What Pope John Paul II Did with the Bullet that Nearly Killed Him

Stacy Conradt

It was a little over 30 years ago (May 13, 1981) that Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt that came dangerously close to claiming his life. He was struck with four bullets: two in the lower intestine, one in his left hand and one in his left arm. The wounds were so bad that he lost nearly three quarters of his blood and had to endure more than five hours of intestinal surgery.

In appreciation for making it through his brush with death, JPII donated one of the bullets to the lady he credited with his survival: Madonna of Fatima. He gifted the bullet and the bloodstained sash he had been wearing that day to the Shrine of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland during a visit in 1984.

Morbid tourists (I count myself among you) can find the exact spot of the shooting in St. Peter’s Square by looking for the marble tablet embedded in the ground that is engraved with JPII’s coat of arms and the date of the attack (pictured above).