The Catholic Church has announced that a vial of blood from the deceased Pope John Paul II will tour South Florida beginning tonight.
A viewing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Saint Catherine of Siena Church, 9200 SW 107th Ave. Catholics will be able to touch a prayer card to the vial so they can have a mememto to take home.
The blood was taken from the pope during a transfusion not long before he died in 2005. John Paul, who will be sainted in April, was a groundbreaker, but also controversial. He traveled more than any of his predecessors and offered enormous help to the poor. But he also toured Cuba and spoke on a stand with Fidel Castro in Havana, and was rabidly opposed to abortion and the ordination of women.
At Saint Mary's Cathedral on November 3, Archbishop Thomas Wenski performed a homily welcoming the blood to Miami. According to the Archdiocese of Miami website, he didn't say much about the symbolism of the blood. He did, though, speak about people who "misunderstand" God. "Their problem is not really with God -- or even with the Church. The problem is with their idea of God, their idea of the Church."
After its stop at Saint Catherine's, the blood will travel to two locations in Broward and then, on November 21, to Saint Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center in Coral Gables.
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Three other vials are on display in Rome, Krakow, and Madrid. Last year, a vial of blood was stolen from a train outside Rome but later found in the grass at a train station.
Showing a future saint's blood fits with Catholic tradition. To some observers, though, it seems a little strange. Maybe someone could explain it to them and me.
Send your story tips to the author, Chuck Strouse.