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On Wednesday, May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate the pope, St. John Paul II, by firing a handgun at close range. The pope was shot four times and suffered severe blood loss as he made his way through St. Peter’s Square in the pope-mobile, responding to the warm greetings of the faithful and pilgrims before the general audience. At 5:19pm, the pope was the victim of an assassination attempt perpetrated by a young Turkish man named Mehmet Ali Agca. In later days, the pope visited and forgave Agca, who was later pardoned by the Italian President Carlo Ciampi at the pope’s request.

The pope uttered the words “Mary. My Mother. Mary! My Mother!” upon being shot, and credits the Blessed Mother with preserving his life.

During the general audience, the Holy Father had intended to speak to the faithful about a theme very dear to him and to the Church: that of work and workers, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the publication of “Rerum Novarum” — the great encyclical of Pope Leo XIII. He also intended to make two important announcements on his initiatives to defend and protect marriage and family life.

The pope attributed his survival to the direct intervention of the Mother of God. Indeed, one of the would-be assassin’s bullets is poignantly now enshrined in Our Lady’s crown in Fatima. Ali Agca, the terrorist who attacked Pope John Paul II has said that his intention was not to kill the Pope, but instead to injure him. He also spoke of the outcome of the attack of May 13, 1981 as a miracle.

Special Thanks to Rome Report for their collaboration.