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. Alex B-P

    Looks like his eye isn't the only thing that got hit...

    May 3, 2011 at 5:10 am |
  2. Stephanie

    I think there is something to be said about so many people praising the great works of one man (Lonergan theory anyone?) It's sad that MIRACLES still happen every day and people sadly shoot them down with small, depressing theories.

    Regardless of who uses what bible and who prays to who you simply can not deny the amazing works this man did and so against the grain of the culture at the time.

    This video shows the many young people who don't pray TO the Blessed Pope John Paul II, but WITH him for peace and understanding, regardless of background, religion, status, etc.

    THAT'S what JP2 would want out of all this.


    May 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  3. mark

    I grew up catholic and walked away from it for the very reasons seen in this article. I mean, people praying to Pope John Paul?? Only Pope John Paul can heal them? There was a time when people believed in God. There was a time when people prayed to God. Now, they pray to men who have died. The mother in this article clearly stated "All I could think about is to pray to Pope John Paul II". This is the complete anti-thesis of what all the prophets taught. If Moses heard this he would be going bananas, so would Jesus. The catholic church has failed in more ways than one. They have erred in the teachings of worshiping one God, they have distorted scripture and allowed children to be harmed. shame on them and shame on those who follow them. Freakin sad.

    May 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  4. His Divine Holier Than Thoughness, Pope Larry

    Roadrunner cured my pimples ! Another miracle ! More proof of his sainthood ! I had a terrible outbreak of pimples when I was 13, and I shouted and screamed "Oh mighty Roadrunner, divine and holy one who is purer than us all, please cure my pimples ! I prayed to Roadrunner every day, and in a few years, they went away ! That's even better than when he cured my toothache, even though the dentist insists that he did most of the work. But we religious people know.

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

    May 2, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Roadrunner


      May 2, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • jeebus

      I too have personally excepted Roadrunner as my savior. He protects me from Satan(Wile E Coyote).

      May 2, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  5. Jeremy Good

    I can't believe some of the comments on this page! From Atheists to Jehovah Witness to even some Darwinist, everyone bashing and degrading the next. Even on Divine Mercy Sunday you people hold nothing sacred. I am a very proud catholic, however I won't spit in your face and say hurtful things to create a platform for the expression of my views. I will pray for you and for Cristian unity.

    May 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Jeremy the biggest division is between religions. you think yours is correct , others think that they are..How can you possibly expect any peace when the gods you have invented rule the minds if humans. With out any evidence how can you possibly claim you are on the right side.. you have none. If I was a looking at joining a religion what could you offer to satisfy me that yours is the one?

      May 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  6. Brian

    Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead maybe the Vatican will make him a saint.

    May 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  7. james w

    what horseshoot

    May 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  8. gary

    what a crock of BS ... money grabbers or bozo whackos believing in myths and ghosts... so sick

    May 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Real

      Really? or you are just jealous.

      May 2, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  9. Dwight Stegall

    When you get to Heaven you'll find out that these so called Saints aren't the big deal you think they are. The Church has been lying to you about a great many things. They hold no higher position and aren't treated any better than the rest of us. 🙂

    May 1, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • fda

      What makes your opinion so much greater? Maybe a few hundred people will read your comment. But millions are assembling to celebrate this dead guys life.
      Perhaps your comment is rooted in Jealousy?

      May 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • RDawkins

      Really? Tell us more Mr. Science.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  10. Sho

    Only God can save, not the pope.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • RDawkins

      If God can save, then why is it that he always needs more money?

      May 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  11. vet4life63

    Just wait. I think Obama will be a saint before this Pope. Cmon, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, while we were fighting 2 wars, that Bush got us into, but Obama is too reluctant to get us out of. Meanwhile Our boys die, and innocent civilians are attacked with drone aircraft and murdered everyday. I sure am glad Obama closed Gitmo. Wait? Whats that? He didn't? Well he promised he would. Figures, Give him Sainthood, He has already won a nobel peace prize, which was the miracle he needed for beatification. If he gets the Pulitzer, then he's in!

    May 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  12. Dwight Stegall

    Read "Life In The World Unseen" by Anthony Borgia. It will show you how Heaven really is. A Catholic Priest in Heaven talks through a Medium about how most of what you have been taught about religion here on Earth is nonsense. There are churches in Heaven but are mostly empty. People soon realize that they need to drop their religion and seek Spiritual Enlightenment to be able to progress in Heaven. They don't have to drop their religion but won't progress unless they do. There is no Hell. There is no Judgement Day. Remember, God is a loving God. There are 7 levels of Heaven. The lower levels are where people send themselves if they feel they need to be punished. No one forces them to go there. They can leave at any time by simply asking for help. There is a Truth Hall in Heaven where you go to learn what is a lie here and what isn't.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Dwight Stegall

      Where is Heaven? The first level is just beyond Earth's Atmosphere. The other 6 levels radiate outward from there. In heaven it is never dark and there are no storms. Everyday is a perpetual summer day. 🙂

      May 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Real

      If there is no hell where do you go and others who don't believe in God?

      May 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  13. John Davis

    While he reigned as Pope, he had no military and no weapons. Yet, he was the most powerful and influential man on the planet.

    May 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • DetDan

      Yeah, for hiding crimes. Very influential. Very sick and pathetic.
      Take your cross and shove it up your ass, Catholic sc-um.
      Die soon please, the rest of us need a world without criminal organizations like your fake "church".

      May 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Mike

      Say's who? Millions of brain washed poor people or child molesting preists?

      May 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  14. You Idiots

    @ Rickinmo, actually my religion is the only one that can claim love amongst themselves as well as not being involved in wars. Jehovah's Witnesses.

    May 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • shartoo

      Really, a cult that doesn't believe in the trinity? I don't need to earn my way to heaven thank you.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      Love amongst themselves? Please explain to the crowd what 'it means to 'disfellowship' somebody, and what impact it has on their families.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Mike

      Listen to your self. It is too funny. "My religion is better than your religion ... na na na na" ... sheesh. ALL religions are simply mythology dude. Imagine if you'd been born a thousands of years ago. You'd be all wrapped up in what ever religion was the rage then, and be just as convinced that one was the ONLY right one. Even if it were one where they threw virgins in volcanoes. You are simply a gullible sheep.

      May 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Estevan

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

      May 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  15. JaneG

    Great. This is the 21st century, and we are still stuck in the dark ages, with gods and angels and saints and royal weddings. I'm ashamed to be a member of such a backwards species.

    May 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Carl

      Jane, I am in total agreement. When you find a place where there are no religious morons, let me know. I am so disgusted by people today, that I have retreated to the only place where I feel safe, my books. I refuse to talk to those whose priorities are pleasing a God they think controls their lives from the time they wake instead of pleasing themselves by being kind to others so God can be proud they are here. I believe in God, not people or their idiocy.

      How stupid.

      May 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Joe

      Then by all means please leave us and ascend to the "species" worthy of your intellect.

      May 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • fda

      Haha Joe, I was angry when I read Jane's opinion but your comment is the best. Better than anything I would have written.

      Yeah Jane, do us all a favor and go talk to your Monkey relatives!!!! LMAO

      May 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • JaneG

      Fda, unfortunately, *you* are my monkey relatives, that's the problem.

      May 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • fda

      Oh so you don't believe in evolution... Im sorry to tell you like this Jane, but I am your faaaaather....

      May 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • ps

      Joe, that was awesome.

      May 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Joe/fda..you are products of evolution, and every species is still evolving and will forever. I expect that you have no real understanding of evolution which is unfortunate. At least you are still not dancing around Stonehenge these days looking for virgins to sacrifice.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  16. Timothy

    Why are people praying to the Pope instead of God? Seems backwards....

    May 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Larry

      If you pray to anyone other than God/Jesus, the devil is happy to provide a false experience. What no-one does is challenge it to test it to know for sure if it is real. All you have to do is ask "it" the question "Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?" If the answer is no, then it is a demon pretending.

      your servant

      follow me at @SpiritFreeShop to learn more about spiritual dynamics

      May 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Phil

      You are right, Timothy. Catholics seem to lose sight of the fact that John Paul, or any other Pope for that matter, is nothing more than a mortal man just like the rest of us. Through Jesus Christ, I, nor does anyone else, have need for anyone to act as an intersessor. I pray directly to the Lord, not some guy in a funny hat and a gaudy outfit. Saint hood...I don't think so !!

      May 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  17. UncleM

    What a crock.

    May 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Nan

      And blah, blah, blah!

      May 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  18. youvegottobekiddingme

    Where in the catholic bible does it say that there will still be miracles. In my bible it makes it very clear that there will be NO signs and wonders.The next miracle will be when God returns and saves us. The catholic church beaks so many rules of the bible. Another one says put no between you and your father who is in heaven How do they deal with that one?

    Everyone should grab their bible and get the heck away from the catholic church, or better yet any church for that matter.

    May 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Joe

      "...grab their bible..."
      Really? And where did the bible come from? It changed a lot in the first few hundred years. Luther wanted to kick Jame's Epistle and did change scripture to his liking.
      So who's interpretation do you buy? Your own? Welcome to a very big club. There are over 33,000 different protestant denominations. You can be number 33,001.

      May 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • alphaloving

      No....YOU have got to be kidding me. You didn't have to read the article. You definitely didn't have to comment and make a fool out of yourself.

      Joe- agree with you 100%

      May 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Me

      John 14:12 Catholic Bible and others "12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. "

      May 1, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  19. Dora

    With God: John Paul II prays with deep intensity, even in the midst crowds. " You must be strong, dear brothers and sisters. You must be strong with the strength that comes from faith. So as I depart, I ask you to accept once again your spiritual heritage...with faith, hope and love.... I ask that you never despair, never grow weary,never become discouraged; that the roots from which we grow are never severed;that you keep your faith despite your weaknesses, that you always seek strength in Him; that you never lose freedom of spirit for which Him has liberated man; that you never spurn that love...expressed by The Cross, without human life has no roots and no meaning. "I ask this of you"
    ---–Pope John Paul II-----

    May 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  20. PAUL

    catholic's are different than christians, in christian bibles saints are the followers ( sheep) or congregation, christian churches have ministers, catholics have priests, both catholics and christians have had abuses, all church believers pray to the creator, some in thier special need ask for miracles, many people asking for a miracle for someone else has the same effect with the heavenly father as does the one that needs, but he does appreciate other feeling compassion for the sick ,lame or wounded, it is good for people feeling strength in or through thier religion, i do not think we should judge another, or condemn someone else,

    May 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Stargaz

      Paul, you cannot go through life without making judgements and condemning what you view as wrong unless you want to act like an empty-headed idiot.
      If everyone thought as you do, all those child-molesters would keep getting away with their crimes, for no one would judge them or condemn their heinous crimes.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Joe

      "catholics", "christians"? I thought Catholics were Christians. What exactly makes a "christian"?
      Personally, I think one's answer to a simple question speaks volumes, one posed by Christ to his own disciples.
      "Who is it that you say I am?"

      May 1, 2011 at 6:41 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.