Skip to content

A Mother's Hand Guided the Bullets: John Paul II, Forgiving a Would-Be-Assassin

By Brother Randall J. Meissen, LC
4/27/2011 (5 years ago)
JohnPaulMoments.com (johnpaulmoments.com)

As John Paul II took the hand of his would-be-assassin, he showed us that a Christian must forgive his enemies, even when they do not want forgiveness.

Death had appeared all but certain to bystanders when three bullets fired by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca tore through the pope's flesh on May 13, 1981.  By John Paul II's assessment, "It was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path."

One of the bullets that struck John Paul II remains in the crown of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal.

One of the bullets that struck John Paul II remains in the crown of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal.

ROME, Italy (John Paul Moments) - On December 27, 1983, as John Paul II sat in a bare, whitewashed jail cell of Rome's Rebibbia prison, he was unprepared for the question voiced by an unshaven prisoner to his side, "So why aren't you dead?"

Why aren't you dead?
 
Death had appeared all but certain to bystanders when three bullets fired by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca tore through the pope's flesh on May 13, 1981, staining the pope's white cassock with deathly scarlet. 

Ali Agca was a professional assassin, he had aimed at close range, and he had aimed well.  But somehow, the bullets missed lethal targets, one grazing the pope's right elbow, and another deflecting off his left index finger before passing through his abdomen, a fraction of an inch from a major artery.

By John Paul II's assessment, "It was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path," and permitted that "the dying Pope. stopped on the threshold of death."  The assassination attempt had taken place on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the pope had no doubt that his survival was due to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

In gratitude, the Pope gave one of the deadly bullets to the bishop in charge of the shrine at Fatima, Portugal.  To this day, that bullet remains in the crown of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary housed at that shrine.

However, as John Paul II sat at the side of his would-be-assassin, Ali Agca expressed fears that this Lady of Fatima might come after him next.  The pope stated the contrary; he himself had come to forgive, not to harm.  But Ali Agca did not ask for forgiveness.

Thus, as the pope took the hand of the gunman, he showed us that a Christian must forgive his enemies, even when they do not want forgiveness.

---

Randall J. Meissen, LC, author of Living Miracles: The Spiritual Sons of John Paul the Great, is a former professor at Legion of Christ College in Cheshire, Connecticut, and currently works in youth ministry in Valencia, Spain. He can be contacted at rmeissen(at)johnpaulmoments(dot)com.

© 2011, JohnPaulMoments.com. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.

---

JohnPaulMoments.com is dedicated to promoting the teaching of John Paul II through the radio and podcast program "John Paul 2 Moments" and various print publications.


Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

Quotes of the Saints - Five saints have a message for you on this Thanksgiving holiday Watch

Image of Let us remember to give thanks for this day the Lord has made.

If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His ... continue reading


St. Ignatius of Antioch: Model of Bravery, Man for our Times Watch

Image of One of many icons of St. Ignatius of Antioch

In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October ... continue reading


St Francis Through the Eyes of His Friend St Bonaventure Watch

Image of Francis of Assisi in prayer

There is so much to write about in this marvelous account of the life of one of my own personal heroes, the saint whose witness led me ... continue reading


A Promise to God: St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle Watch

Image of Michael is also represented in icons as standing on a horizontal body and with his left arm held high, holding a small image of a

Though I am not strong enough to hold the suffering souls in my arms and carry them home, I can do one thing: I can pray for the ... continue reading


The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels and Powerful Spiritual Allies Sent by Love and for Love Watch

Image of

The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.