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Reserved for those on their deathbed, the Apostolic Pardon is a true gift of grace for the dying.

As a person draws closer to the doors of death, there is one blessing in particular that the Church reserves for this most sacred moment: the Apostolic Pardon. It is a pardon that can be given by any priest and has the special power of removing all temporal punishment due to sin.

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains exactly what the Apostolic Pardon is and the requirements to perform it.

“The anointing [of the sick] is ordinarily succeeded by the conferring of the Apostolic benediction, or ‘last blessing,’ as it is commonly called. To this blessing a plenary indulgence is attached, to be gained, however, only at the hour of death, i.e. it is given nunc pro tunc. It is conferred in virtue of a special faculty granted to the bishops and by them delegated quite generally to their priests. The conditions requisite for gaining it are the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus at least mentally, acts of resignation by which the dying person professes his willingness to accept all his sufferings in reparation for his sins and submits himself entirely to the will of God…. The words of St. Augustine are in point: ‘However innocent your life may have been, no Christian ought to venture to die in any other state than that of the penitent.’”

The Apostolic Pardon is typically preceded by the Sacrament of Confession, to the extent that the dying person is able to participate in the sacrament. The priest then prays the “last blessing.”

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.
R. Amen.