05/13/2014, 00.00
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Bishops gift king relics of the two pope saints

by Claudio Corti
King Bhumibol met the two saints during his long reign: John XXIII in 1960 in Italy; Pope John Paul II in 1984 in Thailand.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews) - A very special event for the small Thai Church (400,000 Catholics out of a population of 65 million inhabitants) on 11 May, at 18:54 , at the royal palace in Hua Hin, in the province of Praciuapsirikhan, a few hours' drive south of Bangkok, the bishops of the 10 dioceses of Thailand were received by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The occasion for the meeting between the representatives of the Catholic Church in Thailand and the king was the delivery of the relics of the two pope saints, John XXIII and John Paul II , recently canonized by Pope Francis. The relics were enclosed in two caskets, one containing a small piece of skin of St. John XXIII, and the other with a vial of the blood of St. John Paul II.

The 87 year old King of Thailand has reigned since 1950 and as the emeritus representative of Buddhism met both of the two Popes Saints. His meeting with Pope John XXIII took place in the Vatican in 1960 , during a visit by the King and Queen to Europe. The meeting with Pope John Paul II instead took place in Thailand, exactly 30 years ago, in May 1984 , an event that is dear to all Catholics in Thailand. At that time, Pope John Paul II visited the "Land of Smiles" as a guest of the monarchs.

The bishops of the Thai Episcopal Conference, led by Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu, Bishop Emeritus of Bangkok, presented the two relics and prayed for the good health of the king and queen, adding a special blessing for them.


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