It’s 5:19 pm, and as the Pope travels along in an open air car, he blesses the crowd.
Out of nowhere, and armed hand springs out of the mass.
Just seconds later the Pope is struck by two gunshots.
Moments after the Pope was shot, the “Popemobile” urgently headed towards the Gemelli Clinic.
The attacker tried to flee the scene, but was arrested.
Unconscious, he was carried to the operating theatre.
His pulse was almost inaudible.
While in hospital, the Pope underwent over five hours of delicate surgery.
The Pope received the Anointing of the Sick from his personal aide, Stanislaw Dziwisz.
For several hours the Pope was suspended between life and death.
The injuries suffered from the second bullet were particularly grave, perforating the colon and small intestine multiple times.
Miraculously, the Pope recovered from the surgery.
The assassin behind the shooting was Mehmet Ali Ağca, a young Turkish gunman still in his twenties.
Ağca was a terrorist belonging to the 'Grey Wolves', a militant fascist group involved in drug trafficking.
A fugitive of a Turkish prison, Ağca was sentenced to death in absentia in his mother country for the murder of Abdi İpekçi, editor of the major Turkish newspaper Milliyet.
Two years earlier, İpekçi’s publication had published a letter in which Ağca stated his willingness to kill the Pope if he did not renounce his visit to Turkey.
Pope John Paul II was convinced that Our Lady of Fátima saved him from death.
In fact, May 13, 1917 marks the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima before shepherds.
A few days after the shooting, on May 16, the Pope recorded the Sunday prayer from the recovery room at the Gemelli Clinic.
The injured Pope’s fatigued voice was broadcasted on Sunday, May 17:
“Prego per il fratello che mi ha colpito, il quale ho sincerimento perdonato. Unito a Cristo, sacerdote e vittima, offro le mie sofferenze per la Chiesa e il mondo” (I pray for my brother… whom I have sincerely forgiven. United with Christ, priest and victim, I offer my sufferings for the Church and the world).
The next day, the Pontiff forgave his attacker and consecrated his sufferings to the Virgin Mary.
The long investigations of the Italian magistracy never uncovered the instigators of the attack.
However, when the Italian parliament’s Mitrokhin Commission analysed documents from Germany and Hungary, it concluded that the attack was conceived by USSR security agency KGB, in collaboration with East Germany’s intelligence service Stasi, and with the support of a Bulgarian terrorist group in Rome, which had in turn, enlisted the Grey Wolves.