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BOSTON -- One by one, dozens of people kneeled down to pray before the three reliquaries, golden and shining softly from the lights in Prudential Center's St. Francis Chapel, and containing relics of the three 20th century "Marian Saints of Mercy" -- St. Faustina, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope St. John Paul II.
Kan, a school-aged boy, held out the two crucifixes he wore around his neck, and gently touched them to the reliquaries. He exited the chapel, walking into the busyness of the Prudential Center, with a smile of his face.
He was happy and excited, he told The Pilot, because his crucifixes were now third-class relics, sacred objects in their own right. Behind him, still in the chapel, dozens of other people were lined up to do the same.
It was standing room only in St. Francis Chapel during the Oct. 16 Mass that inaugurated the public veneration of the relics of the three Polish saints, which will remain in the chapel permanently.
St. Francis Chapel is run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, and stands as a place of prayer, tranquility, and mercy amid the hustle and bustle of the surrounding shopping center.
Vicar general Bishop Peter Uglietto celebrated the Mass and blessed the relics.
In his homily, he spoke of the "deep devotion" that St. Faustina, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope St. John Paul II had to the Virgin Mary, and the mercy they exhibited throughout their lives.
"In our day, each one of us are called to be apostles of mercy, to be the hands of feet of the one who is mercy incarnate," said the bishop.
"We have the Blessed Mother as our motto and intercessor; we have the Marian saints of mercy of the 20th century as real life examples in our day, who continue to intercede for us as well. We have our lord, Jesus, who beckons us through the example, through the inspiration of the saints in our tradition," he continued.
"To continue the mission that he began and they continue and have left in our hands, we are called to be mercy incarnate," Bishop Uglietto said.
Following the homily and the prayers of the faithful, the bishop blessed the three reliquaries.
In the closing words before the end of the Mass, Father Jim Walther, OMV, provincial of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary U.S. Province, called the chapel an "oasis of mercy," and thanked the Archdiocese of Boston for its support.
The three Marian Saints of Mercy, he said, "are three people, just like you and I, who discovered God's mercy in their lives. Mary helped them discover that, and I hope their presence here help you discover that as well."
"I hope all who come here discover God's peace, God's love, and, most of all, God's mercy," he continued.
Standing in a long line of people waiting venerate the relics following the Mass, Jacob Martin, told The Pilot in a hushed voice about his devotion to the three saints.
"I love St. John Paul II. I'm a convert, and he played a great part of my conversion," said Martin.
He praised St. Faustina's devotion to Divine Mercy, and St. Maximilian Kolbe's merciful act of sacrificing his life to save a stranger's.
"I think about his story often," said Martin. "I love all three of them!"
Sister Caterina Esselen, OLM, was happy to have attended the Mass, and was even happier that the relic St. Faustina, also an OLM sister, was installed permanently in the chapel.
"It's very exciting to be at this place of mercy," she said.
"It's the beating heart of mercy right here in the city, and that's a great joy for us to be able to witness that and support that through our prayer," she added.