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. Akabaka

    No one knows whether he will go to heaven or not except our Creator.Because only our Creator knows what kind of soul a particular individual has ( Good or Evil). Human being simply has no right except to give someone beatification who died.Its common sense and the whole beatification process is pure madness

    May 1, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  2. Adelina

    Jesus did miracles. Pope didn't.

    May 1, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • Iceman

      so everything that happens Jesus had to do it how about you getting lucky

      May 1, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  3. levend

    John Paul didn't do it, god did. He was a nice guy and all but come on he is just a man. This saint thing is becoming less and less valuable next they will give Obama one.

    May 1, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  4. Shawn Bioney

    I remember standing in the hospital waiting for news on my grand father surgery that saw an old woman crying by her son's bed in the next room, felt sorry for her and we said prayers together. Her son woke up out of a three months coma the next morning. Shouldn't I be called a Saint? John Paul became one?

    May 1, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  5. john leddy

    jimjones111 hit the nail on the head. the miraculous healing of amputees can't be faked. all the other works of faith healers are quackery.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  6. jimjones111

    Just wondering why god never answers the prayers of amputees?

    May 1, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  7. Phil

    Was this "miracle" scientifically verified??

    May 1, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • Obviously

      If it can be scientifically verified, then it cannot be a miracle.

      "Miracle" is the word religious people use to describe the normal occurance of favorable coincidence.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  8. John

    God is everything!

    May 1, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  9. jasonbig

    the doctors were like "fvck u ungrateful son of b!tch"

    April 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  10. Karin

    Though I find this claim to be embarrassingly ... Time and time again when I hear/read of these miracles I am puzzled as to why doctors and/or hospitals are irrelevant to the outcome of the individual. These doctors are our true saints. Next time one of you requires medical attention due to a broken leg, sudden blindness, heart attack... Pray instead of going to the hospital/doctor.

    Religion brings about so much foolishness. Why needs Saturday Night Live 😉

    April 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  11. courageinthefaceofpersecution

    Thanks Lauren!

    April 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  12. Sam Houston

    The Bible clearly shows that Jesus always directed prayers to his father. He also said his disciples should do the same. So where did the idea of praying to others (other than God himself) come from? Obviously not from Jesus Christ. Hmmm.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  13. Iceman

    The Pops are their Gods

    April 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  14. mrgmorgan56

    It is amazing to me that there are so many weak minded individuals that blieve in this crap.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • asz

      Thank you! They are all mindless sheeple.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • sylvias mother

      It amazes me that there are so many empty hearted people who feel that they are the center of the universe, thus denying a Higher Power. Some day you will need God and you know what? He will be there for you. He is waiting even for you! It will be a very humbling experience for you. I will say a prayer that the day may soon arrive.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  15. Rev. Rob

    Good night and hope someone was helped by what happened in this blog tonight! So many opinions. And only one truth. If the truth be known you all believe in Jesus, some choose to live it!

    April 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • asz

      GFY. Don't speak for me. Jesus is, and always will be a hoax.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  16. JR

    What about all of the people who got hit in the eye, prayed genuinely to god and didn't regain their eye sight? Are they proof that god DOESN'T exist?

    April 30, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  17. Seaburger

    I guess that when it comes to miracles, it's who you know that counts.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  18. courageinthefaceofpersecution

    Perhaps the woman in this story (assuming it is accurately reported) did not articulate the Catholic faith accurately which may mislead others. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not worship anyone but God nor do we believe that anyone but God is the source of grace, blessings, healings, etc. Just as Jesus performed his very first miracle at the request of his mother, the blessed virgin Mary, we might ask her or other saints whom we believe are already in heaven with God, to pray for us – just as you might ask a friend to pray for you in a time of need. We know that Jesus breathed on his disciples and gave them the authority to heal , and to even forgive sins IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. We Catholics know and believe that God is ONLY source of blessings. I am happy for ths womann and her son. Just goes to show that a childlike faith matters more to God than theological indignation.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Lauren

      You articulated that very well. How many times to Catholics have to explain that we don't pray to the saints and Mary to answer our prayers, but to add their prayers to ours??

      April 30, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • JR

      lol. There is no god, hun. Grow up.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • sylvias mother

      Hahaha, buddy, get a life. You obviously need one. I feel sorry for you dwelling in your present emptiness.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Janet

      Catholics do not worship to saints or nor do we worship Mary. However, we do pray for their intercessions in times of need. In this time of John Paul II The Great, we do need his intercession and help in our prayers. All of you nay sayers should take the time and learn something from the people who know; they are known as priests. Ask them about Jesus and the Saints because chances are, they know more than you do.

      May 1, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  19. Rev. Rob

    One Lord, one faith, one baptism. Jesus is God in the flesh. He set an example for me and you. I so choose to follow Jesus. There are believers and non- believers. You choose who you will serve. "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." I am praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he will open the eyes of all humanity to see the truth! Jesus is God!

    April 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Follower

      Praying to the God of Mohamed is always a good choice.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Rev. Rob
      You said: " I am praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he will open the eyes of all humanity to see the truth! Jesus is God!"

      Actually, there is no proof outside the New Testament, that Jesus even existed.


      April 30, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Zion

      Rev Bob,
      Jesus is the son of God, God is his and our Father. Jesus has his own body and The Father his own. Hence being created in HIS image. your statement implies that Christ went up to sit down on the right side of himself? Think about it? People mystify this Godhead concept. Ask God if this is not true and he will tell you himself. Christ and God are two distinct and separate individuals. Otherwise Christ being baptized would have to perform a ventriloquist like act and bear witness of himself saying, "Behold my beloved son". If you really are a Pastor or preacher you are misleading your followers. Ask heavenly father if what I said is not true. He can't lie 🙂

      May 1, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • myklds

      @David..Certainly, it's your brain doesn't exist. That something at the end of your neck is oozing but not working.

      May 1, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Obviously

      @myklds, I see you have no point to make, and are only capable of the abusive behavior so common to Christians. Actually, David is right. There is no contemporary record of Jesus, not by the faithful or the Jewish authorities or the Roman authorities or anybody, until decades after his death, and even those are from zealots pushing the new religion.

      Was there a Jesus? Maybe, but he sure did not make much of a splash in his lifetime. Nobody bothered to write about him, just some word-of-mouth by converts. And we all know how reliable that is. Because the Bible has NO contradictions, as this proves:


      May 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  20. Brian-PA

    The reason for the 50 year waiting period is so that people's emotions don't mask the true workings of the individual. In this case people are still emotional because of his death and are demanding sainthood. If it wasn't for this rule every pope would have been a saint. Pope Benedict out to be ashamed of rushing the process.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:10 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.