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. Matthew

    Two words,one name : David Hume

    May 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  2. JC

    True believers of any persuasion, from any place on earth are not to be trusted. People of faith will lie, cheat, steal, kill, and fill up volumes with their rationalizations and justifications in the name of protecting their 'faith.' It doesn't matter whether that belief is based on a diety, or on a political system; in point of fact, the ferver runs exactly the same. John Paul II was a good man, true; but he was also a bad man. Consider the reconciliations and benefits to international relations to which he contributed in no small part; but consider also the concealment of the pedophilia on rampant abuse which occurred on his watch. It cannot be realistically argued that he was unaware of the concealment of clerical misdeeds; the position of Pope is a political position. You cannot arrive there through ignorance; and you can rewrite history by papal decree. The position of Pope is one of responsibility; it was for John Paul II to acknowledge that the abuse had happened, that it was widespread, and had been going on for hundreds of years. Yet he did nothing. How does the saying go? "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." And they would make of this man a saint? Where is the miracle in doing nothing? Will he be the patron saint of cover-ups?

    May 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  3. Chris

    Make Crap Looks Like Jesus! Is That A Miracle?

    May 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Chris

    I Feel Holy Now...... God Just Blew Me:)

    May 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  5. Chris

    Religion Is The Biggest Scam In Human History And If Anybody Believe's This Garbage Is An Unintelligent,Simple Minded, Incompetent Saps!...:)

    May 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Estevan

      I agree that religion is the biggest scam.

      However, if you are going to insult theists and believers by calling them "unintelligent" and "simple minded" please make sure that at the very least your grammar and spelling is correct.

      To be fair....not all believers are "unintelligent" and "simple minded" just as not all atheists are intelligent or brilliant. Some of the smartest people I have known were deeply religious....just....misguided and brainwashed.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  6. G from canada

    To al those who are bad mouthing Catholics, please get your facts straight before commenting on Pope john paul.
    He never molested any children. Could he have done a better in punishing these molester YES, but we don't know all the facts.
    he was a holy man, if you where ever in his presence you would know.
    All you people believe in what you can see and touch.
    Catholic preists are not the only ones who molest children, they come in all forms, religions, creeds, positions of power. i don't see any of you condemning all the teachers who have molested children and have gotten a slap on the wrist, and these molesters do not get many years in jail.
    Before you spu out all this garbage and hate read the life story about this man and you will understand why so many people love him and believe he can intercede to GOD for us.
    We need all the help we can get from this man for all the hatred, intolerance and disrespect we have in our lives and hearts.

    May 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  7. Dora

    The Holy Bible is the word of God, The tools to write the Holy Word are blessed people ( saints). Jesus is a man, if you read The Holy Bible, the son of God. The Pope was a man that served God on earth, (not an idol) A Man that is blessed like the people on the Bible. Jesus, the Scriptures, and the Pope were designed to protect us from evil. The blessed people was designed by God Almighty to ha a specific purpose in a beautiful relationship with God a the people. Be a good servant and use your gifts to serve each oder. Do what is right, as a sacrifice to the Lord and Trust the Lord. John Paul II is a role model, a blessed man and now in heaven. We know the love God has for us, and we trust that love. A good Father for Us, and the Pope is a servant before God, he was a human being like us that survived the must difficult role on earth and turn it into triumph. He did this for those who he served. Now he is who began a good work in earth, His strength and wisdom its not finished, now he is at home before The Lord and he is there for us, in the same way, doing his job> before The Lord and ask him for strength and wisdom. Do all in the name of Jesus as the Pope John Paul II did.

    May 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Ze Pewp

      Ok dear. That's fine. Now run outside and play.

      May 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Estevan

      All hail Thor! Puny Yahweh and lame Jesus kneel before him!

      May 1, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • mark

      there is no passage in the bible where Jesus refers to himself as "the son of God". He calls himself the son of man, which is a very different idea. you need to do a closer reading of the text. Again there is no passage, not even an allusion, to Jesus or any of his followers labeling him the son of God.

      May 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  8. gogogopher

    how 'bout the time the holy man prayed to God and Jesus sent 2 bears outta da woods to kill 42 CHILDREN?
    nobody wants to bring up God the mauler of children....with female bears of all things....
    all this for making fun of a bald headed preacher.

    Mercy? Justice? Over-kill? Why didn't God cause the kids to fall asleep? 'cause he had bears close by.
    2nd kings, baby.....

    May 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Estevan

      I wonder if god will send bears to maul the kids who keep playing their music too loud next door?

      May 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  9. Adam

    If God is the only one that can heal lets just shut down all hospitals and medical schools and see what happens......Youll be PRAYING for other normal human beings to help you!

    May 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  10. Adam

    Absolutly ridiculous! As a healthcare provider I am tired of god and saints geting credit for all the things we do to help our patients overcome diseas and injury.....long hours.....high stress....years of education...and then god gets credit he meets the pope 2 years before his injury and then he gives him credit...how bout thanking your doctor! does anyone else see this as ridiculous??

    May 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  11. Dman

    I am sorry, but how does this qualify as news?

    May 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. We do not need anyone to intercede for us. The Pope was a man. He is dead. He cannot hear anyone. Do Catholics read the Bible? Because it says it in the Bible that when we pray, to pray to the Father(God), not to dead people or idols(statues,images). And for man to say that he is blesssed or a saint? We are all blessed who believe and serve God. We are all his saints. I pray that God opens the eyes of his people. That they may realize the errors of their ways.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Todd

      Ok Lisa. Ever murder your kids when they talk back to you? Hope you were a virgin when you were married or you would be killed. Don't wear your hair too short or too long or you die. Don't touch a pig, eat shellfish, or do any work on the sabbath or you get killed.

      You ever read that bible thingy from cover to cover? If not, then STFU about the bible until you do.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Antarius

      Do as your Bible says and silence yourself! Men (i.e. your betters) are speaking.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Mark from Monterey

    Wow. I am in shock at the level of anti-Catholic bigotry here. I think what is most alarming is how open and unveiled it is.

    I, for one, find these stories of healing somewhat suspect. In fact there are now questions if the French nun, the only miracle accredited to JPII by the Vatican, has really been healed.

    But, almost none of the comments on here are about this story. They are simply hostile attacks on a religion of 1 billion people. Imagine if the world "Catholic" was replaced with "Muslim" or "Pope" with "Rabbi".

    This is pure hate speech.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Todd

      Yo Mark, know any other religion besides catholicism where the religious hierarchy molests children and covers up for each other? This isn't just a few bad priests. Between the molesters and the enablers, you are talking about the 80-90% of the clergy. JP is not the first, nor the last pope to be directly involved in moving bad priests between parishes.

      THe Vatican should be nuked... twice.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Sonia

      Todd, so you're going to judge all Catholics based on the sins of others? There are molesters and other bad people in other Christian denominations as well. Why do you feel the need to point your finger at just Catholics?

      May 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Persephone

      It's not hate speech. It's reality speech. And if you want to replace Catholic with Hindu, Jew, Protestant...go right ahead.

      How can anyone in their right mind think that these "miracles" mean anything? For every "miracle" we can find 5,000 suffering people who had nothing done for them. Why? Because gods aren't real.

      A former ardent Catholic who came to her senses

      May 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  14. Karina

    "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. If this women ever opened a bible she would know THAT GOD IS THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN HEAL!!!!! He is a sinful human being just like everyone else. CATHOLICS... tell me where in the bible does it say it is okay to worship and praise a human being???? If you were to ever open a bible you would know that the bible clearly states to not have any idols and to worship only him. I mean its one of the 10 commandments. You never know when your time will be up in this world. Open the bible and read the truth for yourself not what another human being has taught you about christ.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Denise

      Catholics do not worship any human being, we only worship God. We recognize Saints as good and devout people and try to follow their example. We ask them to intercede to God for us. We know that only God can heal.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • archmuse

      Try thinking for yourself sometime and actually learn about something before you condemn it. Catholics don't worship people. All you Catholic haters just love to listen to each other and spew uninformed hatred about Catholics. You seem to enjoy wallowing in your hatred. How very Christian of you.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Sonia

      As a Catholic, we do not worship any saints. We pray to saints to help us communicate with God. I am also aware that the former Pope was a sinful human being. So is everyone else. He did enough good in his life, however, to warrant sainthood.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Denise

    I have freedom of speech like all of you, I also have freedom for my beliefs.

    I believe in God. I am also a Catholic and believe in the Catholic Church. When we pray to the Saints, we are not praying for healing from that person, we are asking them to intercede to God for us for healing. I believe Pope John Paul II was a very holy, learned and wonderful person. I have prayed to him for help and support in times of illness and feel he has been there for me.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • archmuse

      Let me start by saying I'm not attacking you Denise. I was raised Catholic as well but something has occurred to me that no one can really give me a good answer for. Why do we need anyone to intercede on our behalf with God? Will he not pay attention if it comes from someone lowly like us? Is it a numbers game where if we don't have enough people praying for us God won't get involved? That doesn't bode well for someone living among non praying sinners who turns to God since they might not have anyone to pray for them. I can't believe God would tally up how many people or how many religious celebrities are praying on our behalf and say, "I'd like to help you out but I just can't do it for so few prayers. Gosh 10 more people would have put you over the top or one saint. Sorry." If you're going to pray, pray to him directly. Just a thought.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Denise

      You have some good and valid points. I do pray directly to God, but also feel (hope) that praying through some of the saints can help my plea. No, it's of course not necessary at all, but I figure it can't hurt and I feel it actually helps. Never hurts to have more than one person praying for you.
      I feel especially close to St. Jude, but also pray to Mary and Pope John Paul II even though he isn't canonized. There have been times I have been in the Emergency Room with serious cardiac issues, I feel comforted by praying to them.
      I do have to stop myself sometimes from playing the "numbers game", you are so right about that. Sometimes, though, things are so overwhelming for me that I pray to a number of people for help in any way.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  16. You Idiots

    Fasttracked to sainthood?! Yeah you better do that fast before he is charged with all the boy touching and abuse he is guilty of. Millions of people crying out Sainthood now....how ridiculus, they think this is going to help solve their issues with the Vatican? And how exactly was this counted? These people don't even want you to read the bible because they are scared that you will find out God's actual purpose for the earth. The pope is a hypocrite, the bible says no false idols and yet the pope and catholics all over the world have cross' everywhere! "Get out of her"...Babylon the Great is false religion and we are in the last hour.....please search out God for yourselves before it is too late.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • rickinmo

      You're an idiot too. Your using one belief to discredit another belief. Neither one holds water. It's like attempting to wash off mud using mud. Get real! Your thinking is exactly what people are talking about when they say that religion has done more damage, started more wars and killed more people than anything else in history. Religion is a dangerous thing. Just because you believe something doesn't make it true. You're just as delusional as the delusional people you're criticizing.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  17. ben

    What a joke!!!! Now that they want to make this guy a 'saint' they'll desperately search for any utterly deceitful or nonsensical pieces of 'evidence' in order to claim 'miracles!'. LOL! Why not just have some nut job with a piece of burnt toast claim that if you look at the toast is a certain light, it has the popes face on it!

    Wow religious people are idiotic lying imbeciles.

    May 1, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  18. Nigra Race Pimp

    A miracle would've been had she not taken him to the hospital, but straight to church and then his eye was healed, while kneeling right there, at the altar. A miracle is how those poor specialists (who admit that this guy's healing was random chance, i.e. luck) got no credit for anything they did to save this man's eye, yet a dead Pole, with mitre hair, was able to do all the work? How can we claim to be so advanced from our paleolithic ancestors and still be so horribly incredulous?

    May 1, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  19. Bob from Pittsburgh

    What about the thousands of children abused by this monsters, wht did he do about it?

    He protected the monsters.. he is a monster himself..

    Hope you rot in hell !!

    May 1, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Todd

      Did it ever occur to you that John Paul is on the path to sainthood BECAUSE he helped abuse children? Mother Theresa personally kept thousands of kids in poverty, and now she is a saint.

      Makes sense.

      May 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Sonia

      hehe. It's funny how you feel the former Pope is a bad person, but then you condemn him to hell. Who ever said you were God?

      May 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  20. Cthulhu

    What about all the people who prayed for miracles and didn't get them? How fair is that?

    May 1, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Pastafaria

      Exactly. If the Pope is a saint for "healing" a few people, then by the same logic he is a sadistic serial killer for doing nothing while millions of people suffered and died from these same afflictions.

      May 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Jesus

      I prayed that all churches everywhere would be converted into Burger Kings, Taco Bells, or McDs. It's a smooth transition, moving from mental garbage to eating garbage

      May 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • rickinmo

      All this insane attention given to the former pope, miracles, a demand for sainthood, millions of faithful at the vatican, etc., etc., etc. makes me physically ill, ie. turns my stomach. MIRACLE?

      When will the insanity stop and people realize all this BS is just that BS!

      May 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
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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.