May 13, 1981. Pope John Paul II was shot twice by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. Although he nearly lost three quarters of his blood, the bullets missed every vital organ in his body. “One hand fired but another one guided the bullet” as John Paul II put it. He was aware of the date. It was the anniversary of the first of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. JPII publicly attributed the preservation of his life to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title Our Lady of Fatima. In gratitude to her, one of the bullets was placed into the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Shrine at Fatima.
Shortly after fully recovering, the pontiff visited the prison cell of his would-be assassin. No one knows what was said. However, in one of his last books, Memory and Identity, the Pope revealed some of what was exchanged. He remarks that the fact that the bullet missed was totally incomprehensible to Agca. He was a perfect shot. He never missed. How did the Pope survive?
<to be continued>