St. John Paul II & Fatima: The Suffering Pope
One of the primary missions of the St. John Paul II Society is to open the hearts of the men and women of our time to the grace that enabled the Sainted Holy Father to unite his sufferings with those of Jesus Christ for the whole Church. For St. John Paul II, the channel of this grace of redemptive suffering was his lifelong devotion to Our Lady, especially as she appeared at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
The Suffering Pope
One May 13th, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope John Paul II was shot four times in Saint Peter’s Square. One of the bullets missed his heart by inches, but he survived. Considering not only his survival but also his sufferings as providential, the Pope said that “one hand pulled the trigger and another guided the bullet,” and credited Our Lady of Fatima with protecting him from death. He had the bullet that struck closest to his heart hammered into the crown that adorns the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, in which he explores all human suffering as a sharing in the sufferings of Christ, writing that “Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others.”
In his later years, St. John Paul II himself shared this “particle of the infinite treasure” in a very public way with the whole Church and the world through his debilitating struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, which lasted until his death on March 31 2005.