30 years ago today

John Paul believed that the Blessed Mother, on her feast day as Our Lady of Fatima, saved his life.

30 years ago today.

The moment of the shot was 1717 Rome time, 1317 EDT.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jbalza007 says:

    I turned 3 years old that day. Too young to remember of course…

  2. Geoffrey says:

    I was only a baby when this happened. I can imagine what it must have been like as a Catholic in that moment, knowing that the Vicar of Christ on Earth had been shot and could die. Thank God that he would go on to reign for many more years!

    May our Lady of Fatima and the “Pope of Fatima” pray for us all!

  3. Navarricano says:

    I remember that day vividly. I was a junior in high school and I had only been Catholic for a year, having converted from the Baptist church the year before because some Catholic friends had given me a book telling the story of Fatima and had taught me how to pray the rosary! I remember hurrying over to our little parish church and praying for him, and how the next few days just seemed to blur. And now he’s our newest Blessed … amazing history to have lived with!

    Blessed Pope John Paul and Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  4. cyejbv says:

    I was a kid and not Catholic and though I remember it, most striking to me was the events after.
    Seeing pictures of Papa JP2 visiting his would-be assassin in prison – the image of him sitting on that plastic chair leaning toward him and forgiving him. I didn’t understand it. What’s he doin’??!

    For someone who is not Catholic, that may be more understandable; I couldn’t understand why he would go SEE the guy, much less forgive him. Novel concepts for a little pseudo-christian girl.

    A letter, maybe.
    A speech, ok.
    But to go see him?

    I remember being astounded!
    I didn’t know about charity or forgiveness and I certainly had no idea that they work in tandem, as BPJPII demonstrated and lived so well, always.

    BLESSED PJPII pray for us .

  5. pelerin says:

    It is good to know that there are so many young people reading Fr Z. It is only brought home when readers mention they were but children or they were not even born when certain events are mentioned and I realise that I remember them all too well. How about another Z- poll to find out the ages of readers here?

    Yes I remember the shock I felt when I learnt of the attempted assassination attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II. I know where I was and what I was doing. It was another ‘Kennedy moment.’

  6. MissOH says:

    I was Baptist so this did not strike me in the same way, but I remember being in the car and hearing about it on the radio. My high school had special programs for students during May and seniors had to do an off site internship of some kind so I was not in school. I was aware that the previous pope had died after a month so that it had to be traumatic in many ways. It was not until after college when I was beginning my swim across the Tiber that I realized how incredible all of the events were especially that then Pope John Paul II so immediately forgave his assailant and later met with him.

  7. pberginjr says:

    I wasn’t born yet (nor did my parents even know each other), but you can bet I learned about it when I was old enough (probably about 10, maybe earlier), my mom being about the biggest JP2 fan in the world (they’re both Poles)

  8. I was just a kid in parochial school. I don’t think they told us about it at school, because I seem to remember only finding out when I got home from the bus. But I remember thinking about it out on the playground the next day.

    In a weird way, I think that may be part of what made me stick with the Church, despite how common it was to fall away. People hated the Pope for no good reason, just like kids at school hated us unpopular kids for no reason. But clearly Jesus and Mary and the Church Triumphant were on the side of the persecuted, and nobody could take them away. So when I started getting rebellious, even in my most feminist or secular conservative or Libertarian phases, I never rebelled against the Church or saw it as the oppressor, or tried to remake it in my mind to something totally different. The Church was our eternal friend and ally and home. And when I was in despair and needed help, Mary has helped me not to lose sight of her Son.

  9. benedetta says:

    I was in junior high school and this news was traumatizing. I did not grasp all that was involved until much later.

  10. I concurr with pelerin. Fr. Z, let’s figure out the average age of WDTPRS readers!

  11. Gail F says:

    I was either in 8th or 9th grade, a non-practicing Catholic, and it did not surprise me. I guess at that age I thought it was just the kind of thing that happened sometimes. But like cyejvb, I remember his visiting his would-be assassin in prison very clearly. It made a huge impression on me. It didn’t seem like a publicity stunt or anything, I understood very clearly that it was an example of real forgiveness and even in the middle of the high school whirl it struck me deeply. It was just one of the many things that drew me back eventually — I didn’t “become” Catholic again, I realized that deep down I already WAS a Catholic. I have noticed that my own children are also struck by the visit, though it is just something they hear like any other historical happening.

  12. Gail F says:

    I’m 47.

  13. transparent2one says:

    I was 11 and not Catholic but this was the day he became my pope. This was the day that the Catholic church entered my intellect.

  14. Kate says:

    In Zakopane, Poland, there is a beautiful wooden church in honor of Our Lady of Fatima in thanksgiving for her intercession in saving the life of Pope John Paul II. It is a beautiful church.


  15. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    It is one of my first days which I remember almost completely.

    I was 5 years old. At the time I was staying for a few days with my aunt in the village where she lived. Nobody trusted the official news on Czechoslovak communist radio (and not so many people in the village had TV), which wasn’t particularly reliable as far as the Church is concerned…or, better said, it was particularly unreliable. It was obvious that something happened, but many people waited for Slovak news on Vatican Radio. After the news, the village began to pray…ok, maybe not everybody, but the vast majority of people. I remember neighbours asking each other no to forget to pray for the Holy Father.

    For me, before that day, the Holy Father was the man with whom we prayed rosary (it was broadcast on Vatican Radio once a week…or at least once a week…now I realized that it was blessed John Paul II who had taught me Ave Maria in Latin…but not Pater noster, it is said only 5 times in a rosary, while Ave Maria 50 times :-) )
    On that day I understood that the Holy Father was a man whom we loved, for whom we prayed and whom bad people hated.
    Today I of course see better who the Holy Father is, but these three points remain.

  16. thereseb says:

    I remember vividly. I was at university, and my very trad anglican flatmate came in in floods of tears to tell me – which was my first insight into the power that the Blessed John Paul II had over non-catholics of good will. I lost touch with her – I do hope she has swum the Tiber since.

  17. Tom Piatak says:

    I remember it well. An announcement was made over the PA at my Jesuit high school, and we all prayed for the Pope. I remember it being early in the afternoon. The atmosphere was quite somber and quite different from October 1978, when an excited announcement was made over the PA late in the afternoon by a priest (who I later learned was half-Polish) that Karol Wojtyla had just been elected Pope.

  18. Dr. Eric says:

    I was 5, I’m 35 now. I don’t remember it happening, perhaps because in my home, Catholicism wasn’t very strong and I hadn’t gone to Catechism yet.

    Everytime I see the footage, even now, it still brings a tear to my eyes.

    Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!

  19. irishgirl says:

    I was in my late 20s (27 in 1981), and I had taken the day off from work to go on a bus trip to the Blue Army Shrine in Washington, NJ for the Fatima anniversary commemoration. We got the news while at lunch in East Stroudsberg, PA-the priest who was our group chaplain was called out of the restaurant by the manager and given the news. Father came back, sat down between me and the woman who led the group, and said in a low, flat tone of voice, ‘The Pope’s been shot’. She and I silently stared at each other, then I said in a strangled tone, ‘Oh, my God!’ She didn’t want anyone else to say anything to anybody else in the group until Father did, but I went to the ladies’ room [I lost my appetite after that] and quietly passed the word to some of the members of the group I found there.
    When we got back on our two buses, a wave of shock and horror spread through them. As we continued our journey, I stood near the back of the bus and began the Rosary for the wounded Holy Father, adding after the Fatima decade prayer, ‘Mary. Mother of the Church, pray for the Pope!’ and ‘Mary, Queen of Poland, pray for the Pope!’ I ended up saying so many Rosaries that day!
    At the Shrine, there was an hastily-arranged outdoor Mass out in a parking lot. A Bishop said it, and quoted a radio report he heard prior to coming out that the Pope was in ‘serious condition’. An audible moan came from the crowd, and a woman near me became hysterical, saying that she dreamed that something like this would happen. I simply put my arm around her and murmured in her ear, ‘Our Lady will take care of him’.
    And sure enough, Our Lady DID take care of our Holy Father that day, and for rest of his earthly life! He went to Fatima the following year to give thanks to her for saving him!

  20. irishgirl says:

    PS-I bought a copy of that very photograph when I went to Rome later that year, but I lost it when my purse was stolen in 1984 (like an idiot, I carried it with me in whatever purse I used at the time).
    And I always cringe if I see the video footage of the actual shooting. The first time I saw it was in 2005, right after the Holy Father’s death.

  21. Martial Artist says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

    Please forgive me for saying so, but (unless I have made an error) I believe that your translation of the time from Rome time (GMT+1:00) to Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-5:00) for this date is off by at least one hour, if not two. The time difference stated in the post is 4 hours. Rather, whould not the correct May time difference between those regions be either:

    • 6 hours (if Italy observes an equivalent to our Daylight Saving time), or

    • 5 hours (if it remains on local standard time while we are on Daylight Saving time)?

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  22. wecahill says:

    The moment of the shot was 1717 Rome time, 1317 EDT.

    5:17 – May 1917 ; 13:17 – 13th day of the month (May) 1917… hmmm……
    I’m 56. I had just been admitted to the bar and was looking for a job, but took time off to visit my sister in MA. I was in the car and heard it on the radio. I had to pull over to say a prayer for the Pope. However, the fact that he (and President Reagan) both survived assassination attempts indicated to me that we had turned a corner after the depressing ’60s and ’70s.

  23. green fiddler says:

    Through the years, what has remained indelible in my memory is the image of Holy Father JPII seated with the shooter in prison, forgiving him.

    Our Blessed Mother was always holding him and praying for him. What a grace-filled day.

    Deo gratias!

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