London, Jan 27 (ANI): Pope John Paul II regularly whipped himself with a trouser belt that he kept in his wardrobe, a new book has revealed.
It had long been rumoured that the Polish-born pontiff, who died five years ago, engaged in acts of penance and self-flagellation.
In the tome, 'Why he's a saint', Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Vatican "postulator" reviews John Paul's life and prepares a case for him being made a saint.
The book revealed that the Pope even signed a secret document saying he would resign from his office if he became incurably ill."As members of the Pope's close entourage heard with their own ears, Karol Wojtyla used to flagellate himself," the Telegraph quoted Oder as saying.
"In his wardrobe, in between all his robes, a special trouser belt hung on a coat hanger, which he used as a whip. He always took it with him when he went to Castel Gandolfo (the traditional summer residence of the popes outside Rome)," he added.
In November, a Polish nun claimed that when she stayed at Castel Gandolfo she often heard John Paul whipping himself.
Self-flagellation is used by some Catholics to remind themselves of the agonies endured by Christ on the cross, in particular members of the controversial organisation Opus Dei.
Oder also revealed in the new book that John Paul had decided that in the event of an "incurable sickness" he would voluntarily step down rather than stay in office until his death.
He declared in 1989 that in "the case of sickness that is deemed to be incurable, which prevents me from sufficiently fulfilling the functions of my apostolic ministry," he would renounce his positions as the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome. (ANI)