The late Pope’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, now archbishop of Krakow, is publishing his memoir, “My Life with Karol," which he wrote together with Italian author Gianfranco Svidercoschi. Brief excerpts were made available on Monday by the Italian publisher Rizzoli, according to Reuters.
In a chapter called "Those Two Bullets," Dziwisz recalls the shooting and the many glitches that arose in trying to get John Paul help in those critical moments.
"I tried to hold him up (after he was hit by the second bullet) but it was as if he was letting himself go sweetly," he writes.
"He had a grimace of pain but at the same time he was serene. I asked him 'where?' and he said: ‘In the stomach.’"
The cardinal tells how the Pope was taken to a part of the Vatican where aides believed there was an ambulance, but it was actually in another part and they had to wait for it to arrive.
On the way to Gemelli hospital, several kilometers north of the Vatican, the ambulance’s siren did not work. The driver had to navigate his way through Rome traffic by honking his horn non-stop.
"He was murmuring 'Why did they do it?' He uttered words of forgiveness for whoever shot him. I heard him pray, invoking 'Jesus, Mary my mother.'"
The Pope lost consciousness when the ambulance reached the hospital. In the confusion and shock, he was taken by mistake first to the 10th floor and then to the operating room on the ninth floor, where he surprised doctors by making it through surgery.
.- A new book, due to be published next year, provides greater detail of the 1981 assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II, including how he entrusted himself to Mary in the moments after he was shot and how doctors believed he would die in surgery.