The other day one of our young families came to Mass and commented on the little shrine we have set up in the Lower Church to the children of Fatima. I asked one of the children to look closely at the crown of the Blessed Virgin. There is a little something hanging from the inside center of the crown. I asked if he could see what it was.

“It looks like a bullet!”

“It IS a bullet!” I replied.

In the same Lower church just a few feet away from the shrine to the children of Fatima we have a beautiful statue of Pope St John Paul II. Below the image is a reliquary with a first class relic of the Pope.

This gave occasion to explain about the bullet and the crown. On May 13, 1981, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, John Paul II was shot three times by an assassin. One bullet entered his body, missing an important artery by a fraction of an inch. The doctors couldn’t figure it out because the bullet seemed to have veered away from its intended path at just that point thus saving the pope’s life. Pope John Paul II later witnessed that he believed the Blessed Mother herself intervened to save his life.

The doctors removed the bullet from his body and when he recovered, he went to Fatima and celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and placed the bullet that had nearly killed him in the crown of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal where it remains to this day. So, if you get a good sized image of Our Lady of Fatima you will see the bullet in the crown.

Incidentally, John Paul’s was not the only life saved. The assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, was wrestled to the ground by no less than a Catholic nun! He was arrested and imprisoned and Pope John Paul later visited him in jail and forgave him. He learned later that his accomplices waiting in a getaway van close by St Peter’s Square had orders to kill him once he got in the van.

This is the way of mercy. But God’s providence not only was the pope’s life saved, but his would be assassin’s life was saved and he eventually received God’s forgiveness.

So when you see the bullet in the crown remember God is not disengaged from this world. He is active redeeming and saving that which was lost, and Lady Mary is his great helper in the battle.