The Knights of Columbus and the Saint John Paul II National Shrine
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine is a major pastoral initiative of the Knights of Columbus, a lay Catholic family organization with nearly two million members around the world.
Faithful to continuing the mission and legacy of Pope John Paul II, the Knights in 2011 established a shrine to him in the nation’s capital.
After five years of construction and the canonization of its patron, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims annually. It is a place of worship, religious formation, and cultural renewal.
A major permanent exhibit highlights significant events in the life of John Paul II and his momentous influence as the spiritual father of one billion Catholics and as a world leader. The Shrine also hosts talks, days of reflection, special devotions, and other events to feed the minds and souls of its visitors.
It is the Knights’ hope that this initiative will serve the life of the Church in the United States and will thus bear abundant fruit for the universal Church and for the world.
Statement by Supreme Knight at the Founding of the Shrine
On August 2, 2011, at the Knights of Columbus annual convention, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced the plan to purchase the John Paul II Cultural Center building and property and transform it into a shrine to Blessed John Paul II. In the Shrine, pilgrims would find hope in Christ, the Redeemer of man, and encouragement to live their faith joyfully and without fear.
“True to Pope John Paul II’s vision, and using the story of his life as an inspiration, this shrine will be an opportunity to evangelize and spread the Good News of the Gospel through a New Evangelization,” the Supreme Knight said in a public statement.
“Because of his tireless evangelization efforts, an entire generation of Catholics has become known as the ‘John Paul Generation,’ and, certainly, we are honored to continue to spread his profound and powerful message of hope for our country, our continent and our world.”
The Knights of Columbus and St. John Paul II
Pope John Paul II was a special friend of the Knights of Columbus. In his message to the Knights of Columbus in 2003, Pope John Paul II wrote: “By bearing witness to ‘the faith that works through love,’ the Knights can offer our world a powerful sign of the presence of God’s Kingdom and an attractive invitation to rediscover the reasons for the Church’s hope. This witness to a hope that does not disappoint is especially important.”
Throughout Pope John Paul II’s 26-year pontificate, the Knights of Columbus generously supported and completed numerous initiatives to expand the reach of Pope John Paul II’s teaching and message of hope and the New Evangelization, including through communication and technology.
Pope John Paul II recognized that the treasury of the Knights of Columbus was deeper than the financial support it provided in its many charitable works. He observed in 2003, “From its foundation, your Order has been committed to the material and spiritual well-being of its members and to the promotion of the Church’s mission.”