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Pope John Paul II Testament
VATICAN CITY, April 7, 2005
Here is the text of Pope John Paul II's
testament, released by the Vatican today in the early afternoon
Rome time. There is a suggestion in the letter that the Pope
considered resigning in the year 2000, the year he turned
80 and the year the second millennium turned into the third.
There is also a suggestion that he would like the college
of cardinals to consider burying him -- or perhaps a part
of him, like his heart -- in Poland.
There is no mention of any bishop or cardinal that the Pope
proposes as a good successor for him, as a rumor yesterday
- Dr. Robert Moynihan, Editor, Inside the Vatican
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
"Keep watch, because you do not know which day when
the Lord will come" (cf. Mt 24, 42) -- These words remind
me of the final call, which will come the moment that the
Lord will choose. I desire to follow Him and desire that all
that is part of my earthly life shall prepare me for this
moment. I do not know when it will come, but, like all else,
this moment too I place into the hands of the Mother of My
Master: Totus Tuus. In the same maternal hands I place all
those with whom my life and vocation are bound. Into these
Hands I leave above all the Church, and also my Nation and
all humanity. I thank everyone. Of everyone I ask forgiveness.
I also ask prayers, so that the Mercy of God will loom greater
than my weakness and unworthiness.
During spiritual exercises I reflected upon the testament
of the Holy Father Paul VI. This study has led me to write
the present testament.
I do not leave behind me any property which necessitates
disposal. Regarding those items of daily use of which I made
use, I ask that they be distributed as may appear opportune.
My personal notes are to be burned. I ask that Don Stanislaw
oversees this and thank him for the collaboration and help
so prolonged over the years and so comprehensive. All other
thanks, instead, I leave in my heart before God Himself, because
it is difficult to express them.
Regarding the funeral, I repeat the same disposition given
by the Holy Father Paul VI: Burial in the bare earth, not
in a tomb, 13.3.92.
Apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud Eum redemptio
John Paul pp.II
Following my death I ask for Holy Masses and prayers
I express the deepest faith that, despite all my weakness,
the Lord will accord me every necessary grace to face, according
to His will, whatever task, trial and suffering that will
be demanded of His servant, during the course of my life.
I also have faith that never will it be permitted that, through
my behavior: by words, actions or omissions, I betray my obligations
in this holy seat of Peter.
Also during these spiritual exercises I have reflected upon
the truth of the Priesthood of Christ in the perspective of
that Crossing which is for each one of us the moment of death.
In taking leave of this world -- to be born into the other,
the future world, eloquent sign is for us the Resurrection
I therefore read the copy of my testament of the last year,
it also made during spiritual exercises -- I compared it with
the testament of my great Predecessor and Father Paul VI,
with that sublime witness to the death of a Christian and
of a pope -- and I renewed in myself consciousness of the
questions, to which refers the copy of 6.III.1979, prepared
by me (in a rather provisional way).
Today I desire to add to it only this, that each one of us
must keep in mind the prospect of death. And must be ready
to present himself before the Lord and Judge -- and contemporaneously
Redeemer and Father. Then I too can take this into consideration
continuously, entrusting that decisive moment to the Mother
of Christ and of the Church -- to the Mother of my hope.
The times in which we live are indescribably difficult and
troubled. Difficult and tense has become the life of the Church
as well, characteristic trial of these times -- as much for
the Faithful, as much as for the Pastors. In some Countries
(as, e.g. in that one about which I was reading during the
spiritual exercises), the Church finds itself in a period
of persecution that is not inferior to those of the first
centuries; on the contrary, the degree of cruelty and hatred
is greater still. Sanguis martyrum - semen christianorum (Eds:
Latin for "Blood of the martyrs -- seeds of Christians").
And beyond this -- so many people disappear innocently, even
in this Country, in which we live...
I desire once more to entrust myself totally to the mercy
of the Lord. He himself will decide when and how I must finish
my earthly life and pastoral ministry. In life and in death
Totus Tuus through the Immaculate. Accepting this death already,
I hope that Christ will give me grace for my final passage,
which is Easter. I hope too that it shall be made useful also
for this important cause in which I am trying to serve: the
salvation of men, the safeguarding of the human family and
of all the nations and the peoples (among these I refer in
particular to my earthly Country), useful for the persons
who in a special way have entrusted to me for the questions
of the Church, for the glory of God himself.
I do not desire to add anything to that which I wrote a year
ago -- only express this readiness and at the same time this
faith, to which the present spiritual exercises prepared me.
John Paul II
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the course of the spiritual exercises this year I have
read (several times) the text of the testament of 6.III.1979.
Notwithstanding that even now it is to be considered as provisional
(not definitive), I leave it in its presently existing form.
I change (for now) nothing, nor do I add anything, as regards
the arrangements contained within it.
The attempt on my life of 13.V.1981 has in some way confirmed
the exactness of the words written in the period of the spiritual
exercises of 1980 (24.II - 1.III).
All the more profoundly I feel myself totally in the Hands
of God -- and I remain continually at the disposition of my
Lord, entrusting myself to Him and to His Immaculate Mother
John Paul pp. II
In connection with the final phrase of my testament of 6.III.1979
("About the place/the place, that is, of the funeral/may
the College of Cardinals and Compatriots") -- I clarify
what I had in mind: the metropolitan of Krakow or the General
Council of the Bishops of Poland -- I ask in the meantime
the College of Cardinals to satisfy to the extent possible
the eventual questions of the aforementioned.
1.III.1985 (during spiritual exercises).
Again -- concerning the expression "College of Cardinals
and the Compatriots": the "College of Cardinals"
has no obligation to consult "the Compatriots" on
this question; it can, in any case, do so, if for some reason
it considers it right to do so.
The spiritual exercises of the Jubilee year 2000
(VATICAN'S NOTATION: "for the will")
1. When, on the day of Oct. 16, 1978, the conclave of cardinals
chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland Cardinal Stefan
Wyszynski told me: "The task of the new pope will be
to introduce the Church into the Third Millennium." I
do not know if I am repeating the phrase exactly, but at least
such was the sense of what I heard then. It was said by the
Man who has passed into history as the Primate of the Millennium.
A great Primate. I was witness to the mission, to His total
entrusting of himself. To His struggles; to His victory. "Victory,
when it will come, will be a victory through Maria" --
these, the words of his Predecessor, Cardinal August Hlond,
the Primate of the Millennium was wont to repeat.
In this way I was to some degree prepared for the task which
was placed before me on Oct. 16, 1978. As I write these words,
the Jubilee Year of 2000 is already a reality, and under way.
The night of Dec. 24, 1999, the symbolic Door of the Great
Jubilee of the Basilica of St. Peter was opened, and successively
that of St. John Lateran, then St. Mary Major's on New Year's
Eve; and on Jan. 19, the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul
"Outside the Walls." This latter event, given its
ecumenical character, has remained particularly engraved in
2. To the degree that the Jubilee Year 2000 goes forward,
closing behind us day by day is the 20th century, while the
21st century opens. In accordance with the designs of Providence,
it was granted to me to live during the difficult century
that is passing, and now, in the year during which my age
reaches 80 years ("octogesima adveniens"), it is
necessary to ask if it is not the time to repeat the words
of the Biblical Simeon, "Nunc dimittis."
On May 13, 1981, the day of the attempt upon the life of
the Pope during the general audience in St. Peter's Square,
Divine Providence saved me from death in a miraculous way.
He who is the sole Savior of life and of death, Himself prolonged
this life, and in a certain way gave it to me anew. From this
moment it belongs to Him all the more. I hope that He will
help me to recognize the time until when I must continue this
service, to which he called me on the day of Oct. 16, 1978.
I ask (Him) to call me when He wants. "In life and in
death we belong to the Lord ... we are of the Lord" (cf
Romans 14, 8). I hope too that throughout the time given me
to carry out the service of Peter in the Church, the Mercy
of God will lend me the necessary strength for this service.
3. As I do every year during spiritual exercises I read my
testament from 6-III-1979. I continue to maintain the dispositions
contained in this text. What then, and even during successive
spiritual exercises, has been added constitutes a reflection
of the difficult and tense general situation which marked
the '80s. From autumn of the year 1989 this situation changed.
The last decade of the century was free of the previous tensions;
that does not mean that it did not bring with it new problems
and difficulties. In a special way may Divine Providence be
praised for this, that the period of the so-called "cold
war" ended without violent nuclear conflict, the danger
of which weighed on the world in the preceding period.
4. Being on the threshold of the third millennium "in
medio Ecclesiae" I wish once again to express gratitude
to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of Vatican Council II,
to which, together with the entire Church -- and above all
the entire episcopacy -- I feel indebted. I am convinced that
for a long time to come the new generations will draw upon
the riches that this Council of the 20th century gave us.
As a bishop who participated in this conciliar event from
the first to the last day, I wish to entrust this great patrimony
to all those who are and who will be called in the future
to realize it. For my part I thank the eternal Pastor Who
allowed me to serve this very great cause during the course
of all the years of my pontificate.
"In medio Ecclesiae" ... from the first years of
my service as a bishop -- precisely thanks to the Council
-- I was able to experience the fraternal communion of the
Episcopacy. As a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow I experienced
the fraternal communion among priests -- and the Council opened
a new dimension to this experience.
5. How many people should I list! Probably the Lord God has
called to Himself the majority of them -- as to those who
are still on this side, may the words of this testament recall
them, everyone and everywhere, wherever they are.
During the more than 20 years that I am fulfilling the Petrine
service "in medio Ecclesiae" I have experienced
the benevolence and even more the fecund collaboration of
so many cardinals, archbishops and bishops, so many priests,
so many consecrated persons -- brothers and sisters -- and,
lastly, so very, very many lay persons, within the Curia,
in the vicariate of the diocese of Rome, as well as outside
How can I not embrace with grateful memory all the bishops
of the world whom I have met in "ad limina Apostolorum"
visits! How can I not recall so many non-Catholic Christian
brothers! And the rabbi of Rome and so many representatives
of non-Christian religions! And how many representatives of
the world of culture, science, politics, and of the means
of social communication!
6. As the end of my life approaches I return with my memory
to the beginning, to my parents, to my brother, to the sister
(I never knew because she died before my birth), to the parish
in Wadowice, where I was baptized, to that city I love, to
my peers, friends from elementary school, high school and
the university, up to the time of the occupation when I was
a worker, and then in the parish of Niegowic, then St. Florian's
in Krakow, to the pastoral ministry of academics, to the milieu
of ... to all milieux ... to Krakow and to Rome ... to the
people who were entrusted to me in a special way by the Lord.
To all I want to say just one thing: "May God reward
"In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum."
The Via Crucis of John Paul II's Children
By Shena Muldoon, Managing Editor, Inside the Vatican Magazine
"Vi ho cercato. Adesso voi siete venuti da me. E vi
"I looked for you. Now, you have come to me. And I thank
VATICAN CITY -- I saw these words today written boldly in
Italian on a large makeshift cardboard sign, hoisted up by
a teenager in the end of at least his ten hour long Via Crucis
to see the body of John Paul II.
These words, said repeatedly by the Pope last Friday night
on his deathbed about the thousands of young people praying
in the piazza underneath his window, capture the legendary
love between Holy Father and youth.
The morning after the Vatican announced the worsening of
the Pope's health, the piazza began to fill -- not just with
curious tourists, or the elderly still clinging to such "old-fashioned"
notions of religious authority -- but with teenagers and young
adults who had come to pray for the Pope.
Since his death, they have continued to pour into the city,
as if they wanted to bring him the 2005 World Youth Day that
he will miss.
Millions and millions of young people have traveled far to
see him, particularly at the tri-annual World Youth Day gatherings,
which brought 7 million in Manilla, the largest gathering
of people in history.
But what is striking about the gathering now in Rome is how
much young people are willing not just to travel but to suffer
in order to say their last goodbye to their "papa."
World Youth Days, though not without discomforts, are largely
a time of comradeship and prayer in relatively comfortable
settings, but the road leading into St. Peter's Basilica to
see the body of John Paul II is beyond "uncomfortable."
It is a true Via Crucis.
Pilgrims enter a lane fenced off on both sides where, pressed
up against others, they alternately stand and walk slowly
for an upwards of 14 hours until, following a maze around
the Vatican, they gradually come up Via Conciliazione and
enter the basilica, where even there they can only briefly
pause before they are moved along.
Many have done it overnight, starting in the evening and
pausing for an hour or so in the middle of the night when
the basilica closes briefly until it reopens and the crowds
start their slow move again.
Long hours on your feet, with people talking in your ear,
smoking next to you, pressing up against you, praying next
And yet I've been told by those who have done it not only
that it was worth it to see the Pope, but that the pilgrimage
itself is rewarding, undergone in a spirit of unity and prayer.
My press badge enabled me to see the Holy Father's body in
Clementine Hall Monday morning, so I bypassed the agony that
my friends and other pilgrims shared.
My hour-long wait was not the same, ending with a walk up
the grand steps of the papal apartments amid journalists who
found it difficult to respect the guards' request for silence.
I regretted this ease in a way, as if I lost the chance to
join my generation's last goodbye to the Holy Father.
Perhaps wanting to participate with them somehow, though
admittedly without the courage to make the 12-hour pilgrimage,
I brought coffee at 8:30 this morning to the friends I had
left in the line at 10 pm the night before.
It reminded me in a way of the women greeting Jesus along
the Via Crucis; outside the fence marking the pilgrims' path
were sideliners like me, offering little comforts of conversation
and drink to those undergoing an experience we lacked the
nerve to do ourselves.
I didn't have to suffer to see the Holy Father -- and the
ease by which I and the people with me were able to go would
have justified a trip merely to satisfy curiosity, rather
any deeper devotion.
Seeing what the rest of the pilgrims have been willing to
do -- and particularly, why my generation of young people
have turned up in such vast numbers to do -- made me think
about why this Pope is so loved, and in particular why so
many young people are willing to suffer to pay homage to the
death of an old man.
Their gathering here in Rome upon his death challenges the
argument that the Pope's youthful following was primarily
a "personality cult" based on his undeniably charismatic
In the last years of his life, the Holy Father's illness
prevented him from being the kind of attention-grabbing, charismatic
figure he once was.
Those who remembered him from earlier times might easily
project what they knew of him onto his figure towards the
end of his life.
But for the young people gathered here, such memories they
might have of him as a younger pope wouldn't have been strong
enough to inspire them to travel such long distances and endure
such hours of discomfort to see him one last time.
More importantly, perhaps, one doesn't respond to the death
of a "charismatic personality" by spending long
hours in prayer and pilgrimage to honor the body that held
a personality no longer there. But these young pilgrims are
doing just that.
"Vi ho cercato" - "I looked for you."
This is the reason why young people loved John Paul II.
His warm personality helped, certainly, but more than that
it was his persistence, his faithfulness in always looking
for them and in remaining their father, even when it caused
him physical suffering to be so present.
When his illness masked his personality, his faithfulness
brought him to the window -- even three days before he died,
when he couldn't speak -- to show a sort of stubborn, fatherly
love that young people recognize and crave, and which is so
needed in an increasingly fatherless western society.
When I was at 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto, the Pope was
not the same lively man he was when I saw him 1993 at Denver's
World Youth Day.
But he was still there.
And that makes all the difference.
In the end, the Pope's faithfulness attracts young people
because it reminds them of God's own faithfulness.
It is eminently fitting that he died on the vigil of Divine
Mercy Sunday, for he incarnated for us the merciful for love
of the Father, who seeks out his prodigal sons, and is always
eager for their return.
"I have looked for you."
And now, having faithfully lived out his fatherhood to the
end, John Paul II's children come from all over the world
to Rome to show him that they love him not because he entertained
them, but because he loved them first.
And for this, they will spend hours of discomfort to see
him, one last time.
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