Saint John Paul II arguably had one of the most influential pontificates in Church history. It is, therefore, fitting that the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC is dedicated to preserving the life and legacy of this great pope. The shrine has been an active ministry of the Knights of Columbus since 2011, and was designated a national shrine by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2014.
This growing shrine welcomes nearly 64,000 pilgrims and visitors annually and boasts an impressive 16,000 square-foot permanent exhibit entitled “A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II”, which contains moving videos, dynamic interactive displays, and personal artifacts of the pontiff.
The shrine also has a church and a chapel with floor-to-ceiling mosaics designed by world-renowned Catholic artist, Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, which enliven two of Saint John Paul’s teachings, his 1979 Redemptor Hominisencyclical and the “Mysteries of Light” added to the rosary in 2002. Another popular and sacred item at the shrine is a first-class blood relic that is available for veneration.
Visitors to the shrine will find both a memorable and spiritual experience - from the moving orientation video of the exhibit to seeing the unique liturgical garments Saint John Paul II wore during his visits to 129 countries and from the spiritually uplifting inner movement of praying in a church or chapel while surrounded by sacred art that pilgrims learn about in greater detail during a daily public tour.
But what also really makes the shrine appeal to families, men, and women of all ages is the active pastoral programs that foster the spirituality of Catholics within the region by teaching them how to apply Saint John Paul II teachings into their daily lives.