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On This Day… The Pope Was Shot

Written by: George Chittenden : 10 May 2019

It was on this day, 13th May back in 1981 when an assassin attempted to kill Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square. The Pope entered the square in Vatican City at around 5.17pm when Mehmet Ali Agca fired four shots from a 9mm Browning pistol. The pope was struck four times and was critically wounded. Two of the bullets lodged in his lower intestine while the other two hit his left index finger and right arm. Two innocent bystanders were also wounded in the shooting.

The gunman takes aim

The gunman takes aim

In the chaos that ensued the assassin managed to dispose of the gun by throwing it under a truck and attempted to flee the scene, but he was apprehended by a nun and the Chief of Vatican Security, Camillo Cibin. The Pope suffered severe blood loss but survived. Mehmet Ali Agca was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court. The Pope later forgave Ağca for the assassination attempt. He was pardoned at the Pope's request and was deported to Turkey in June 2000.

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