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Museums Exhibits

New museum of Polish-born Pope John Paul II to open weeks before his elevation to sainthood

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    Monday, April 7: Original robes that cardinals wore during the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and a copy of the Book of Gospels that the wind closed during that ceremony. (The Associated Press)

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    April 7, 2014: The Browning HP 9mm handgun that would-be assassin Ali Agca used against Pope John Paul II injuring him in a May 13, 1981 attack in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. (The Associated Press)

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    April 7, 2014: The sneakers, an electric torch and a plastic bottle that future Pope John Paul II used as priest and bishop during his kayaking and mountain trekking excursions in Poland. (The Associated Press)

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    April 7, 2014: The figure of blessed Pope John Paul II is pictured before the Holy Mary’ Offering Basilica where he was baptized as an infant in Wadowice, Poland. (The Associated Press)

A new museum in Poland is offering viewers a chance to see what it's like to walk in the shoes of a saint — or at least to have a look at the black socks he wore for the journey.

With the late Pope John Paul II's elevation to sainthood set for later this month, his hometown of Wadowice is celebrating with the grand opening of a 6.2 million euro ($8.5 million) multimedia facility to show the faithful about his steps in life.

The museum is opening Wednesday in the southern city of Wadowice, where Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920. It documents John Paul's life from his youth as the son of an army officer, to priesthood and through the 26-year papacy that led to sainthood.

The museum features personal items like the sneakers and socks that the Rev. Wojtyla used in his kayaking and trekking excursions, his sunglasses, a plastic water bottle, family photos and the kneeler on which he prayed as a boy and teenager.

Also included is the Browning HP 9mm handgun which Mehmet Ali Agca used in attempting to assassinate the pope May 13, 1981. Beside the gun is a photo of the pope meeting Agca in prison to bestow forgiveness, and a replica of the bullet that injured the pontiff.

The Rev. Dariusz Ras, the museum director, told The Associated Press on Monday he hopes that the new exhibition will reach out to a whole new generation of the faithful with recordings of speeches, videos and reconstruction of the house where he was born.

The idea is to "show the pope before the canonization throughout his life, at his birthplace, in a form that is best for the young generation," he said.

Pope Francis is to canonize John Paul at the Vatican on April 27.