VATICAN CITY, Vatican, April 2 (CNA) - Pope John Paul died after attending the Mass of the Divine Mercy, a feast he personally established three years ago, revealed the Vatican in a press release.
The Holy Father died at 9:37 p.m. in his private apartment.
“At 8 p.m., Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls explained “the celebration of Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday began in the Holy Father's room, presided by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz with the participation of Cardinal Marian Jaworski, of Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko and of Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki.”
During the Mass, the Holy Father received Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick.
“The Holy Father's final hours were marked by the uninterrupted prayer of all those who were assisting him in his pious death, and by the choral participation in prayer of the thousands of faithful who, for many hours, had been gathered in St. Peter's Square,” said the Vatican statement.
Present at the moment of the death of John Paul II were his two personal secretaries, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, Fr. Tadeusz Styczen, the three nuns, Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who assist in the Holy Father's apartment, and the Pope's personal physician Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, with the two doctors on call, Dr. Alessandro Barelli and Dr. Ciro D'Allo, and the two nurses on call.
According to Navarro-Valls, “immediately afterwards Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano arrived, as did the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State, and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, Vice-Chamberlain of Holy Roman Church.
“Thereafter, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko also arrived”.
As the end of his life approached, the Holy Father reportedly dictated a message for the Catholic faithful to his secretary: "I am happy and you should be happy too. Do not weep. Let us pray together with joy."
Father Jarek Cielecki, director of a Vatican TV station, gave more of the details of the Holy Father's last moments: "The Holy Father died looking towards the window as he prayed, and that shows that in some way he was conscious," Cielecki said. "A short while before dying, the Pope raised his right hand in a clear, although simply hinted at, gesture of blessing, as if he became aware of the crowd of faithful present in St Peter's Square, who in those moments were following the reciting of the Rosary," he added. "Just after the prayer ended, the Pope made a huge effort and pronounced the word 'Amen'. A moment later, he died."