Today in 1983 John Paul II forgives his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Ağca

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On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was crossing St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City when an attempt was made on his life.

Mehmet Ali Ağca, who had escaped from a Turkish prison after receiving a life sentence for murdering a journalist, fired four shots with a 9-millimeter pistol. Two struck the pope in his lower intestine, one in his right arm and one in his left index finger. Two bystanders were also wounded.

Today in 1983, John Paul II visited his would-be assassin. They had a private conversation, and emerged as friends. The pope stayed in touch with Ağca’s family during the latter’s incarceration, and in 2000 requested that he be pardoned.

The request was granted. Ağca was released and deported to Turkey, where he was imprisoned for the life sentence he had fled decades prior.

He converted to Christianity while incarcerated, and was finally released in 2010.

In December 2014, he returned to Rome and laid two dozen white roses at the pope’s tomb.

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