On 13th May 1981, a man called Mehmet Ali Ağca attempted to assassinate Pope St John Paul II, shooting him as he travelled through the crowds of St Peter’s Square where 20,000 people had gathered to see the Pope. As he was rushed to hospital, he muttered the words “Mary! My mother!” over and over.
It was a truly significant date: on 13th May 1917, Our Lady began appearing to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. John Paul II then requested to see the Third Secret of Fatima and promptly consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Pope would later say that “it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death”. One of the bullets from the attempt was later placed in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Ağca himself was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but at the request of the Pope, he was pardoned in June 2000. Pope John Paul also asked for prayers for “my brother” Ağca, whom he had “sincerely forgiven”, and the two struck up a friendship.
The pictures below depict the incident.
Read more about Fatima and the visions of Our Lady to three shepherd children: Sts Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and Sr Lucia
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