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Polish Hill Church Marking Historic Canonization By Enshrining Relic

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Pittsburgh's Polish Hill section will mark Sunday's canonization of two popular 20th century popes with a special ceremony involving a relic of Pope John Paul II's.

The church has a relic of the Pope's blood-stained cassock. During a service, it will be placed inside a tabernacle and be on permanent display.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Pastor Fr. Joseph Swierczynski said the artifact was given to him last year, by the long-time secretary to Pope John Paul II.

The secretary was in Pittsburgh last year for a Polish priests' convention, and as the convention was wrapping up, Fr. Swierczynski was given the gift.

The cassock was the garment the Pope was wearing in 1981 when he was shot and wounded during an assassination attempt.

"We're a Polish parish and all that. We're elated that we have possession of that relic," said Fr. Swierczynski.

Later, Pope John Paul II visited the prison where the gunman was being held and said he forgave him.

The relic will be housed permanently in a tabernacle in a side altar in the Polish Hill church.

In 1983, the late KDKA-TV anchor Patti Burns visited the Vatican with a group of Pittsburghers, and had a brief audience with Pope John Paul II, presenting him with a plaque from local Catholics.

Along with Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII will also be elevated to sainthood in an unprecedented, dual papal canonization ceremony.

Bishop Zubik Heading To Rome For Canonization Of 2 Popes (4/24/14)
Benedict To Join In Double Sainthood Ceremony (4/26/14)
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