His Last Will and Testament
Pope John Paul II wrote his own Last Will and Testament on June 3, 1979 which he modified every year during his spiritual exercises. He wrote the dates in the European style, which makes “6.3.1979″ represent March 3, 1979.
Totus Tuus ego sum
In the Name of the Holiest Trinity. Amen.
“Keep watch, because you do not know which day when the Lord will come” — 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. To 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 leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. 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.
24.II – 1.III.1980
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 of Christ.
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. 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 (Totus Tuus).
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 October 16, 1978. As I write these words, the Jubilee Year of 2000 is already a reality, and under way. The night of December 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 January 19, the Door of the Basilica of St. Paul “Outside the Walls.” This latter event, given its ecumenical character, has remained particularly engraved in memory.
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 these milieux.
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 you.”
“In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.”