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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET



Pope John Paul: Ready For Resignation, Whip

January 27, 2010 - 7:18 AM | by: Greg Burke

Pope John Paul II not only practiced severe bodily penance – including whipping himself with a belt and sleeping on the floor– but also wrote a letter in which he offered his resignation in the case he was incapacitated.

The revelations were made in an Italian book just published by the promoter of John Paul’s sainthood process, Msgr. Slawomir Oder.

The reports of the pope whipping himself first surfaced a couple of months ago in another Italian book, “Santo Subito,” by Andrea Tornielli. The Pope saw those penances, along with fasting and sleeping on the floor, as a way of uniting himself to the suffering of Christ.

While there had long been rumors of a resignation letter written during the pontificate, the new book brought it to light.

Oder’s book, “Why A Saint,” reproduces a 1989 letter in which the Pope offers his resignation to the College of Cardinals in case he was incapacitated. The Pope was only 68 at the time.

While there has been much speculation that John Paul will officially be declared “Blessed” by the Catholic Church in a massive ceremony in Rome this October, no date has been set for the beatification.

In December, Pope Benedict signed off on John Paul’s “heroic virtues,” officially making him Venerable, but a miracle worked through John Paul’s intercession has to be approved before he is declared Blessed.

A second miracle is necessary for full-fledged sainthood.