The relic of St. Maximilian Kolbe which will be venerated at the St. Francis Chapel in Boston's Prudential Center Mall. Credit: St. Francis Chapel.

Relics of St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. John Paul II will be coming to a Boston mall’s Catholic chapel, and a local priest hopes they will help mall patrons encounter the reality of Christian love. “Our hope is that these relics will be a source of spiritual wealth for the Church of Boston,” Father James Doran, O.M.V., told CNA. “We hope that all the faithful who live and work in Boston and all those who travel there will know that right in the heart of the city they have access to the two greatest treasures the Church possesses: the Sacraments and relics of the saints.”

Father Doran is director of the St. Francis Chapel at Boston’s Prudential Center mall. The mall, located in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, hosts more than 75 shops and restaurants. Cardinal Sean O’Malley will celebrate an Oct. 16 Mass there just after noon as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who run the chapel. Venerable Pio Bruno Lanteri founded the oblates in Turin in 1817.

The Mass will launch public veneration of the relics, which will remain at the mall chapel. Father Doran reflected on the character of the saints whose relics the chapel will house.

“These three saints in particular encountered modernity with the full force of Christian love, sometimes in confrontation but also in invitation,” he said. “The mall is a place where encounter and exchange happens, not just of material goods but personal goods even more importantly.” “With the relics of these saints here we hope the faithful will find a place for contemplative refreshment, gospel formation and the challenge to take up in full freedom the responsibility and privilege of finding God in all things and living by the movements of the Holy Spirit and His gifts and not by blind market forces,” the priest continued.

St. Maximillian Kolbe had served as a missionary priest in Japan and ran a printing press in the face of Nazi occupation. In August 1941, he volunteered to take the place of an innocent husband and father about to be executed at a concentration camp. The Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska saw apparitions of Christ and brought the devotion of the Divine Mercy to the world. The pontificate of St. John Paul II, the first Polish Pope, included the collapse of the Soviet Union and the effort to evangelize around the world.

“What we learn from these great saints is especially relevant for our modern times, that is, to not be afraid,” Dolan commented. “Clearly, that was a theme of St. John Paul’s entire pontificate but manifested also in the lives of Faustina and Maximilian. Fear is the result of the absence of love.”

The relic of St. Maximillian Kolbe, hair from his beard, was obtained from his monastery in Poland. The relic of St. John Paul II is also a piece of hair, obtained by an Oblate priest in Rome, the Boston Pilot reports. The third relic, a chip of bone from St. Faustina, came to the oblates as a surprise. They had been trying to obtain a relic of the saint, but could not meet the requirements of her convent. A woman who was a frequent attendee at the chapel came forward with a relic of the nun she had obtained when St. Faustina was beatified. She said she felt God wanted her to donate it.

The Prudential Center chapel was founded in 1969. Staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary since the early 1980s, it offers daily Mass, Confession, and Eucharistic Adoration. “The chapel is known as an oasis of prayer, silence and mercy in the heart of the city,” Doran said.