Last Will and Testament of Pope John XXIII
Venice, June 29, 1954
My Spiritual Testament And Last Wishes
On the point of presenting myself before the One and Triune Lord who created me, redeemed me, chose me to be his priest and bishop, and covered me with unending graces, I entrust my poor soul to His mercy; I humbly ask pardon for my sins and deficiencies. I offer Him the little good, although petty and imperfect, that with His aid I have succeeded in doing, for His glory, for the service of Holy Church, for the edification of my brethren, begging Him finally to receive me, like a good and kind father, with His Saints into eternal happiness.
A Profession Of Faith
I profess once again with all my heart my entire Christian and Catholic faith, my adherence and subjection to the Holy Apostolic and Roman Church, and my complete devotion and obedience to her August Head, the Supreme Pontiff, whom it was my great honor to represent for long years in various regions of the East and West, who at the end chose to have me come to Venice as Cardinal and Patriarch, and whom I have always followed with sincere affection, aside from and above and beyond any dignity conferred upon me. The sense of my own littleness and nothingness has always been my good companion, keeping me humble and calm, and making me employ myself to the best of my ability in a constant exercise of obedience and charity for souls and for the interests of the Kingdom of Jesus, my Lord and my all. To Him be all glory; for me and for my merit. His mercy. Meritum meum miseratio Domini. Domine, tu omnia nosti: tu scis quia amo Te. 1 This alone is enough for me.
A Request For Pardon
I ask pardon of those whom I have unwittingly offended, of all to whom I have not been a source of edification. I feel that I have nothing to forgive anyone, for all who have known and dealt with me—including those who have offended me, scorned me, held me in bad esteem (with good reason, for that matter), or have been a source of affliction to me—I regard solely as brothers and benefactors, to whom I am grateful and for whom I pray and always will pray.
The Grace Of Poverty
Born poor, but of honorable and humble people, I am particularly happy to die poor, having given away, in accordance with the various demands and circumstances of my simple and modest life, for the benefit of the poor and of the Holy Church that had nurtured me, all that came into my hands—which was little enough, as a matter of fact—during the years of my priesthood and episcopacy. Outward appearances of ease and comfort often veiled hidden thorns of distressing poverty and kept me from giving with all the largesse I would have liked. I thank God for this grace of poverty, which I vowed in my youth, poverty of spirit as a priest of the Sacred Heart, and real poverty. This grace has sustained me in never asking for anything, neither positions, nor money, nor favors—never, not for myself, nor for my relatives or friends.
To The Pope's Own Family
To my beloved family secundum sanguinem 2—from whom, in fact, I have received no material wealth—I can leave only a whole-hearted and most special blessing, inviting it to maintain that fear of God that always made it so dear and beloved to me, simple and modest as it was, without my ever feeling ashamed of it: this is its true title to honor. I have also helped it at times in its more serious needs, as one poor man with the other poor, but without ever removing it from the honorable poverty with which it was content. I pray and always will pray for its prosperity; I am happy to see in its new, vigorous offshoots that strength and loyalty to their fathers' religious tradition which will always be its fortune. My most fervent wish is that none of my relatives and dear ones may miss the joy of that last eternal reunion.
Departing, as I trust, for the roads of Heaven, I salute and thank and bless the many who formed my spiritual family at Bergamo, at Rome, in the East, in France, and at Venice, and who were my fellow townsmen, benefactors, colleagues, students, aides, friends and acquaintances, priests and laymen. Brothers and Sisters, and for whom, by the disposition of Providence, I was, no matter how unworthy, a colleague, a father, or a pastor.
To All His Benefactors
The goodness directed toward my poor person by all whom I met along my path made my life serene. As I face death, I recall each and every one—those who have preceded me in taking the final step, those who will survive me and who will follow me. May they pray for me. I will repay them from Purgatory or from Paradise, where I hope to be received, I repeat it once again, not because of my merits, but because of the mercy of my Lord.
To His Children Of Venice
I remember all and will pray for all. But my children of Venice —the last ones the Lord placed around me, as a final consolation and joy for my priestly life—I want especially to mention as a sign of my admiration, my gratitude, my very special tenderness. I embrace them all in spirit, clergy and laity without exception, as I have loved them without exception as members of the same family, the object of one paternal and priestly care and love. Pater sancte, serva eos in nomine tuo quos dedisti mihi: ut sint unum sicut et nos. 3
A Final Reminder
At the moment for saying farewell, or better still, arrivederci, I once more remind everyone of what counts most in life: blessed Jesus Christ, His Holy Church, His Gospel; and in the Gospel, above all, the Pater noster 4 in the spirit and heart of Jesus and the Gospel, the truth and goodness, the goodness meek and kind, active and patient, victorious and unbowed.
My children, my brethren, arrivederci. 5 In the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, our love; of Mary, our and His most sweet Mother; of St. Joseph, my first and specially loved Protector. In the name of St. Peter, St. John the Baptist, St. Mark, St. Lawrence Justinian, and St. Pius X. Amen.
Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, patriarch.
(The following additions to the text were all made in his own handwriting.)
… The pages that I have written are valid, as an attestation of my absolute will in case of my sudden death.
Venice, September 17, 1957
Angelo Giuseppe Cardinal Roncalli
And they are valid also as a spiritual testament to be added to the provisions of the will joined here under the date of April 30, 1959.
John PP. XXIII
From Rome, December 4, 1959.
Castelgandolfo, September 12, 1961
Under the dear and trusting auspices of Mary, my heavenly Mother, to whose name is dedicated today's liturgy, and in the eightieth year of my age, I hereby lay down and renew my testament, annulling every other declaration concerning my will made and written prior to this a number of times.
I await and will accept with simplicity and joy the arrival of sister death in all the circumstances with which it will please the Lord to send her to me.
For God's forgiveness
First of all, I ask forgiveness of the Father of mercies pro innumerabilibus peccatis, offensionibus et negligentiis meis, 6 as I have so often said and repeated in offering my daily Sacrifice.
For this first grace of Jesus' pardon for all my faults, and of my soul's introduction into blessed and eternal Paradise, I recommend myself to the prayers of all who have followed me and known me during the whole of my life as priest, bishop, and most humble and unworthy Servant of the Servants of the Lord.
Renewal Of Faith
Next, my heart leaps with joy to make a fervent, whole-hearted renewal of my profession of Catholic, apostolic, and Roman faith. Among the various forms and symbols with which the faith is usually expressed, I prefer the priestly and pontifical "Credo of the Mass" because of its more vast, more sonorous elevation as in union with the universal Church of every rite, of every age, of every region—from the "Credo in unum Deum, patrem omnipotentem" 7 to the "et vitam venturi saeculi." 8
1 My merit is the mercy of the Lord. Lord thou has known all things. Thou knowest that I love Thee.
2 by blood
3 John 17, 11. "Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me; that they may be one, as we also are."
4 Our Father.
5 Till we meet again.
6 for my countless sins, offenses and negligences.
7 "I believe in one God, the father almighty."
8 "and the life of the world to come."
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