By Jose Antonio Varela Vidal
ROME, APRIL 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- As time goes by, more riches left by the now Blessed John Paul II, both to the Church as well as the world, are discovered.
A year after the beatification of the Polish Pope, we visited the church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, which many already recognize as a “shrine of Divine Mercy” – and also of John Paul II. They pause before a relic that contains his blood and a large painting of the beloved Pope, blessed some years ago by his former secretary and today cardinal of Krakow, archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.
Others go there to see the chair the Blessed used during his visit, now used every day by the rector of the church, Monsignor Josef Bart, who entrusts himself to the Blessed Pope.
ZENIT spoke with Monsignor Bart, who as a Pole, makes every effort to make the gift of Divine Mercy known, as well as its two great apostles: St. Faustina Kowalska and Blessed John Paul II.
ZENIT: This church is very linked to John Paul II, no?
Monsignor Bart: Yes, the church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, which is just a few steps from St. Peter’s Basilica, is a church that Blessed John Paul II, by a personal decision, dedicated to the worship of Divine Mercy. He brought to the See of Peter, from his native Krakow, capital of Divine Mercy, this great message given to Saint Faustina Kowalska, and he wished that from here, the heart of Christianity itself, the cry would rise to the mercy of God.
ZENIT: And now it has also become a shrine for John Paul II.
Monsignor Bart: Of course, given that this church was dedicated by John Paul II to Divine Mercy, which he greatly highlighted during his pontificate. Since his death, there is a side chapel in this church dedicated to him with his relic, a drop of blood deposited in an old reliquary. His presence and relic are here to help those who come to this church to receive this great patrimony that John Paul II left us, together with Saint Faustina.
ZENIT: Over the past year, following his beatification, do people visit this chapel much?
Monsignor Bart: Given that John Paul II died on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy, undoubtedly after his death many people have discovered this great message. Since his death the number of pilgrims to this church has increased considerably, both to venerate the image of Divine Mercy as well as to honor the great apostle of Divine Mercy that John Paul II was, and to venerate Saint Faustina.
ZENIT: Do people speak of graces received by the intercession of Blessed John Paul II?
Monsignor Bart: Every day when people come to this shrine and get close to John Paul II’s relic, they leave letters with different intentions asking for someone’s conversion, or the return of a child who for a long time has not come back to his family. They also pray for sick children, as our church is close to the hospital of the Child Jesus, and parents come to pray and to ask for graces.
ZENIT: And are there letters for graces received?
Monsignor Bart: Some have received the grace of a job, especially now that we are in a great economic crisis and many persons have lost their jobs. We know that John Paul II was a worker and that he appreciated work, and he made every effort during his pontificate so that every man would have the right to work.
ZENIT: Over this past year, what do people recognize of the new Blessed, to the extent that they know him?
Monsignor Bart: John Paul II was a man of great courage. Let’s not forget that he began his pontificate saying: “Do not be afraid!” Today, faced as we are with many problems in the world, of both a material as well as spiritual nature, persons who are tempted to fall into despair, sadness, anguish and loneliness, find in John Paul II’s pontificate — in his person, in the rich teaching he left us — great courage to fix their gaze on Christ and to trust in his infinite mercy, from which every grace comes.[Translation by ZENIT]