Hand of Terrorism

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softly murmured "Madonna, Madonna" in Polish. As the ambulance pulled up to the emergency entrance, an attendant jumped out and shouted to stunned doctors and nurses: "It's the Pope! It's the Pope!" John Paul was wheeled swiftly to the intensive care unit, given a blood transfusion and taken to the ninth-floor surgical clinic. As he was being moved into surgery, the Pope, fully conscious, posed to a male nurse the question that recurs with such dreadful frequency amid the mindless violence that grips the world: "Perchè l'hanno fatto [Why did they do it]?" John Paul was not hinting that he had seen more than one would-be assassin but simply wondering at the madness of them all.

The Pope had apparently been hit by two bullets, fired from only a few yards away. One shattered the two joints of the ring finger of his left hand, ricocheted and grazed his right arm. The other blasted into his abdomen, passing completely through his body and ripping up the Pope's intestines but narrowly missing his pancreas, abdominal aorta and spine. For 5 hr. 25 min., as rumors flew around the world and hospital patients in bathrobes mingled with Italian dignitaries and journalists to exchange shocked speculation, surgeons labored to take out several pieces of the Pope's intestine and perform a colostomy, which would remove wastes outside his body (see box). Giancarlo Castiglioni, chief of surgery at the hospital, flew back from Milan to join the surgical team halfway through the operation. At length Castiglioni emerged to brief reporters. He was still wearing his green gown; his eyes were red-rimmed with exhaustion. In a barely audible voice, he announced: "The prognosis is reserved [because of the danger of infection], but there is hope that the Pope will recover and stay with us." He turned aside detailed questions on the ground that they delved into "delicate matters."

Back in St. Peter's Square, pandemonium reigned. As the Pope collapsed, two women who had been standing near his car also fell, hit by bullets intended for John Paul. They were rushed to Holy Spirit Hospital. Both were Americans. Rose Hall, 21, originally from Shirley, Mass., and now married to a Protestant missionary posted in Würzburg, West Germany, had her left arm broken by a slug. Ann Odre, 58, a widow from Buffalo and a devout Catholic who had just realized her longtime dream of seeing the Pope, was hit by a bullet that lodged in her abdomen. At week's end she was in serious condition after a long operation to remove her spleen.

Some people in the crowd had noticed a slender, swarthy young man arguing with a group of pilgrims lining the low wooden barricades along the Popemobile's lane; he seemed to be telling them that they were blocking him from getting close to the Pontiff. As the Pope's vehicle drew near the spot, the man suddenly burst through the crowd. A photographer caught the picture that froze the following moment of horror (see opening pages): a gun poking out of the forest of outstretched hands waving at John Paul.

Immediately after the shots, witnesses who were only a few feet away told TIME, the young man edged out of the crowd; his face was tense, and his extended arm still held the gun. He almost backed into a first-aid trailer parked near the scene, then turned around and ran

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