A reminder about the Apostolic Pardon given by a priest to the dying

Two recent email exchanges brought up the importance of the Apostolic Pardon (AP).  It is also sometimes called the Apostolic Blessing.

The AP is a special indulgence given by a priest to a person who is dying which remits all temporal punishment due to sins.   The AP does not, itself, forgive sins.   The AP should be received in the state of grace.  Hence, it is generally imparted after sacramental confession of sins (if possible) and/or the sacrament of anointing, possibly with Viaticum (final reception of the Eucharist).

If there is no priest available at the time, a person can gain a plenary indulgence at the time of death if they are properly disposed and under the usual conditions.

With Summorum Pontificum we have also the traditional form of the AP along with two newer forms.

The older, traditional form of the AP:

“Ego facultate mihi ab Apostolica Sede tributa, indulgentiam plenariam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concedo et benedico te. In nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spirtus Sancti, Amen.”

“By the Faculty which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a plenary indulgence and the remission of all your sins, and I bless you. In the Name of the Father and the Son + and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Two newer forms:

“Ego facultáte mihi ab Apostólica Sede tribúta, indulgéntiam plenáriam et remissiónem ómnium peccatórum tibi concédo, in nómine Patris, et Fílii, + et Spíritus Sancti. Amen”

“By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

“Per sancrosáncta humánæ reparatiónis mystéria, remíttat tibi omnípotens Deus omnes præséntis et futúræ vitæ pœnas, paradísi portas apériat et ad gáudia te sempitérna perdúcat. Amen.”

“Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”

Frankly, that last one seems … meh… let’s just say that the sign of the Cross is important.

Some people have taken it upon themselves to print up cards with the AP along with a statement like, “I am Catholic.  Please call a priest.”, or words to that effect.

Finally, it is amazing that there are priests who to not know about this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. competent says:

    The only problem with is… far too many priests won’t come. This happened to my parents.

    “Today, if someone in your family is dying and you call the parish office after hours, you are more likely to get voicemail than a priest. Your chances of being anointed on your deathbed are miniscule in America. If you are lucky, you might be in the hospital when the priest makes a periodic visit. Or you might live in a parish that anoints elderly or sick people once a month at a weekday Mass. Otherwise, good luck.”

    Father Thomas Reese
    August 11, 2016

  2. JesusFreak84 says:

    My 1962 missal says that the AP/AB *can* remit sins, even mortal sins, if the person is unconscious and would have Confessed those sins if physically/mentally possible. Or maybe I misread something in the section on Last Rites…

  3. Curate says:

    Such a beautiful gift from the Pope. I’ve found so many times in my young priesthood that, not much longer after a person receives the Apostolic Pardon, our Lord calls them home to himself. It’s as if the soul waits until a priest comes. Then after the priest leaves, Nunc Dimittis…

  4. chantgirl says:

    My Grandmother died last week. She received the Apostolic Pardon from the bishop, and died absolutely peacefully.

    Family members of the dying must be tenacious in finding a priest to visit their loved ones. In a hospital setting, often you will get a lady chaplain instead of a priest. It is not even a sure thing that the children of devout Catholic parents will call for a priest. We should all foster a devotion to St. Joseph, and pray in advance for a happy death. Some saints even prayed the prayers for the dying (for their own souls) far in advance of their actual death in case they were mentally or physically unable to at the time of death.

    And prepay for your requiem and all of the stipends to priest, servers, and musicians ahead of time so that none of your family members get weird ideas after you die!

  5. Michael says:

    The past few years I’ve been at the bedside of five dying persons when a priest has come to administer Last Rites. Four of those times the priest did not know about the Apostolic Pardon and I had to bring it up on my phone so they could say it. Three of those four priests were ordained decades ago and one was a recently ordained priest who was trained at PNAC. The one priest who knew and said it had his own card with the text on it (and he also had a devotion to St. Gemma Galgani).

    Everyone – PLEASE don’t be shy, and the next time you see your parish priests (perhaps this weekend after Mass), show this to them and ask/beg/plead that they include the Apostolic Blessing as part of their service at the bedside of the dying.

  6. James in Perth says:

    For those with a greater interest in this topic, here is a “Catholic Stuff You Should Know” podcast from a few years back on the Apostolic Pardon:


    I found this helpful as it clarified some of my own questions.

  7. Argument Clinician says:

    The Breviarium Romanum printed by Nova et Vetera has a card sewn into the back cover containing the emergency forms of baptism, viaticum, absolution, and anointing, as well as the Apostolic Pardon. Very useful!

    The Apostolic Pardon contained there has both parts of the prayer Fr. Z posted above (including the “second part” he didn’t seem to like very much). At least on the breviary card, it seems that the two parts are meant to be said together, not “choose one”. And the second half ends with the “Benedicat te omnipotens Deus…” and the sign of the cross.

  8. maternalView says:

    I think having a few cards printed up sounds like a good idea. I had wondered if priests knew this prayer. I know a few seminarians that I’ll have to share this with.

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