Prayers for the grace of a happy death

Artwork: Giambattista Pittoni, “The Death of Joseph."


Prayers for the sick, dying, dead, and the grace of a happy death are almost too numerous to count. Below is a small collection of old prayers on prayers specifically for the grace of a happy death. More PDFs of prayers are provided at the bottom of the page.

Catholic Tradition

“Prayers for the Dying and the Holy Souls.” Catholic Tradition,

O Glorious St. Joseph, behold I choose thee today for my special patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul into the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

A Manual of Prayers

Catholic Church, and Plenary Council of Baltimore. A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Catholic Laity: Prepared and Published by Order of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore. New York: Catholic Publication Society, 1888.

O Lord Jesus, God of goodness, and Father of mercies, I draw nigh to Thee with a contrite and humble heart; to Thee I recommend the last hour of my life, and that judgment which awaits me afterwards.

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my feet, benumbed with death, shall admonish me that my mortal course is drawing to an end,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my hands, cold and trembling, shall no longer be able to clasp the crucifix, and, against my will, shall let it fall on my bed of suffering,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When mine eyes, dim and troubled at the approach of death, shall fix themselves on Thee, my last and only support,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my lips, pale and trembling, shall pronounce for the last time Thine adorable name,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my face, pale and livid, shall inspire the beholders with pity and dismay, when my hair, bathed in the sweat of death, and stiffening on my head, shall forbode mine approaching end,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When mine ears, soon to be for ever shut to the discourse of men, shall be open to that irrevocable decree which is to fix my doom for all eternity,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me. -

When my imagination, agitated by dreadful spectres, shall be sunk in an abyss of anguish ; when my soul, affrighted with the sight of my iniquities and the terrors of Thy judgments, shall have to fight against the angel of darkness, who will endeavor to conceal Thy mercies from mine eyes, and plunge me into despair,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my poor heart, oppressed with suffering and exhausted by its continual struggles with the enemies of its salvation, shall feel the pangs of death,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When the last tear, the forerunner of my dissolution, shall drop from mine eyes, receive it as a sacrifice of expiation for my sins ; grant that I may expire the victim of penance; and then, in that dreadful moment,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my friends and relations, surrounding my bed, shall be moved with compassion for me, and invoke Thy clemency in my behalf,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When I shall have lost the use of my senses, when the world shall have vanished from my sight, when mine agonizing soul shall feel the pangs of death,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my last sighs shall force my soul from my body, accept them as signs of a loving impatience to come to Thee,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When my soul, trembling on my lips, shall bid farewell to the world, and leave my body lifeless, pale, and cold, receive this separation as a homage which I willingly pay to Thy divine Majesty, and in that last moment of my mortal life,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

When at length my soul, admitted to Thy presence, shall first behold the splendor of Thy Majesty, reject it not, but receive me into Thy bosom, where I may for ever sing Thy praises; and in that moment when eternity shall begin for me,

Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me.

Let us pray. God, who hast doomed all men to die, but hast concealed from all the hour of their death : grant that I may pass my days in the practice of holiness and justice, and that I may be made worthy to quit this world in the peace of a good conscience and in the embrace of Thy love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Key of Heaven

The Key of Heaven: Or, a Manual of Prayer. New York: P. J. Kenedy, 1870.

  1. My heart is ready, God, my heart is ready : not my will, but thine be done. I resign myself entirely to thee, Lord, to receive death at the time and in the manner it shall please thee to send it.
  1. I most humbly ask pardon for all the sins I have committed against thy sovereign goodness, and repent of them all from the bottom of my heart.
  1. I firmly believe whatsoever the holy Catholic Church believes and teaches; and by thy grace I will die in this belief.
  1. I hope to possess eternal life through thy infinite mercy, and the merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ.
  1. My God, my sovereign good, I desire to love thee above all things, and to despise this miserable world. I desire to love my neighbor as myself, for the love of thee, and from my heart to forgive all injuries.
  1. My divine Jesus, how great is my desire to receive thy sacred body ! O! come now into my soul, at least by a spiritual communion. ! grant that I may worthily receive thee before my death ! I desire to unite my communion to all the worthy communions which shall be made in thy holy Church, even to the end of the world.
  1. Grant me the grace, my divine Saviour, perfectly to efface all the sins I have committed by any of my senses, by applying daily to my soul thy blessed merits, the holy unction of thy precious blood.
  1. Holy Virgin, Mother of God, defend me from my enemies in my last hour, and present me to thy divine Son. Glorious St. Michael, prince of the heavenly host; my angel guardian, and blessed patrons, intercede for me, and assist me in this my last and dreadful passage.
  1. my God, I renounce all temptations of the enemy, and in general whatsoever may displease thee. I adore and accept thy divine appointments with regard to my soul, and entirely abandon myself to them as most just and equitable.
  1. Jesus, my divine Redeemer, be to me a Saviour. Save me, my God, hiding myself with an humble confidence in thy dear wounds. I deliver my soul into thy divine hands ; receive it in the bosom of thy divine mercy. Amen.

With God

Lasance, Francis Xavier. With God: A Book of Prayers and Reflections. New York: Benziger Bros, 1911.

Grant us, Lord Jesus, always to follow the example of Thy holy family, that at the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother with blessed Joseph may come to meet us, and so we may deserve to be received by Thee into Thy everlasting dwelling-place.