Craigneuk church to receive Pope’s relic

Saint John Paul II
Saint John Paul II

A relic of St John Paul II will be installed at St Patrick’s Church, Craigneuk, in October by Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal.

The relic is one of four vials of the former Pope’s blood, drawn in case they were ever needed for transfusion, but never used.

After his death in 2005, Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz was given two of the vials.

Father Krzysztof Garwolinski wrote to Archbishop Dziwisz requesting the visit of a relic as he believed it would bring the community closer together.

Fr Garwolinski said: “I never personally met St John Paul II, but I took part in pilgrimages when I was younger in both our native Poland and in Rome and co-celebrated mass in 1999 which was a great experience and it was an honour to be in his presence.

“St John Paul II was like a father figure to us all and I hope that by bringing his relic to St Patrick’s that the parish can become a centre of devotion to him.

“I wrote to Archbishop Dziwisz explaining the situation in St Patrick’s with the large Polish community and thought that the relic would be a good way to inspire a revival of the faith.”

St John Paul II was the first Pope to visit Scotland and had a direct link to St Patrick’s, having raised Craigneuk’s Thomas Winning to the rank of cardinal.

Indeed Cardinal Winning, then an archbishop, personally persuaded the Pope not to call off his 1982 visit to Scotland which was under threat due to the conflict in the Falklands.

Fr Garwolinski added: “Obviously we have Scots here as well as Poles and they are very well integrated but I hope the relic being here will bring them closer together. “

The relic will be placed permanently in the Sacred Heart altar on Sunday, October 18, and the church’s opening times will be extended to give people a chance to see it.

Preparations are ongoing to receive the relic and every Tuesday at 7pm from September 1 a Holy Hour will be held featuring a prayer of adoration to Saint John Paul II.

As part of the celebrations tenor Martin Aelred will give a free concert at 7.30pm on Friday, October 16, with donations requested in aid of Let the Children Live.

The church is also planning an exhibition devoted to St John Paul II and is requesting people to submit pictures of them meeting him or being in his presence to put on display.