Journalist Renzo Allegri
ROME, 14 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
Pope John Paul II survived an attempt on his life in 1981 and said a
"maternal hand" had saved him.
A quarter-century after the attack, journalist and writer Renzo Allegri
reconstructed the event in a book entitled "Il Papa di Fatima" (The
Fatima Pope), published in Italian by Mondadori.
In this interview with ZENIT, Allegri explains the connection between
John Paul II and Fatima. Part 2 of this interview will appear Monday.
Q: Why is John Paul II the Fatima Pope?
Allegri: First of all, because he himself recognized himself in that
"bishop dressed in white" that the three children, Lucia, Francisco and
Jacinta, "saw" during the July 17, 1917, apparition, when the Lady
confided in them the so-called secret of Fatima.
And also because, after becoming aware of that mysterious event, Pope
John Paul II lived determined to comply with the petitions and desires
contained in the Fatima messages.
He gave himself to this mission with all his being, offering himself as
victim for the salvation of the world, promoting a worldwide "crusade"
of prayer, especially among young people, and obtaining the historic
results that all know: the fall of Communism in Eastern countries, the
return of religious freedom in those countries and, perhaps, he also
contributed to avoid a tremendous nuclear conflict that, according to
historians, was visible on the horizon.
The relationship between Fatima and Pope John Paul II is, in my opinion,
very great and still remains to be discovered.
Q: In your book you state that, although Karol Wojtyla was still little
known, Padre Pio had already realized that he would become a very
important man. You know Padre Pio's life well; could you explain what
the saint of Pietrelcina was referring to?
Allegri: In the biographies of saints, it often happens that they have
strong and precise "channels" of communication, which escape the control
of rationality. This phenomenon was also verified between Padre Pio and
Karol Wojtyla, and there are two concrete episodes, related in
themselves, that demonstrate it.
In 1948, the young priest Karol Wojtyla, a student in Rome, had heard
talk of Padre Pio and wanted to meet him. He traveled to San Giovanni
Rotondo during Easter vacation and stayed a week.
It was never known what they spoke about. It seems that the saint of
Pietrelcina "saw" him dressed as Pope
and with blood stains on his white cassock. Of this prophecy, spread
rapidly after Wojtyla's election as Pope, there was never confirmation.
However, undeniable is the fact that that meeting marked Wojtyla
profoundly, arousing in him a great veneration for Padre Pio.
In 1962, Wojtyla returned to Italy as a bishop to participate in the
Second Vatican Council. In Rome, he received dramatic news that a
collaborator of his, Wanda Poltawska, a doctor and psychiatrist, had a
The doctors decided to attempt an operation, but the hope of saving her
was almost nothing. Wojtyla wrote a letter immediately to Padre Pio
asking for his prayers for Poltawska. Padre Pio, in those years, was
subjected to very serious accusations.
The Holy See decreed serious disciplinary restrictions against him,
prohibiting priests and religious from contacting him. Wojtyla was
certainly informed about this situation, but he paid no attention
because, for reasons unknown to us, he had "knowledge" of Padre Pio.
He sent the letter urgently by hand to Padre Pio through Angelo Battisti,
an employee of the Secretariat of State and collaborator of Padre Pio.
Battisti told me the story, handing me a copy of that letter, which
Padre Pio asked that he read to him and, at the end, after a moment of
silence, said: "Angiolino, one cannot say no to this."
Knowing that every word of Padre Pio had a mysterious and concrete
repercussion in reality, Battisti was very surprised by that phrase.
"Who might this Wojtyla be?" he wondered. He asked for information but
in the Vatican no one knew him, except the Poles for whom he was only a
Eleven days later, Battisti was asked to take another letter of Wojtyla
to Padre Pio.
And in this letter the Polish bishop thanked Padre Pio because Poltawska
"had been suddenly cured before entering the operating room." These are
the certain facts we know and that demonstrate that Padre Pio, as on
many other occasions, "intuited" God's plans on Wojtyla with
Q: How does the third part of the secret of Fatima enter in Pope John
Paul II's history?
Allegri: In a mysterious way, as always happens with events of the
Spirit. In theory, Pope John Paul II formed part of that "secret" since
he was born. The mission was entrusted to him before being born and the
history of his existence developed freely attuned to the designs of
But, in fact, perhaps, he became aware of his mission only after the
1981 attack. We do not have scientific proofs, explicit documents that
demonstrate the relationship between Wojtyla and the secret of Fatima
only the conviction of the Pope himself that, after the attack,
reflecting on what happened and reading Sister Lucia's text on the third
part of the famous secret, recognized himself in that account.
Sister Lucia wrote that, during the apparition of July 13, 1917, she,
Francisco and Jacinta had seen a bishop dressed in white who, half
trembling, with halting step, afflicted by pain and sorrow, crossed,
together with other bishops, priests, men and women religious, a great
city in ruins, praying for the souls of the dead that he found on the
way and [he] climbed up a steep mountain, on whose summit was a cross at
whose foot he was killed.
In the light of what happened, Wojtyla was convinced that the vision had
the characteristics of an authentic prophecy. And, with the passing of
time, his conviction was strengthened until it became a certainty.
It is licit to think that he had, from Sister Lucia, other information
and clarifications that we do not know. In the year 2000, nineteen years
after the attack, Pope John Paul II was so sure of his conviction that
he wished to make it known to the whole world.
That became a reality in Fatima, at the end of the ceremony of
beatification of Francisco and Jacinta, through an address of Cardinal
Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, before more than 1 million
pilgrims, and countless millions of faithful connected live on
Also Wojtyla's determination to make his conviction public is an
argument full of significance. ZE06051426
ROME, 15 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
There is a mysterious link between Pope John Paul II and Our Lady of
Fatima, says journalist Renzo Allegri.
And there is also a tie between the consecration of Russia to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary and the fall of Communist regimes, he contends.
Allegri, the author of "Il Papa di Fatima" (The Fatima Pope), published
by Mondadori, shared some of his insights with ZENIT. Part 1 of this
interview appeared Sunday.
On Saturday, the 25th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John
Paul II, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was processed through St.
Peter's Square, where the Polish Pope shed his blood.
Q: When did John Paul II understand that he was the Pope of Fatima, and
what did he do after he became aware of it?
Allegri: As I already mentioned, it is thought that Pope Karol Wojtyla
became aware of his own role in relation to the message of Fatima, after
the attack, reflecting on what happened, the coincidence between the
attack and the date of the apparitions of Fatima, and reading the text
of the secret.
Since his youth, his Marian devotion was always very great. In his
devotional practices, he gave priority to Polish Marian shrines, because
they were part of his religious tradition, and also because he could not
But he knew the history of Fatima well and the part of the secret
already revealed by Lucia, which speaks about Russia, Communism and the
persecution of believers.
The attack made him "center" his attention on his own role in regard to
Fatima. He was very impressed by the coincidence of the date of the
attack, May 13 at 5:17 p.m., with that of the start of the apparitions
on May 13, 1917.
He requested that a document be taken to him in hospital relative to the
famous secret and he read it, discovering, in the still-unpublished
part, details relative to his person that made quite an impression on
him, to the point that he speaks about it three times in his testament.
And he began immediately, with ardor, to make the spirit of Fatima a
reality. He reflected above all on the Virgin's request to consecrate
Russia to her Immaculate Heart. And, despite infinite difficulties, he
Q: You maintain in the book that there is a direct relationship between
the Virgin's request to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and
the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why?
Allegri: The connection is suggested by two events and two dates.
In 1917, the Virgin said that if things were not going well, she would
come to request the consecration of Russia. She made the petition in
1919, in an apparition to Lucia, specifying that the consecration of
Russia to her Immaculate Heart should be carried out "by the Church,"
that is, by the Pope in union with all the bishops.
But 14 years passed before the Virgin's petition arrived. Pius XII took
it into consideration personally and carried out the consecration twice,
naming Russia explicitly. But it was a private initiative and not made
in union with the bishops.
To involve the whole Church in this consecration, naming one country
specifically, Russia, implied enormous ideological and political
difficulties, which many bishops did not wish to address. In fact,
neither Pius XII, nor John XXIII nor even Paul VI was able to carry out
the consecration in the way the Lady requested it.
John Paul II addressed this obstacle. But he was forced to take recourse
to complicated and indirect stratagems to be able to name Russia. He
sent a letter to all the bishops of the Church, inviting them to join
him in the solemn consecration of the world, which would be carried out
on March 25, 1984.
He did not name Russia in the letter but quoted the consecration formula
that he would read, based on that pronounced by Pius XII in 1952, which
named Russia explicitly. On reading the letter and the formula of
consecration, the bishops would understand that it was the consecration
that corresponded to that requested by the Virgin to Sister Lucia and
that, therefore, specifically included Russia.
The ceremony was held. As though by magic, in just six years, there was
a drastic change in the world, with the end of the Cold War, the
collapse of several Communist regimes, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the
dissolution of the Soviet empire and the return to religious freedom in
Russia and in all the other countries of the former Communist empire.
All occurred without the shedding of blood; not only that, but there
were very curious and enigmatic details, or signs.
Observing the dates of the most important events of this great change,
one sees that they took place on the dates of Catholic solemnities. For
example, the Soviet Union ceased to exist when, at the end of a meeting,
the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia announced its
dissolution formally. This occurred on Dec. 8, 1991.
The 8th of December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception and it is
easy to link it to the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of
The definitive sign that indicated the end and defeat of Soviet
Communism occurred the day when the red flag was lowered which for many
decades was raised in the Kremlin, and in its place the national Russian
flag was raised. This occurred on December 25, 1991, one of the most
important religious feasts of the Catholic Church: the Nativity of
Coincidences? Of course, they probably are only coincidences, but they
might also be signs. ZE06051525