Pope John Paul II `regularly whipped himself`

Pope John Paul II used to whip himself regularly with a trouser belt that he had kept in his wardrobe.

Updated: Jan 27, 2010, 13:10 PM IST

London: Pope John Paul II used to whip
himself regularly with a trouser belt that he had kept in his
wardrobe and signed a secret document saying he would resign
if he became "incurably ill", a new book has revealed.

In the new book, `Why a Saint?` by Monsignor Slawomir
Oder, the Vatican "postulator" in-charge of the late Pontiff`s
canonisation process, has claimed the Polish-born Pope whipped
himself as an act of penance and self-flagellation as a bishop
in Krakow and continued to do so after he became the Pope.

"As members of the Pope`s close entourage heard with
their own ears, Karol Wojtyla used to flagellate himself. In
his wardrobe, among his vestments, there hung on a clothes
hanger a special belt for trousers which he used as a whip,"
the British media quoted Monsignor Oder as saying in the book.

He has also claimed that self-flagellation performed
by the Pope, who has been put on the fast track to sainthood
by the Vatican, was "an instrument of Christian perfection"
emulating the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

The fact that Pope John Paul, who died five years ago,
whipped himself in bodily penance was first claimed last year
by Sister Tobiana Sobodka, a Polish nun who worked in his
Vatican apartment and at the papal summer residence at Castel
Gandolfo in the hills south of Rome.

"Several times he would put himself through bodily
penance. We`re in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could
hear the sound of the blows when he flagellated himself," the
Sister had claimed.

Msgr Oder has also claimed in the book that John Paul,
had also decided that in the event of an "incurable sickness"
he would voluntarily step down as Pope rather than staying on
in office until his death.