The new Blessed John Paul II Seminary in Washington was dedicated recently by Cardinal Donald Wuerl — and its chapel contains some interesting history:
Tangible reminders of Blessed John Paul II’s life and legacy abound in the archdiocesan seminary named in his honor. His name graces the seminary’s entranceway, and a portrait of the pope painted by Pittsburgh artist Robert Daley is displayed at the chapel’s entranceway. Inside the chapel is displayed an amice, a liturgical vestment worn by Blessed John Paul II as he celebrated Mass.
A reliquary near the chapel’s altar displays a first-class relic, the blood of Blessed John Paul II stained on the cassock he was wearing when he was shot and critically wounded during an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square in 1981.
During the seminary’s dedication Mass, Cardinal Wuerl said that relic serves as a reminder to present and future priests that it is not always easy to take up Jesus’ cross. Afterward, the cardinal said placing the relic in the reliquary provided the most emotional moment in the Mass for him, as a flood of memories returned to him of the pope who ordained him as a bishop 25 years ago. The cardinal was a concelebrant at the May 1 beatification Mass in Rome for Blessed John Paul II.
The new chapel also connects the seminarians in a special way with Pope Benedict XVI. An apostolic blessing personally signed by that pontiff is on display at the chapel’s entrance, and the chapel’s altar is the one used by Pope Benedict XVI at his 2008 Papal Mass at Nationals Park in Washington.
“It (this altar) says to us that Benedict, who is the chief shepherd, who came to our country in the exercise of his ministry as successor to Peter, to confirm us in our faith, is the rock on which our Church stands and the rock that we turn to for support and confirmation in our faith,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his homily.
The cardinal also noted that the ambo used at the Papal Mass is also now in the seminary chapel, and “reminds us that it is the word of God that the priest proclaims, it is the teaching of the Church that he announces. His fidelity is to both, because it is not himself that he preaches but Jesus, and Jesus crucified.”
The altar Benedict used was built by a Maryland carpenter — who happens to be a deacon, Dave Cahoon. Read more about him here.