“Next to the cross and Our Lady of Guadalupe, John Paul II’s face is probably the most recognizable Catholic image in Latin America,” explained Ricardo Izquierdo, director of Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Lincoln, “and I know how beloved he is here as well. This common love for the pope who led us for so long is definitely a point of union, and having these bilingual sisters come with a relic of his seemed like a great opportunity to come together.”
The relic of St. John Paul II is being brought to the diocese by Sister María José Socias and Sister Guadalupe Hermosillo, from the Miami-based community of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Their community has been entrusted with the relic for one year.
Sister Guadalupe knew Bishop James Conley of the Diocese of Lincoln when they were both serving the Church in Denver, so the sisters graciously offered to share the relic with the people of his diocese through these visits.
Pope Saint John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, the second-longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX. Born in Poland, he was the first non-Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI in the 16th century. He helped to end Communist rule in Europe, upheld Church dogma while supporting the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, visited 129 countries during his pontificate, and emphasized the universal call to holiness and the new evangelization.
The cause for his canonization began a month after his death, with the traditional five-year waiting period waived. He was proclaimed Venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI December 19, 2009 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed one miracle to his intercession, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease.
A second miracle was approved and confirmed by Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II was canonized April 27, 2015, Divine Mercy Sunday, along with Pope John XXIII. His feast day, Oct. 22, is celebrated on the anniversary of his papal inauguration. He was only 58 years old when he became pope, and was the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years.