April 30th, 2011
04:10 PM ET

Chicago family credits Pope John Paul II with personal miracle

By Elizabeth Chmurak, CNN
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(CNN) - Christopher Lukasik was building shelves when a metal rod hit his eye, tearing about a third of his optic nerve fibers and leaving everybody from his doctors to his family wondering whether he would ever see again.

Lukasik's mother began to pray to Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified Sunday. The ceremony at Vatican City is the penultimate step towards the late pontiff's sainthood.

"All I could think about is to pray to Pope John Paul II. I just felt him with me and I knew he would be the one that would heal my son," said 67-year-old Joanna Lukasik of Chicago, who grew up near the late pontiff's hometown of Wadowice, Poland. "I was driving to the hospital and I was begging him and crying and begging him to save his vision and that's what happened."

Doctors say he was lucky. Lukasik's mother says it was a miracle.

Lukasik's story is one of thousands of testimonials being collected through a website set up by the Diocesan Tribunal of the Vicariate of Rome. It was created to help Pope John Paul II with his candidacy for Beatification and Canonization.

More than one million people are expected in Rome this weekend for the beatification ceremony, the biggest event at Vatican City since John Paul II's death six years ago. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful will gather in St. Peter's Square to witness the beatification. That will mean Pope John Paul II can be referred to as "blessed" and that one miracle has been confirmed in his or her name. Another miracle is required for canonization, the formal act of declaring someone a saint.

The current pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, waived the standard five-year waiting period to put John Paul II on the fast track to sainthood. This was an extraordinary response to the millions of mourners who gathered at St. Peter's Square for the pope's funeral crying out, "Santo subito!" (Sainthood now!)

Lukasik's mother credits divine intervention by John Paul II for healing her son, Christopher, after his accident in 2007.

"I know Pope John Paul II did it for him. And that's why always in difficult times I will always pray to him because he was the one that gave me a miracle," she said during an interview with CNN at her Chicago home.

She said for three days there seemed no hope for her son's right eye, which bled continuously.

"Even the specialists couldn't tell what happened. They cannot see it, if he lost vision or not," she said.

Ophthalmology specialist, Dr. Kirk Packo, was one of those who examined the younger Lukasik at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He said it was difficult to determine what would happen since Lukasik's eye was full of blood.

He explained that when the metal rod hit his right eye, it spun it around and tore about a third of his nerve fibers.

"Christopher was a hair close to being blind in that eye," Packo said. "He got really lucky."

But Lukasik's mother said it was a miracle, one made possible because of her strong cultural connection with the pontiff and fervent faith in his healing powers.

Joanna Lukasik grew up in John Paul's hometown of Wadowice, Poland, before immigrating to the United States in 1963.

In the 1960s, she said, she volunteered to serve meals at the Urszulanki convent in Rokiciny-Podhalanski. It was there, she says, she got to know Bishop Karol Wojtyła - who would later adopt the name John Paul II as pontiff.

"I remember Bishop Karol Wojtyła used to come to the convent and meet with his friend Bishop Bolesław Kominek," Lukasik said. "He was such a kind soul; you could feel goodness from him. But also I could sense that I was near someone that was truly close to God."

Christopher Lukasik also has own special connection to Pope John Paul II. In 2004, three years before he was nearly blinded, he met the pope during a youth trip.

"When I actually touched his hand,I did feel something I have never felt around any another human being, which in all honesty was probably my first actual spiritual experience," he said. "I could feel some sort of energy in his presence like electricity moving through my body."

Lukasik said that encounter made him realize Pope John Paul II was in the realm of a higher power. Like his mother, he believes this encounter could be the very blessing that helped him overcome his injury.

"If one person suffers trauma and another person suffers trauma, one heals better than the other. It might be a physical thing or it might be something spiritual," he said. "Going into it and actually believing in the church, I'm sure it helped me get my mind off the issues and helped my body heal more."

In the years since his eye injury, Lukasik said he thinks often about the profound impact the pope made on his life.

"I am very proud he is going to be beatified, and it couldn't have happen to a better person," he said. "Maybe people will gain some knowledge as to what he did when he was alive and all the good that he did for the world."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Illinois • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

soundoff (329 Responses)
  1. Name*walelign

    Give the credit to God.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  2. RIngram

    The Pope did things through God and with Gods blessings. He certainly did not have any more power than any other human without the intervention of the Almighty. In that case he and the Almighty were closer than most.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  3. Meaty Portion

    This article provided me with a good laugh. Thanks CNN.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  4. nik green

    So, what do we mere people of ordinary means have to do to get beatified? It's surely can't be molesting and raping young boys?

    April 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Abracadabra

    Polish people, like many others, are very superst.tious - black cats, ladders, the number 13, knocking on wood.

    Poland has some lucky charms too. It is widely believed that if you see a chimney-sweeper, you have to grab your button (hopefully you have one at that particular moment – on your wardrobe, bag, etc). According to the saying, only by grabbing it, you will be guaranteed to have good luck.

    Red slip-knots are also a popular superst.ition in Poland. As red is said, in many cultures, to undo spells, it is very common for Polish people to attach red slip-knots to a baby's stroller or clothes to protect the baby if someone looks at it with an evil eye.

    This papal magical healing is just another one.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  6. Hilo, HI

    I am Catholic. I am offended by this PR BS.
    Pope JP II gave SANCTUARY to Cardinal Law when he was DRIVEN OUT OF BOSTON -rewarded him with a higher post of honor in Rome -a slap in the face to ALL victims of abuse worldwide.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Gerard Michael

      I don't know what you are, but you are certainly not Catholic. Lesbian probably with an ugly partner!!

      April 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Intelligent Earthling

      Hey Gerard....nice 'CHRISTIAN' thing to say!!!

      April 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. kathy

    What I don't understand, is why so many people with so many nasty things to say about the Church and Pope John, is why you would even read this article about his beatification.
    If this article upsets you, DON'T waste your time reading it.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Why is it so hard to understand?

      The Catholic Church has attracted a lot of attention to itself in recent years.

      Don't you know that? LOL!!!!!

      April 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      kathy, the non- believers only reason for sucking up oxygen is to complain.

      That's what they get for being dry bones, wells without water, spiritually walking dead.


      April 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Estevan

      "That's what they get for being dry bones, wells without water, spiritually walking dead."

      Again with that crap? Those are the crazy rantings of a fundie preacher or that batty old woman on the street corner.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  8. Jason

    He was pervert protector!!

    April 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Let's see. Non-believers now have a choice for not loving and following Jesus' truth. They have their long standing # 1 reason of being LAZY. Now they've got # 2 reason of pedophile priest.

      Numbers 1 and 2 as you know, both have to go.


      April 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  9. hadabadday

    who do you think gave the doctors the ability to learn and the drive to do so...

    April 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Evolved DNA


      April 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Scott

      Science and education

      April 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Estevan

      Their professors in med school I'd say.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  10. MRobinson

    Believe or don't believe, everyone has a choice. But to criticize those with faith borders on pathetic. The same who criticize also believe the earth, the cosmos, and everything steming from them happened by chance. It was all one big bang and millions of factors lined up juuuuust right for everything we see to happen.Talk about ridiculous.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Happened by chance? LOL!!!!

      Please study some science before you comment on this subject.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Estevan

      "It was all one big bang and millions of factors lined up juuuuust right for everything we see to happen."

      I don't know a single atheist who thinks that. Nor do I know of a single atheist's group that thinks that.

      This is a common argument thrown out by the faithful. It demonstrates just how little they know about science. People who think like this believe whatever their preacher throws at them and whatever they read on fundie websites.

      As for MRobinson....your as-sertion is wrong. Just flat out wrong. Underlying your as-sertion is the presumption that somehow life, more specifically human life, was somehow predestined and that the conditions for life "magically" aligned themselves to make it happen. You have it backwards. Things did not happen in such a way as to lead to us being alive....we are alive as a result of things happening the way they did.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  11. JFK

    Pope John Paul is just another man, not to be held up as a diety.
    False belief is all over this article. The pope doesn't and can't
    heal people (or raise people from the dead for that matter). Only
    Jesus was able to produce genuine miracles because of who He

    April 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Abracadabra

      "Only Jesus was able to produce genuine miracles because of who He was."

      Nope... not him either.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  12. Name*ATHIEST

    So when someone dies, how come no one blames "god". This is the perfect sham. If you live "praise be to god!" If you die,." It was god's will and you've gone to a better place"....sheer genius. What a way to keep idiots digging into their pockets and under control.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  13. gupsphoo

    Yup, John Paul II was great! He kissed the Quran! LOL!!!!

    What a d-bag!

    April 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  14. hadabadday

    I seem to recall that in the Bible it does say that we should not put any one before GOD...so the catholics believe that this MAN has the power to do this on his own?? and they give no thanks to GOD ?? the catholics seem to have forotten who is the true healer is...and to whom they she be on their knees thanking ...

    April 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Dr UO

      My point exactly!! This is so wrong!! It is God who heals, through any Dr, pastor, anyone but He alone should get the glory!

      May 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  15. Wonder_Vegan

    It is not imaginary! The doctors helped and he has good health, THROUGH the grace of God!

    April 30, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Please explain why you would need doctors if you have your omnipotent "god". lol

      April 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      Maybe indeed 'through the grace of God' -but completely in spite of JP II, the Horrible Pedophile Enabler.
      My Church wants to maintain their 'Good 'Ole Boys' network no matter what, solidifying their position with this stunt? -Fine. But they have no one to blame but themselves for the dwindling numbers. For the first time in history, Muslims out-numbers Christians worldwide, and the RCC is squarely responsible.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Nancy

      through the grace of WHICH GOD? I have my money on Thor.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  16. Wonder_Vegan

    You are rude and need to be blocked.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • gupsphoo

      Actually it's you who needs to be blocked because you're trying to censor free speech.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Nancy

      Wonder-Vacant Seems you're a little irritated with some justifiable criticism. What does the catholic church do with what it rakes in on the collection plate?

      April 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  17. SSampson

    HEHEHE – LOLOL – Are you serious????

    I am SO tired of so many people believing in imaginary things...

    Glad the guy got better – It was his initial good health, good doctors and nothing else

    April 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • JackoB

      Why should it matter to you what other people believe? Or does voluntarily reading something about religion count as having it stuffed down your throat?

      April 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  18. Matt

    It's a miracle that my lunch today tasted so good. Don't credit the chef, God did it.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Wonder_Vegan

      Do you, like so many others, just stalk this website and hide behind your computer to criticize everything that you might believe in? I wonder what wonderful things you did with your life...

      April 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  19. cody

    No credit goes to the people who actually helped him at the hospital.

    April 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Pete

      That's just the reality of this organization. They steal the good works of others and claim it for themselves. Even Catholic charities is tax payer funded. We give them money to carry their catholic flag around. If they want to do stuff, do it with their own money.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  20. Pete

    Pure lunacy.

    April 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Nick

      Seriously?? People are soooo silly.

      April 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Nancy

      This Belief Blog continues as a waste of space better dedicated to astrology. Ted Turner must be trying to make amends for his transgressions here.

      April 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.