John Paul II Says He Owes His Life to Mary

Recalls May 13, 1981, Assassination Attempt

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- On the 20th anniversary of the assassination attempt against him, John Paul II again attributed his survival to the Blessed Virgin Mary.



In thanksgiving, the Pope celebrated a Mass this Sunday morning in St. Peter´s Basilica, during which he ordained 34 priests.

At the end of the Mass, when he greeted thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square, he said of Mary´s intercession: "I myself was able to experience her protection on May 13 twenty years ago." On May 13, 1981, Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca shot and seriously wounded the Holy Father.

The Pope´s interpretation of that decisive event in his life was confirmed by Sister Lucia, the surviving visionary of the 1917 apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.

Last May the Vatican revealed the "third secret" of Fatima. According to Sister Lucia, a figure "clothed in white" described in the account of the third part of the Fatima revelations referred to the Pope.

Last May 13, at the end of the Mass for the beatification of Fatima visionaries Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano read a statement on the revelation concerning the third secret.

The statement said, in part: "According to the interpretation of the ´little shepherds,´ which was also recently confirmed by Sister Lucia, the ´Bishop clothed in white´ who prays for all the faithful is the Pope. As he makes his way with great effort towards the Cross amid the corpses of those who were martyred (Bishops, priests, men and women religious and many lay persons), he too falls to the ground, apparently dead, under a burst of gunfire."

Sister Lucia said she fully agrees with John Paul II´s later affirmation that "a maternal hand guided the bullet´s trajectory when the agonizing Pope stood on the threshold of death."