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 (6 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

The Assumption of Mary

Image of

Why is the Assumption important? First, lets look at what this dogma is all about. On 1 November, 1950, Pope Pius XII issued the Apostolic ... continue reading


FEAST: St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers Watch

Image of St. Dominic: In his conversations and letters he often urged the brothers of the Order to study constantly the Old and New Testaments. He always carried with him the gospel according to Matthew and the epistles of Paul, and so well did he study them that he almost knew them from memory.

Today we honor Dominic. As the thirteenth century began, great errors were deceiving many of the faithful in the south of France. ... continue reading


Today is the feast of St. Dominic, but it's not such a big deal for Dominicans. Why not? Watch

Image of St. Dominic has a more important day on May 24.

Tuesday marks the Feast Day of St. Dominic, the 13th century priest known for founding the Order of Preachers, commonly called the ... continue reading


Cause for canonization opened for Filipino Jesuit who traded his life for that of his attacker Watch

Image of Richie Fernando died protecting his attacker.

Brother Richie Fernando was a 26 year-old Jesuit seminarian from the Philippines when in 1996 he died protecting his Cambodian students ... continue reading


Pope Francis will beatify two martyrs during visit to Colombia Watch

Image of Pope Francis will beatify two martyrs when he visits Colombia.

During his six-day visit to Colombia in September, Pope Francis will beatify martyrs Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. Pedro ... 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.