Catholic Prayers for the Dying

In Catholicism, it’s traditional to pray for those nearing the end of their lives. Catholic prayers for the dying are said to help the faithful receive God’s grace and find comfort in their final hours.


Though some prayers are especially meant for a priest to recite with, over or for a dying loved one, many prayers can be prayed by any baptized Christian, either together with the loved one who is dying, or on their behalf. Here's a helpful list:

Last rites prayers

The last rites are a series of prayers and sacraments administered by a priest. They’re said to help spiritually strengthen Catholics who are nearing the end of their lives. A form of last rites may also be given to non-Catholics.

The Act of Contrition is the first prayer of the last rites for someone near death who is either a Catholic or Anglican. It’s recited either during the sacrament of Confession, which is also a part of the last rites, or separately by the priest. It reads:

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
who art all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. 


The Apostles’ Creed is the next last rites prayer, centering faith and belief in God, Jesus and the saints. It’s said not only by Catholics but also by many other denominations, including Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and others. It reads:

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth, 
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, 
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. 
He descended into Hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; 
He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, 
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. 


After the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and before the Holy Communion, the Our Father prayer is recited. The words are:

“Our Father,
Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. 


A prayer asking God to welcome the loved one into heaven may also be said by the priest to conclude last rites. An example:

"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."


Eternal Rest Prayer

The Eternal Rest Prayer in the Catholic faith is meant to help guide the soul’s journey to heaven. It’s often recited at the gravesite and goes like this:

“Eternal rest grant unto [him/her], O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon [him/her].
May [his/her] soul and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercies of our Lord Jesus Christ,
rest in peace. 


Prayer for the Dying

In the Prayer for the Dying, a plea for mercy is made to Jesus. Here is that prayer:

“Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls, 
I pray you by the agony of your most sacred heart, 
and by the sorrows of your Immaculate mother, 
to wash in your most Precious Blood the sinners of the world who are now in their agony, 
and who will die today.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. 
Assist me in my last agony, 
and grant that I may breathe forth my soul in peace with you. 


Prayer for a peaceful death

The holy family is asked to guide the soul’s journey in this short and comforting Prayer to St. Joseph for a Happy Death, which reads:

“O Blessed Joseph, you gave your last breath in the loving embrace of Jesus and Mary. 
When the seal of death shall close my life, come with Jesus and Mary to aid me. 
Obtain for me this solace for that hour—to die with their holy arms around me. 
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I commend my soul, living and dying, into your sacred arms. 


Other short prayers

Another powerful prayer of support to help your family member or friend feel comforted on their soul’s journey reads:

“We journey with you, [name of the person], toward your new home. 
We will go with you as far as the front door. 
We will help you and pray with you as you pass through this door into your new home 
in the kingdom of God. 
Let us walk together in faith and peace.”


This short prayer to the holy family can be prayed by your loved one for comfort and peace:

“Holy Mary, pray for me.
Saint Joseph, pray for me.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.”

Prayers for mourners

Catholic prayers of bereavement can help comfort and console us when our loved ones pass.

Here are two prayers for mourners, one addressing Mary and one beseeching God:


“O sweet mother Mary,
who knew the sadness of mourning those your heart loved most,
Jesus, your Son,
and Joseph, your devoted spouse,
pray for us in our time of loss.”

“May the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ
bless and console us
and gently wipe every tear from our eyes.”

The rosary service

An important part of Catholic and some Anglican/Episcopal services is the rosary service, a gathering and prayer service that takes place the evening before the funeral. Usually lasting about 30 minutes, the prayer service may offer great comfort and a sense of community to the bereaved as mourners come together and pray the rosary. 

Grief support and the Compassion Helpline®

Catholic funeral rituals bring together family and friends in shared prayer and community after the loss of a loved one. Dignity Memorial® associates will compassionately guide you through planning your loved one’s funeral. We also offer support services after a loved one's service.

Those services, which are provided by Charles Nechtem Associates, include an online grief library and professional grief counselors who are available 24/7 for up to 13 months after a loved one's service through the Compassion Helpline.

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