By Beth Donze
On Halloween – the day that literally means “the eve of All Saints” – students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Kenner had the privilege to encounter one of the most beloved saints of their time: St. John Paul II, who served as pope from 1978 to 2005.
On Oct. 31, following a prayer service inside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s campus church, a tiny sample of St. John Paul’s blood, kept within the pages of a book, was made available to the school community for veneration.
“When I first walked up to the relic, I felt a sense of serenity around me,” said seventh grader Skylar Salles. “It made me feel like nothing could hurt me. It made me feel like my worries were gone.”
The relic was taken to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School by two Miami-based Sisters Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The nuns also presented the relic to Notre Dame Seminary for veneration there on Nov. 1 (to coincide with All Saints’ Day and the anniversary of St. John Paul II’s ordination to the priesthood).
The droplet of blood is categorized as a “first-class relic,” which signifies it is the physical remains of a saint; a second-class relic is an item owned by the saint, such as a piece of clothing or a book; and a third-class relic is an item that the saint has touched or that has been touched to a first-, second- or other third-class relic.
Holy cards given to each student before the prayer service became third-class relics themselves when they were touched to the relic of St. John Paul II.
The blood relic is on loan to the sisters through January 2018. Its permanent home is at Immaculate Mary and St. Benedict Joseph Labre Church in Rome.
After being presented for veneration at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the relic traveled to Divine Mercy Church in Kenner; Notre Dame Seminary; and Christ the King Church, on the campus of LSU.
During the period of veneration at the Kenner school, the Sisters Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary touched the relic to the stomach of a pregnant teacher.
Some of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students could be seen tearing up after venerating the relic. Many said they felt the saint’s presence in church that day and had put their holy cards in a special place at home.
Sixth grader Brooke DiMaggio said she felt a growing connection to St. John Paul II after kissing his relic and then noticing how others in line reacted to its presence.
“I saw more and more folded hands of my peers and even from younger children,” Brooke said. “The music playing made me tear up, and I believe that was the doing of the Holy Spirit. I want to thank the school and the nuns that were here for giving us this amazing experience!”