Gun that shot JP II on display in southern Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
A pistol used to shoot Pope John Paul II during an unsuccessful assasination attempt in 1981 is on loan to the late pontiff's hometown of Wadowice, southern Poland.
The pistol that was used to shoot Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981. Photo: PAP/Sylwia Wysocka
The Browning HP 9mm pistol has been lent by the Criminology Museum in Rome, and the infamous weapon will be on display for three years at Wadowice's Museum of the Family Home of John Paul II.
The loan comes less than a month before the official reopening of the museum on 9 April, which ties in with the canonisation of the late pontiff on 27 April.
Pope John Paul II was shot by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca on 13 May 1981 as the pontiff moved through a crowd of the faithful outside St. Peter's.
The pope was hit by four bullets, and Agca was immediately arrested.
Miraculously, the pontiff survived, and he later met his would be assassin in person, both privately and publicly forgiving him.
Father Dariusz Ras, director of the Wadowice museum, has told the Polish Press Agency that visitors should regard the gun as "an instrument of martyrdom and suffering rather than a murder weapon."
Allegations that the assassination attempt had been organised by the secret police in what was then communist Bulgaria are among recurring theories behind the shooting.
Last year, Agca published a book entitled I Was Promised Paradise: My Life and the Truth Behind the Attack Against the Pope, in which he claimed that he was ordered to carry out the attack by late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
Agca said that after escaping from a Turkish prison, where he had been serving time for assassinating a journalist, he was indoctrinated in Iran and hired to assassinate the pope.
The Vatican was swift to dismiss the theory.
“There is no evidence that the attack on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981 was backed by Ayatollah Khomeini,” Vatican press spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi told Polish Radio. (nh/mk)