Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, slept on the floor, and frequently denied himself food as acts of penitence, says a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading his sainthood case. The book Why He's a Saint also includes previously unpublished speeches and documents, including one signed memo from 1989 in which he said he would resign if he became incapacitated.
The book also reported for the first time that John Paul forgave his would-be assassin in the ambulance on the way to the hospital moments after he was shot on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. The book was written by Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the postulator, or main promoter, for John Paul's canonization. Oder defended John Paul's practice of self-mortification as "an instrument of Christian perfection."