Memorabilia From the Beatification of Saint John Paul II
Memorabilia from the Beatification of Saint John Paul II

On Sunday, May 1st, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II before one and one-half million people. Among them was Father Richard Kunst, the Papal Artifacts’ Expert. These items are from Blessed John Paul’s beatification. They include the yellow ticket, the priest’s ticket, that permitted entrance to the ceremony, the Mass booklet used at the ceremony and the holy card that was given to those attending the ceremony.

The yellow ticket is purposely torn to show legal admittance to the ceremony.

Any time there is a special occasion at the Vatican, a booklet is produced to commemorate the occasion. They have glossy pages and are in various languages. Everyone attending receives a copy of these booklets. Father Kunst has dozens of these from various ceremonies including the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s pontificate as well as his funeral. You may view the rest of his collection of these items under Papal Artifacts: Mass Booklets From Various Ceremonies at the Vatican.

The following information was published on the Home page of Papal Artifacts after Blessed John Paul II’s beatification in May 2011.

The Curator’s Thoughts on the Beatification of Blessed John Paul II

I always knew one way or another I was going to be at the beatification of John Paul II even before he died. My devotion to him is so great that I knew that if he were beatified, by God’s will I would be there. And God made it possible. When I was there a couple of unique things happened. We had the good fortune to stay at a Five-Star hotel, and because of that, there were some prominent people there, including Lech Walesa, the charismatic co-founder of Solidarity in Poland (see Glossary for further information about him). Pope John Paul II worked closely with him to overthrow the Communist regime. I saw him in the lobby, although I didn’t get an opportunity to greet him.

Another group in the hotel was the whole Polish entourage, including President Bronislaw Komorowski and his wife, Anna Komorowska, and former Prime Minister Tadeuz Mazowiecki. I saw those people on a regular basis, actually, more often than Lech Walesa throughout the week. Also, the former and current heads of the Knights of Columbus were at the same hotel.

At one point during lunch, I met the widow of the primary surgeon who operated on John Paul II after his assassination attempt, and so she came and greeted us and told us a little of the history of what happened then. So that was a great experience, too, to meet someone with such a close connection to a very important time in the life of John Paul II.

The beatification ceremony itself was incredibly moving and there were two occasions that stand out. One was when the crowd was asked to be silent in prayer and one and one half-million people were silent together, when asked to be, for the sake of prayer and for remembering John Paul II. It was so moving to think all those people could be silent in prayer at the same time.

Another extremely moving time was that Sr. Maria Simon-Pierre, the nun who was cured of Parkinson’s disease, which was the miracle that lead to his beatification. She was the person who presented the first class relic to Benedict XVI. This was a vial of his blood in a silver reliquary. John Paul II had a rare form of blood and so he always had his own blood with him when he traveled in case of an emergency. Those vials of blood have now become relics and there are a handful of them owned by the hospital or by Cardinal Dzivisz, his Secretary of State. After Sr. Maria Simon-Pierre presented it to Pope Benedict XVI, he in turn gave it to the Polish nun who was the primary housekeeper for John Paul II, Sr. Tobiana, and then she carried it and put it on a stand set up near the altar of the beatification.

Another part of the ceremony that was absolutely amazing was that the continuous predictions of rain never materialized. It didn’t rain a drop. It was warm and sunny and totally confounded the weather predictions of bad and wet weather and some are calling that a minor miracle of Pope John Paul II.

It was a great experience to be present at the beatification and something I will not forget, something I can hold onto until, God willing, the canonization will occur and I will be able to attend. It was a very moving time, a very good time to be in Rome as well.