VATICAN CITY, Oct. 15, 2008 -- The late Pope John Paul waswounded by a knife-wielding priest in 1982, a year after he wasshot in St Peter's Square, but the injury was kept secret, hisformer top aide says in a documentary film.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz also discloses that when John Paulwas unable to pronounce words several days before his death in2005, he told his aides that if he could not speak any more thetime had come for him to die.
Dziwisz, who is now cardinal of Krakow, Poland, was JohnPaul's private secretary and closest aide for nearly 40 years,including all of his 27 years as pontiff.
The documentary, called "Testimony" and narrated by Britishactor Michael York, is a film version of a memoir published byDziwisz last year but with some additions.
It will make its official premiere at the Vatican onThursday night in the presence of Pope Benedict.
On May 12, 1982, the pope was visiting the shrine city ofFatima in Portugal to give thanks for surviving a firstassassination attempt a year earlier on May 13, 1981, when hewas shot in St Peter's Square by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca.
A crazed ultra-conservative Spanish priest, Juan FernandezKrohn, lunged at the pope with a dagger and was knocked to theground by police and arrested. The fact that the knife actuallyreached the pope and cut him was not known until now.
"I can now reveal that the Holy Father was wounded. When wegot back to the room (in the Fatima sanctuary complex) there wasblood," Dziwisz says in the documentary.
The pope carried on with the trip without disclosing hiswound.
Krohn was arrested and served several years in a Portugueseprison before being expelled from the country.
The documentary combines on-camera narration by York,interviews with Dziwisz, historical footage and re-enactedsegments of the pope's life played out by actors.
It includes video of his last public appearance from hiswindow overlooking St Peter's Square, when, debilitated byParkinson's disease and other maladies and overcome withemotion, he did not manage to pronounce any words.
Dziwisz says that when the pope, who had undergone atracheotomy to help him breathe, was wheeled back into hisapartments, he regained some strength and managed to whisper:"If I can't speak any more, it's time for me to go".
He died several days later on April 2, 2005, aged 84.
The 66-year-old York, who acted in Cabaret, Romeo and Julietand a dozens of other films and television productions, said hefelt "awe" at being part of a production involving John Paul.
"He had an extraordinary ability to communicate with people-- I think its called star quality and as a pope he had starquality in abundance," he told Reuters in an interview.
The documentary was shot in Rome, the Vatican and the citiesin Poland where the John Paul was born and worked as a priest,bishop and cardinal before his election to the papacy in 1978.
(Editing by Dominic Evans)