Paul Ⅱ in Rome
When in Rome the pope stopped to pray for the President's recovery and immediately sent him a personal message with his prayers and hopes.
These were worrisome times. It had not been so long before， during a Vatican meeting with an aide to the pope's secretary of state， that William Casey left with a final word of caution.
The CIA station in Rome had passed along a curious， and perhaps important， piece of information. When Lech Walesa had visited the pope， his host had been a man from the Italian Labour Confederation. The CIA had been told by Italian counter-intelligence officials that the host was working for Bulgaria. Since Bulgarians were under the control of the Soviets， this could either mean that Solidarity's plans were compromised or that Walesa was in danger.
On May 13， 1981， at 5 pm， the pontiff emerged for his weekly general audience in St， Peter's Square. After entering the open “popemobile”，the pontiff was riding around the colonnade. His aide Stanislaw Dziwisz was next to him.
Suddenly Dziwisz heard a deafening noise， and pigeons all over the square took flight. Then the pope slumped against him.
“I knew the Holy Father was hit”， Dziwisz says “but there was no sign of blood or a wound on him . Then I asked him. 'Where？' he replied， 'In my stomach.'”
The pope had been wounded in his stomach， right elbow and index finger of his left hand. He was transferred to an ambulance， which sped him to a hospital.
“Mary， my mother！ Mary， my mother！” the Holy Father kept repeating. His eyes were closed， and he was in great pain， At the Gemelli Clinic the pope was rushed first to a tenth-floor room reserved for a papal emergency and then to an operating room. He'd lost a great deal of blood， and because his condition was critical， last rites were administered.
The operation lasted five hours and 20 minutes. Twenty two inches of John Paul Ⅱ's intestine were removed. “Hope gradually returned during the operation.” Said Dziwisz. “It became clear that no vital organ had been hit and that he just might survive.”
Like the bullet that almost killed Ronald Reagan， this one had passed a few millimeters from the aorta. “If it had hit， death would have been instantaneous，” Dziwisz observed. “It did not touch any vital point. It was really miraculous.”
“One hand fired，” the pope said later， “and another hand guided the bullet.”
The triggerman was apprehended almost immediately. He was identified as Mehmet Ali Agca， a Turkish terrorist. Agca had publicly vowed to kill the pope during the potiff's 1979 visit to Turkey.
In recent years， ever mindful of a need for dialogue with the Jews， John Paul Ⅱmade the grand gesture of crossing the Tiber River to visit the main synagogue of Rome， something no pope had ever done before. As Roman Jews know， their community is older than the oldest Christian church. When Saints Peter and Paul came to Rome， the Torah was already being read and the Sabbath observed in the capital of the Roman Empire.
Onlookers recall that when he delivered his speech in the synagogue， John Paul Ⅱat times seemed close to breaking down. Once， as a boy， he'd gone to the synagogue in his village with his father to a choir sing “Ani Maamin” （I believe）， which had been chanted by condemned Jews in the death camps on their way to the gas chambers. As the voice of the choir swelled， the pope bent forward， his head bowed and his hand covering his mouth.
Despite john paul Ⅱ's declining health， the last years of his pontificate24 have seen a burst of activity. And though his hand is increasingly weary as he raises it to bless the faithful25， it points to a wider horizon.