April 27th, 2011
06:58 AM ET
By Hada Messia and Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN) - Blood taken from the late Pope John Paul II will be used Sunday as the Vatican declares him "blessed," the last step before sainthood, the Catholic Church announced.
The blood will be on display as a relic for Catholic faithful to venerate at the beatification ceremony, the Vatican said this week.
Special relic holders have been made for two small glass bottles of John Paul's blood, the church said.
Pope Benedict XVI will preside Sunday over the beatification at St. Peter's, an event expected to draw hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful to Rome.
Benedict ruled that his predecessor should be beatified after a nun suffering from Parkinson's disease said she was cured after sisters in her order prayed to John Paul II.
Doctors took the from the pope before he died in 2005, the Vatican said in a statement Monday.
Medical staff wanted it for possible transfusions during what turned out to be the pope's final illness, but John Paul died without using it, the church said.
The blood was divided into four small bottles, two of which were kept by John Paul's secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and two of which remained at the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, the Vatican said.
One of the hospital's ampules will be on display on Sunday and will then enter the Vatican's "sacrarium," while the other will stay at the hospital.
The blood is still liquid because doctors added anti-coagulents to it when it was taken.
The Catholic tradition of venerating saints' physical remains - known as relics - dates back to the earliest days of the church.
With the beatification Sunday, John Paul II will not become a saint, but will be one step below it, and will be known as the Blessed John Paul II. The Vatican would have to credit him with a second miracle for him to be declared a saint.
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