late pope in the days leading up to his death in April 2005. It was saved and later placed in vials for devoted Catholics to see. For many, it was a very emotional experience.
"He is everything, everything I can possibly imagine," Dziergowski said. "He is God on Earth for me."
One of the most moving moments came when one of the priests told a story about meeting the pope several years ago and asking him for a special prayer for his father, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease.
"Father Morgan, in one of their meetings, simply asked the pope if he would pray for his father, who also had Parkinson's," said Father Tom Willis, of Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. "At a subsequent meeting, the pope went up to Father Morgan and asked him how his father was doing. It brought the house down. They were very, very touched by that story in the church today."
The late pope will be canonized as a saint in April. For these worshippers, there's no better choice.
"You have to be special. You have to be honest and pure and good. And he is, he was," Dziergowski said.
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