smh - A vial containing blood drawn from Pope John Paul II shortly before he died will be installed as a relic in a Polish church soon after his beatification this year.
Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Centre, said the vial would be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the southern city of Krakow that is opening in May.
The exact date of the opening is not yet known, but it should be shortly after John Paul's beatification at the Vatican on May 1.
Advertisement: Story continues below
Mr Sionko said the idea came from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow and a long-time friend and secretary of the late pontiff.
The blood was drawn for medical tests at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome shortly before John Paul's death on April 2, 2005, and is now in Cardinal Dziwisz's possession, he said.
''It was the cardinal's proposal,'' Mr Sionko said. ''He is of the opinion that this is the most precious relic of John Paul II and should be the focal point of the church.''
The church in the Lagiewniki district is part of a centre that will be devoted to the memory and the teachings of the late pope - who was born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, southern Poland, and spent decades in Krakow.
Catholics are rejoicing over Pope Benedict XVI's announcement last week that he will beatify John Paul, the last main step before possible sainthood.
However, the idea of displaying the pope's relics has met with some reservations.
''The tradition of relics comes from mediaeval practices of teaching the Bible through images and symbols,'' said the Reverend Krzysztof Madel, a Jesuit priest in Nowy Sacz who has publicly questioned the usefulness of displaying John Paul's blood. ''But in today's rationalised world the message should rather come through teaching about someone's life.''
After John Paul's death, some Polish officials said they hoped his heart would be removed from his body and returned to his homeland for burial.....