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Blood-stained cassock of Blessed John Paul II to be venerated in London

A reliquary at Blessed Pope John Paul II's beatification ceremony in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

A blood-stained piece of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s cassock is to be venerated in a Covent Garden church in London this evening.

The relic, which is being flown from Ireland today, will arrive at Corpus Christi church, Maiden Lane, in time for Mass at 7pm.

It is being brought by Fr John Hogan, the founder of the Fraternity of St Genesius, a group that prays for people involved in the arts.

The relic was given to Fr Hogan by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Kraków, in September.

Fr Hogan had requested a relic because Blessed John Paul II was a co-patron of his fraternity, founded in 2007.

Fr Hogan said: “[Cardinal Dziwisz] sent a beautiful letter back and said he was delighted a relic of Blessed John Paul II was going to Ireland.”

Cardinal Dziwisz had soaked the cassock in a vial of Blessed John Paul II’s blood, he said.

The cardinal, the late pope’s personal secretary, had been given two out of four vials of blood drawn from the pope by his personal doctor in the final stage of his illness. The vials had originally been sent to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome in case the pope needed a transfusion, but he never did.

The Fraternity of St Genesius, which has 1,300 members around the world, was founded to evangelise the arts and pray for people involved in cinema and the theatre.

Fr Hogan, who trained as an opera singer, came up with the idea for the association while praying at the tomb of St Genesius, the patron saint of actors, in Rome.

St Genesius was an actor who had a conversion experience while performing in a play mocking Christianity. He was tortured and then beheaded in AD 303.

The fraternity has a prayer group that meets monthly at Corpus Christi church in London. Fr Hogan described it as a “cenacle of prayer in the heart of a theatre city”.