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. dolores

    To LEE- Haven't met any and don't care to. When a person dies their soul is either in heaven or hell with all the others. ONLY God can judge the outcome. Didn't he say "Thou shall have no other Gods before me"? So why pray to saints, and statues?

    May 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  2. Dean

    Immediately I thought..."Chicago? Probably a Polish person involved", sure enough, she's from the same bloody hometown.

    Now that we know this babushka can get things done, can she turn her prayers towards Haiti?

    May 1, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  3. Susan

    Praying to a man is called idolatry. Sure it was a miracle, but it was God who made the miracle, not a man (even if it is a virtuous man such as Pope John Paul II). God heard this woman's prayers despite the fact that she directed them at a human being.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • God

      Yer all well come. She could pray pretty loud that one. Good for her cause my old hearing ain't so good. I been missing lotsa other prayers lately like from all those folks dying in my tornadoes and suenamis and all that. And from all those parents of kids dying of cancer and all. Guess I'm a bit deaf.

      May 1, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  4. brian

    What year is this? This is just silly caveman nonsense. I can't believe anybody seriously believes such utterly ridiculous, baseless nonsense. "Beatified"... "sainthood"... what is this, a Dungeons & Dragons game?

    I had a hosta plant that was dead, so I pulled it and threw it in the forest last fall. In April, it sprouted, and it's about to flower. I officially declare a miracle. I want to beatify myself. Oh wait, I do that every morning in the shower.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  5. hootie2011

    Wow, that's sad! She has access to the Creator of the universe, The GOD who created her son, and she wants to put her hopes in a mere human?

    May 1, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Susan

      Yes that's how i see it too. I was flabbergasted that a woman who calls herself fervently religious would be praying to a person instead of to God.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  6. RightturnClyde

    The entire world is a miracle. Life is a miracle. Every day is a miracle. Miracles all around you .. children, birds, bees, the sea, the desert .... it's ALL a miracle. It's so incredible .. so improbable .. and yet here we are and it all exists. What I cannot understand is how nobody can see it. You need a formal declaration and ceremonial clamor in Rome? Open your eyes .. it is all around you.

    May 1, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Susan

      I COMPLETELY agree!

      May 1, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  7. Freethinksman

    I had to go to the bathroom really, really badly. I mean BAD. But I had eaten a lot of cheese the day before. I started thinking about Donald Trump, and miraculously my bowels were vacated. Can we get The Donald on the short list?

    May 1, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  8. bubba

    isnt this the same pope that was responsible for the molesttation of thousands of little boys/??not my kind of hero...the governments need to step up and ban catholicism worldwide

    May 1, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  9. Bob

    The whole thing is extremely blasphemous and unbiblical.

    God told Israel in the Old Testament to give the death penalty to those who claimed to contact the dead, and yet the popes dare tell people to pray to the dead anyway. This is but one reason why 2 Th. 2 calls the popes "the man of sin."

    Eccl. 9:5-6 pointedly says that the dead know not anything, and other texts say the same. Thus, John Paul II can't hear anyone's prayers until the resurrection.

    Ps. 106:28 & 1 Cor. 10:20 leads to the conclusion that any "dead person" who answers prayers is really a demon in disguise.

    Rev. 14:12 says who are saints: Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Thus, one doesn't have to wait around until a pope says you're a saint before you're a saint.

    May 1, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Freethinksman

      I'd say the whole thing is just as preposterous as anything else Biblical.

      From The Book of Joe:
      "Behold, ye, and wasteth not thine time with such ludicrosities as befall those who take delight in the Bible: For there are many real problems in this world. Do not look to the heavens to confuse yourself even more, nor to give expedient answers to difficult questions. I say to you, "It is all B. S."! Live this life well. It's all ya got.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • cool

      Hi Mr bob,

      Eccl. 9:5-6 pointedly says that the dead know not anything, and other texts say the same. Thus,
      John Paul II can't hear anyone's prayers until the resurrection
      Jesus said Today you will be with me in Paradise.What is his status now.
      Is he resuurected or still waiting to hear God's call.Or he was an exception.
      You will see lots of person with diffrent status like mosses etc.Please make me understand.
      Thanks in advance.
      Bible vs history vs science .My id is cool.neutral@rediffmail.com


      May 1, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • cool


      Hi Mr bob,

      Eccl. 9:5-6 pointedly says that the dead know not anything, and other texts say the same. Thus,
      John Paul II can't hear anyone's prayers until the resurrection
      Jesus said Today you will be with me in Paradise.What is his status now.
      Is he resuurected or still waiting to hear God's call.Or he was an exception.
      You will see lots of person with diffrent status like mosses etc.Please make me understand.
      Thanks in advance.
      Bible vs history vs science .My id is cool.neutral@rediffmail.com


      May 1, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  10. wipeOut

    Atheists remains are extremely toxic that an ounce of their ashes would kill every living organism if improperly disposed. It must be flushed in the toilet, at least it can be useful as sewerage disinfectant.

    May 1, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  11. robert

    u people will surly burn in hell

    May 1, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  12. mpm1213


    May 1, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  13. JT

    What a pathetic display by the RCC trying to manipulate the press in the public sphere away from the top story of their r@pe of countless thousands of children. This evil empire is so arrogant and money hungry. They have so many deluded followers who just eat this stuff up.

    May 1, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  14. mpm1213

    I'm not knocking the healing, I am knocking the pope doing the healing. In my faith, Pentecoastal, God uses men and women to lay hands on the sick and healing takes place, but it is not MAN that does the healing, it is GOD,and in the name of JESUS. Doesn't matter if he was the pope. There is only one way to Heaven and that is through the BLOOD OF JESUS. and one way to HEALING. God uses man and doctors to perform the prayers and procedures that turn out to be MIRACLES. That is through the Grace of God.

    May 1, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • JT

      You are delusional in the most profound way. I feel sorry for you.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • John

      LOL! Your "god" is completely imaginary. Grow up, dude.

      May 1, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  15. wipeOut

    Praise the Pope..Burn all the Atheists and flush their useless remains in the toilet.

    May 1, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      At least you folks have consistent themes. You do seem to thoroughly enjoy a good burning, now and then. You also seem to enjoy ancestor worship, as do many groups. But that's the point isn't it ? It's "group forming", and that's a good thing. The Pink Monkeys do form groups. What I find fascinating about the worship of "saints'. iis that, (and I will have to presume here, 'cuz I won't have time to watch this one on TV), but I bet the men in red dresses and pointy hats and little beanies, (and NO WOMEN), will all be sitting in a row, like birds on a wire, probably outside the front doors of the big marble room. Even though they are outside in the sun, (and who wouldn't want to be on a nice day), they, to a MAN, would all say they BELIEVE that their "jesus" is "really, truely, body and blood, soul and divinity" on the inside, most of the time, of their big marble room. If that's true, why aren't they all inside, with him keeping him comany ? Seems either they are just "joshin" or they are sort of, well ....
      They have this sink in the sacristy, called the "scrarium" where they pour certain things, and the "first wash" of certain things that bypass the sewer system. Now if the consecrated Host is what they say, exactly when would the assortment of bonded atoms stop being what they believe it to be, and return to just being any old "clump of bonded" atoms ? I know they teach it's the "substance" under the "accidents of", but does that really have any meaning in the neurolinguistic programmimg language of the Pink Monkeys of 2011 ? But back to those red dresses. I stopped by the little shop near St. Peter's Square last year where they buy their red dresses, and bought a pair of the matching red socks. They are very cool, and I will try to remember to wear mine today too.

      May 1, 2011 at 5:53 am |
    • Finger Puppet

      And 80% of Pakistaniis think they should stone people for Adultery. You are ALL barbarians.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • wipeOut

      Their remains are extremely toxic that would kill every living organism if improperly disposed. It must be flushed in the toilet, at least it can be useful as sewerage disinfectant.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  16. spriggs

    i dont know english so i write in polish hi lubie twoj blogg niestety brak mi czasu i ciagle musze w pracy siedziec

    May 1, 2011 at 4:24 am |
  17. Jen

    How ungrateful. How about nominating Dr. Kirk Packo for sainthood!

    May 1, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  18. jimtanker

    What a bunch of cr@p. How about crediting the doctors and the "evil" science monster that actually saved his eyesight?

    May 1, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  19. Obviously

    Maybe it was the Pope who sent that metal rod into his eye in the first place. Or maybe it was God, and Popey let him off easy because God was too hard on him. Or maybe Thor rammed the metal into his eye but Pele let him keep his sight, while Quetzlcoatl sent all those tornados on the South.

    Those non-religious nutballs would say that it's all just the normal operation of physics, physiology and coincidence, but we all know how crazy that sounds !

    May 1, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  20. Jesus

    Give me a break. You want a miracle, try walking across water.

    May 1, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • Jesus

      Polar bears do that all the time and we don't make a big deal out of that...Oh, the water is also frozen.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:52 am |
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About this blog

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.