Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who will return to Congress on Thursday one year after suffering a major stroke, said that he saw angels while recovering in the hospital last year.
In an interview with the Daily Herald published Wednesday, Kirk said that before he woke up from a medically induced coma, three angels appeared at the foot of his bed and asked if he wanted to come with them.
"No," Kirk said. "I'll hold off."
Kirk told the paper that he wasn't sure if the vision had been a dream or a near-death experience, but acknowledged that his stroke and subsequent recovery had impacted his faith.
"I would say that I definitely became much more religious," Kirk said. "They say there are no atheists in foxholes, and this stroke put me into a very deep foxhole. Yet, that feeling of faith sustained me, so I have no feelings of anger or regret."
The Republican senator is scheduled to arrive at the Capitol Thursday morning, in time for the opening of the 113th Congress. He will be greeted by Vice President Joe Biden, along with Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate colleagues. Kirk intends to walk up the steps of the Capitol without assistance.
In the Daily Herald interview, the 53-year-old Kirk said that he visualized the walk up the Capitol steps to help motivate him during physical therapy.
"I kept imagining going back to work and the irreducible physical amount of effort I had to put in," he said.