Relics of 'Saints of Mercy' headed to Pru chapel

BOSTON -- Amid the commotion of stores and restaurants and the hustle and bustle of tourists and shoppers in Boston's Prudential Center, St. Francis Chapel offers visitors a place to pray, worship, and escape from the commercial world through the spiritual one. Soon, it will offer one more thing: the public veneration of relics of three "Marian Saints of Mercy."

On Oct. 16 at 12:05 p.m.,Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will celebrate a Mass at the chapel to inaugurate the public veneration of first-class relics of three saints: St. Faustina, St. Maximillian Kolbe, and Pope St. John Paul II.

All three 20th-century Polish saints have helped the world "understand what mercy really is," Father Michael Warren, OMV, organizer of the upcoming Mass, told The Pilot Sept. 19.

Echoing the sentiments of Pope St. John Paul II, he said mercy "is not simply just the pardoning of a fault, but really the defining of what a person really is, the best of what a human being is meant to be and can be and is called to be."

It's an important message of the Catholic Church, and especially of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who run the chapel. Venerable Father Bruno Lanteri, founder of the Oblates, was a "part of the mercy movement in the Church in a big way," said Father Warren.

"In a certain sense, Father Lanteri helped to anticipate the real sweep, the passionate mercy movement that would be coming, starting with St. Faustina," who inspired the devotion of Divine Mercy, he continued.

It was that connection, as well as an impulse to evangelize, that led the chapel to attempt to acquire the three first-class relics.

While bringing the relics of the three saints to Boston was not "an impossible" task, they were "difficult" to obtain, said Father Warren.

For the relic of St. Maximillian Kolbe, he said, the Oblates had to write to his monastery in Poland, and offer assurances that the relic, hair from his beard, would be well taken care of and would be publically venerated. The relic of Pope St. John Paul II, also a piece of hair, was obtained with the help of an Oblate Father in Rome.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of the St. Faustina's relic, a chip of one of her bones, came as a "complete surprise," said Father Warren.

The Oblates had been trying to obtain a relic of St. Faustina, but were having trouble meeting the "stringent requirements" of the saint's convent.

It was then that a woman who frequents the chapel came to donate the relic of St. Faustina.

She explained that she felt God wanted her to donate the relic, which she had obtained when St. Faustina was beatified.

Father Warren attributes the donation to the intercession of Our Lady of Mercy.

"This is what she wanted," he said.

The Oct. 16 Mass, held as part of celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Oblates, will inaugurate the public veneration of the relics, which will then permanently remain in the chapel.

Father Warren said he is not aware of any other place in the country to have first-class relics of these three saints of mercy in one place, said Father Warren.

"We're really, really grateful that the Church has the opportunity to present the Gospel right here in the midst of all that visitation of millions of people," he said.