First-class relics of Saints Pope John Paul II, Faustina Kowalska, and Maximilian Kolbe are now permanently housed at St. Francis Chapel. You can read about the installation ceremony in The Boston Pilot. Pilgrims and people from all walks of life who visit the Chapel can now ask for the prayerful intercession of the three Marian Saints of Mercy.
What Are First-Class Relics?
First-class relics are a part of the saint’s body, usually a piece of bone or hair. Praying to a first-class relic is a powerful way to ask for that Saint’s intercession to bring their prayers to God. A third-class relic is created by touching an object, such as a crucifix, to one of the first-class relics in prayer. Learn more about each of the three saints and visit the chapel to pray to their relics in person.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Franciscan Friar Maximilian Kolbe was sent to Auschwitz for fighting Nazi propaganda. When Nazi guards selected 10 people to be starved to death, Kolbe volunteered to die in place of a stranger whom the guards had selected. Miracles attributed to his intercession include curing a woman with intestinal tuberculosis and a man with calcification of the arteries.
St. Maximilian’s relic is taken from his beard, which was shaved in 1940 prior to being arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. The reliquary design represents the gate of Auschwitz. The relic is held in the center of the reliquary by four wires that represent the infamous concentration camp. The “M” atop the relic is the Marian symbol. The words “Veritas Liberavit Vos” translate as “The Truth Makes you Free” from John 8:38. These words contrast with the sign on the front gate of Auschwitz which translates as “Work will set you free”. Atop the columns of the gate are the two crowns of martyrdom and purity that our Lady offered to Maximilian when he was a boy.
“That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me, a Child of Faith. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”St. Maximilian Kolbe
- Am I able to transcend the difficulties of daily life and find ways to love in any situation?
- Do I regularly open my heart up to Our Lady and ask her to purify my intentions and bring me to Jesus?
- How often do I ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen as a soldier of Christ to witness to others of the power of God in my life?
Prayer of St. Maximilian Kolbe
“O Immaculate, Queen of heaven and earth, Refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to You, I, an unworthy sinner, cast myself at Your feet, humbly imploring You to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to Yourself as Your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death, and eternity, whatever pleases You. If it pleases You, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what has been said of You: “She will crush your head”, and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in Your immaculate and most merciful hands for introducing and increasing Your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed Kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For, wherever You enter, You obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification, since it is through Your hands that all graces come to us from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
Pope Saint John Paul II
John Paul II was our pope from 1978 to 2005. He peacefully but courageously witnessed to the truth about God and the human person against oppressions such as communism, dictatorships and the culture of death that made people fear life and lack trust in God. He was canonized in 2014 after two miracles were attributed to him. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand prayed to Pope John Paul II to overcome her battle with Parkinson’s disease, and Floribeth Mora Diaz was cured of a brain aneurysm after praying to the late pope.
The hair of St. John Paul II is in a papal reliquary. The reliquary has the symbols of papal authority:
- The papal tiara, a crown with three levels demonstrating the spheres of the pope’s responsibilities
- The keys of the Kingdom that St. Peter received from Christ
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.”St. John Paul II
- Can I name the fears that keep the door of my heart closed to Christ?
- What assumptions do I make about other human beings, especially the poor and vulnerable?
- Considering the suffering, death and ultimate resurrection of Christ, what is God telling me about the things that last forever and the things that fade away?
Prayer of Pope St. John Paul II to the Merciful Love of the Crucified King
“Merciful Love, we pray to You, do not fail!
Merciful Love, be tireless!
Be constantly greater than every evil which is in man and in the world. Be greater than that evil which has increased in our time and in our generation!
Be more powerful with the power of the crucified King!
Blessed be His Kingdom which is coming!”
Saint Faustina Kowalska
St. Faustina, canonized in 2000, is the patron saint of mercy. Throughout her life, Jesus appeared to her in visions telling her to spread His message of mercy. After praying at Faustina’s tomb, Maureen Digan was cured of her lymphedema. Fr. Ron Pytel had a badly damaged heart valve that was miraculously healed after praying to a relic of Faustina.
A piece of St. Faustina’s bone is housed as a relic in our chapel. Angels are featured on the reliquary, representing the angels who came during the renewal of her vows to strengthen Faustina and balance out the divine justice with mercy.
“O my God, how sweet it is to suffer for You, suffer in the most secret recesses of the heart, in the greatest hiddenness, to burn like a sacrifice noticed by no one, pure as crystal, with no consolation or compassion. My spirit burns in active love. I waste no time in dreaming. I take every moment singly as it comes, for this is within my power. The past does not belong to me; the future is not mine; with all my soul I try to make use of the present moment.”St. Faustina Kowalska
- Am I able to cast aside excuses for sin and trust entirely in the goodness of Jesus to forgive all failures in my life?
- Do I make regular acts of trust in the Providence of God and in His Merciful Love?
- What prevents me from making the Kingdom of God my greatest treasure?
Prayer of St. Faustina Kowalska
“O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbour.
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbours’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbour, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbours and take upon myself the most difficult and toilsome tasks.
Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbour, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness (…)
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbour. (…)
May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me”
The three Marian Saints of Mercy all discovered God’s peace, love and mercy in their lives with the help of Mary, mother of God. It’s our hope that their presence at St. Francis Chapel will help you to discover God’s mercy in your own life. Visit the chapel‘s first-class relics and pray for their intercession.