Relic of Pope John Paul II on its way to Mexico
A vial containing the late pope John Paul II's blood will soon be winging its way to Mexico in a bid to help bring down crimes rates in the largely Catholic country, Vatican Radio reported Wednesday.
An episcopal conference in Mexico has requested that the relic be sent over and, the official radio reported, the 'relic' will arrive in the country on August 17 before being taken to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
A week later the vial of blood from the blessed Pope John Paul, a title he acquired posthumously after his successor Benedict XVI beatified him in May, will be taken on a pilgrimage to other Catholic dioceses around the country.
The relic will be accompanied by a statue of the late Polish pope, born Karol Wojtyla, with the intended message one of reconciliation.
Killings in parts of Mexico have shot up in recent years amid a military crackdown on organized crime and drug cartels which has sent soldiers onto the streets.
"The reminder of John Paul II and the love he had for our country should push us to reinforce the faith of the Mexican people, at a time when our nation is undergoing profound social change," Mexico's bishops said in a statement run on Vatican radio.
Several vials of blood were taken from Pope John Paul II during the last days of his life in 2005. They have since taken on the aura of holy relics, with Catholic faithful invited to venerate them.
John Paul II made his first ever overseas trip to Mexico in 1979, and followed that with four more visits.