Redemptor Hominis Church
One of three churches in North America decorated with mosaics by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, the Redemptor Hominis Church has a glittering outer wall that captures pilgrims’ attention as they enter the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. As the center of prayer and encounter with God in the Sacraments, and positioned in the center of the building, the Redemptor Hominis Church is truly the heart of the Shrine.
Named for Pope John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis (Redeemer of Man), the Shrine’s church invites its visitors to contemplate the mystery of God’s profound love for mankind, to worship Him, and to receive Him. The Scriptural scenes covering the walls tell the history of our salvation, while the saints depicted on the pillars remind us that we are part of God’s people, the Body of Christ, which spans all of time and space.
An expertly carved ambo, altar, and presider’s chair, sculpted from Italian marble by artist Edoardo Ferrari, also adorn this sacred space at the Shrine. The ambo illustrates the women who went to embalm Christ’s body. They are shown coming out from the empty rock tomb, hurrying away to share the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection with his Apostles. In fact, they appear to be in motion toward the main altar on which the Apostles are carved. The altar, in turn, seems to be literally resting on the feet of the Apostles, whom Jesus commissioned to carry His Church into the world.
The altar also contains relics of several saints, many of whom were beatified or canonized by Pope John Paul II: St. François de Laval, St. José María Robles Hurtado, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. John Neumann, and St. Junípero Serra.