VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II on Wednesday marked the 17th anniversary of the assassination attempt in which he was seriously wounded by thanking all those who prayed for him.

The pontiff gave thanks from the same spot where he was shot in the abdomen on May 13, 1981 _ St. Peter's Square.

John Paul, who turns 78 on Monday, held his weekly general audience just as he did 17 years earlier when the assasination attempt took place. A Turk, Mehmet Ali Agca, is serving a life sentence in an Italian prison for the shooting.

The pope has credited the intercession of the Virgin Mary for his survival.