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A capsule containing the blood of Pope John Paul II will be flown to Mexico next week and displayed in more than 100 locations across the country, officials announced Tuesday. The blood – drawn in a hospital before the pope’s death in 2005 – will be on view in Mexico until mid-December, the country’s Catholic Bishops Council said.
A collection of relics connected to the former pope and a rendering of his face copied from a mold taken after his death will also be part of the display, officials said.
“In the perception of a Mexico plunged into terror, pain, hopelessness, anguish, vengeance and rancor as a result of insecurity and violence … the veneration of the relics will be an opportunity for the baptized and people of good will to turn their eyes to God,” the Rev. Manuel Corral, the council’s public relations secretary, told reporters.
In their journey around Mexico, the relics will travel more than 13,980 miles. They are scheduled to arrive in Mexico City on August 17 and will go on public display August 25.
Nearly 84% of Mexicans say they are Catholic, according to the country’s 2010 census.
Santa Muerte is a sacred figure venerated in Mexico, probably a syncretism between Mesoamerican and Catholic beliefs. The name literally translates to “Holy Death” or “Saint Death.” Mexican culture since the pre-Columbian era has maintained a certain reverence towards death, which can be seen in the widespread Mexican celebration of the syncretic Day of the Dead. Catholic elements of that celebration include the use of skeletons to remind people of their mortality.
The number of believers in Santa Muerte has grown over the past ten to twenty years, to approximately two million followers and has crossed the border into Mexican American communities in the United States.
It’s amazing what Catholicism can morph into when left alone to mingle with other superstitions. The blood of Pope John Paul II is another example of crazy.