His Last Words

As Pope John Paul II’s Parkinson’s disease progressed towards its end, the Pope had trouble speaking and breathing. His breath made a rattling noise. He had to undergo a tracheotomy to avoid suffocation.

When he attempted to give the Easter Sunday blessing on March 27, 2005, from his balcony in St. Peter’s Square, he was not able to speak. The Pope whispered, “My voice is gone.”

Cardinal Dziwisz said that the Pope “was deeply shaken and saddened.… He looked into my eyes and said, ‘Maybe it would be better for me to die if I can’t fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to me.’ Then he handed me a paper on which he had written, ‘Thy will be done… Totus Tuus.’ He wasn’t expressing desperation, but submission to God’s will.” These were the last written words of the Pope. (Interview with Raymond Arroyo, April 28, 2011).

On the morning of March 31,2005, he was hit by a shaking chill, followed by a sharp rise in temperature to about 103. Then very grave septic shock set in, with cardio-circulatory collapse due to a urinary tract infection. Despite his deteriorating condition, he decided not to return to the hospital because he wanted to suffer and die at home, near the tomb of Peter receiving the necessary medical care just as easily there as in the hospital.

According to a Polish tradition, a small, lit candle illuminated the twilight of the room, where the Pope was dying. As he lay dying, he said, “I am happy and you should be happy too. Do not weep. Let us pray together with joy.”

When some aides told the Pope that thousands of young people were in St. Peter’s Square he said, “’I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you.”

On April 2, his last day, the Pope bid farewell to his closest collaborators and requested that the gospel of St. John be read aloud to him. A priest read the gospel chapter by chapter through chapter 9.

The Pope spoke his last words to a woman, Sister Tobiana. He whispered in her ear, “Let me go home to the Lord.”

At 9 PM Cardinal Dziwisz celebrated the vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Divine Mercy, the feast which Pope John Paul II had instituted. After receiving the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Pope’s heart stopped beating at 9:37 PM. His doctor said, “He’s gone home to the Lord.”

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