On Wednesday, May 13, 1981, Mehmet Ali Agca pulled a gun and shot Pope John Paul II during a procession in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Italy. Though critically wounded, the Pope survived four gunshot wounds to his abdomen. Pope John Paul surprised many by visiting the would-be assassin in prison, taking time to pray with him and publicly forgiving him. John Paul II said, “What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.”
At the Pope’s request, Agca was pardoned from his sentence to life imprisonment in the Italian prison system, though he was immediately imprisoned in Turkey for the murder of a reporter years prior. Over the following years, a friendship formed between Agca and the Pope that lasted until the pontiff’s natural death on April 2, 2005.