'Girl Who Saved Pope's Life'

This is the story of a moment captured from a few angles. It is May 13, 1981, and Sarah Bartoli is 18 months old.

"I was little, I can't remember that moment," says Sarah today.

As CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports, she can't remember, but her mother can - like it was yesterday.

"There was a bet I made with my husband that I would be able to get this photo when I got to the Vatican," she says. "I was so far back, but the priest said, 'Don't lose hope, let's see what we can do.'"

What happened next is the stuff of headlines, if not legends. Just after John Paul II kissed Sarah, Mehmet Ali Agca took his shot. He would later say he waited to fire because the pope was holding a baby.

"Now I look at it, and I realize how lucky I was, because for a few seconds, even if they were bad seconds, they were seconds I shared with the pope," says Sarah.

The press dubbed her "the girl who saved the pope's life."

"Who knows – no, maybe, yes, I don't know," she says. "What has been attributed to me is too much, it's too big."

Sarah says she longs to be with the faithful in Saint Peter's Square Monday, but she has to stay close to home. The little girl who saved the pope's life is about to have one of her own.

"The baby will be born at any time now, most likely in the next two weeks," she says. "I will call her Michaela."

For the last few days, Sarah's head has been spinning trying to make sense of all the connections.

"This all touched me, this coincidence of the pope's death and in April, the birth of my baby," she says.

Sarah is in a rather uncommon position among the masses mourning the pope. Like them, her life was profoundly touched by John Paul, but in a way, his life was touched just as much by her.
  • Jaime Holguin

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