A message by Pope John Paul II for Divine Mercy Sunday, written prior to his death, was read April 2, 2005 — the day of his death — at the end of the first funeral Mass celebrated for the pontiff.

Then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the text before the recitation of the Regina Coeli, which during the Easter season replaces the Angelus.

The feast of divine mercy, celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, was dear to the late pontiff, who instituted the feast day in 2000.

“To all of mankind, who so often seems lost and dominated by the power of evil, egoism, and fear, the risen Lord offers as a gift his love, which pardons, reconciles, and opens the soul again to hope,” the pope had written. “It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How the world needs to understand and welcome divine mercy!”

In his text, the pope commented on the Gospel reading in which the risen Christ appears to the apostles and shows them his punctured hands and side. “Those glorious wounds that he made an incredulous Thomas touch eight days later reveal God’s mercy who ‘so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,’” the pope’s text read.

“Lord, who with your death and resurrection revealed the Father’s love, we believe in you and with trust we repeat today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us and on the entire world,” the text continued.

“May the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation, which we will celebrate tomorrow [in 2005 the Annunciation, March 25, fell on Palm Sunday, so the liturgical feast was moved to the Sunday after the second Sunday of Easter], encourage us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery of this merciful love that bursts forth from the heart of Christ,” he concluded.

This story was originally published on CNA on April 2, 2005, and was updated April 14, 2023.