of the


The Funeral of  St. Fina
 Dominco Ghirlandaio 1486

An English translation of the popular ARS MORIENDI “art of dying,” appeared around 1450 under the title The Book of the Craft of Dying. Tr. adapted L. Dysinger, OSB


[INTRODUCTIONHere Begins ...]

1. The First Chapter is of Commendation of death: and of knowledge to die well

2. The Second Chapter is of Men’s Temptations that die

3. The Third Chapter contains the Interrogations that should be asked of them that be in their death bed: while they may speak and understand

4. The Fourth Chapter contains an Instruction: with certain Supplications for the Dying

5. The Fifth Chapter contains an Instruction onto them that shall die

6. The Sixth Chapter contains Prayers that should be said unto them that be a-dying of some man that is about them



Forasmuch as the passage of death, of the wretchedness of the exile of this world, for ignorance of dying — not only to laymen but also to religious and devout persons — seems wonderfully hard and perilous, and also right fearful and horrible; therefore in this present matter and treatise, that is of the Craft of Dying, is drawn and contained a short manner of exhortation, for teaching and comforting of them that be in point of death. This manner of exhortation ought subtly to be considered, noted, and understood in the sight of man’s soul; for doubtless it is and may be profitable generally, to all true Christian men, to learn and have craft and knowledge to die well.

This matter and treatise contains six parts of chapters:

The first is of commendation of death; and knowledge to die well.

The second contains the temptations of men that die.

The third contains the interrogations that should be asked of them that be in their death bed, while they can speak and understand.

The fourth contains an information, with certain obsecrations to them that shall die.

The fifth contains an instruction to them that shall die.

The sixth contains prayers that should be said to them that be a-dying, of some men that be about them.




Though bodily death be most dreadful of all fearful things, as the Philosopher [Aristotle] says in the third book of Ethics, yet spiritual death of the soul is as much more horrible and detestable, as the soul is more worthy and precious than the body; as the prophet David says: Mors peccatorum pessima..  “The death of the sinful man is worst of all deaths”. (Ps 33.22)  But as the same prophet says: Preciosa est in conspectu. Domini mors sanctorum eius. “The death of the good man is ever precious in the sight of God” (Ps. 115:15),what manner of bodily death that ever they die. And you shall understand also that not only the death of holy martyrs is so precious, but also the death of all other rightful and good Christian men; and furthermore the death, doubtless, of all sinful men: how long, and how wicked, and how cursed they have been all their life before, unto their last end that they die in — if they die in the state of very ‘ repentance and contrition, and in the very faith, and virtue, and charity of Holy Church — is acceptable and precious in the sight of God. As Saint John says in the. Apocalypse: Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur. “Blessed be all dead men that die in God.” (Rev. 14)

And therefore God says in the fourth chapter of. the Book of Wisdom: Justus si morte praeocupatus fuerit, in refrigerio erit. “A rightful man though he be haveed, or haveily or suddenly dead, he shall be had to a place of refreshing.” (Wis. iv. 7).  And so shall every man that dies, if it be so that he keep himself stably, and govern him wisely in the temptations that he shall have in [the] agony or strife of his death; as it shall be declared afterwards. And therefore of the commendation of death of good men only a wise man says thus: Death is nothing else but a going [out] of prison, and an ending of exile; a discharging of an heavy burden, that is the body; finishing of all infirmities; a scaping of all perils; destroying of all evil things; breaking of all bonds; paying of [the] debt of natural duty; turning again into his country; and entering into bliss and joy.

And therefore it is said in the seventh book of. Ecclesiastes: Melior est dies mortis die nativitatis. “The day of a man’s death is better than the day of man’s birth.” (Eccl, 7.1)  And this is understood only of good men and the chosen people of God. For of evil men and reprovable, neither the day of their birth, neither the day of their death, may be called good. And therefore every good perfect Christian man, and also every other man though he be imperfect and late converted from sin, so he be verily contrite and believe in God, should not be sorry nor troubled, neither dread death of his body, in what manner wise or for what manner cause that he be put thereto; but gladly and wilfully, with reason of his mind that rules  his sensuality [i.e. bodily nature], he should take his death and suffer it patiently, conforming and committing fully his will to God’s will and to God’s disposition alone, if he will go hence and die well and surely: witnessing the wise man that says thus: Bene mori, est libenter mori. “To die well is to die gladly and wilfully.”

And therefore he adds, and says thereto: Ut satis vixerim, nec anni, nec dies faciunt, sed animus. “Neither many days, nor many years, cause me to say and feel that I have lived long [enough,] but only the reasonable will of mine heart and of my soul.”  [(Seneca Epist. 61,3-4)]  Since more than that, of duty and natural right all men must necessarily die; [Cum igitur ex debito atque jure naturali omnes homines mori sit necesse.] and that how, when, and where that Almighty God will; and God’s will is evermore good, and over all good, in all things good, and just, and rightful. For as John Cassian says in his Conferences (1.5): Almighty God of His wisdom and goodness, all things that fall, both prosperity and adversity, disposes ever finally for our profit, and for the best for us; and more provideth, and is busier for the heal and salvation of His chosen children, than we ourselves may or can be.

And since, as it is aforesaid, we may not, in any way, neither flee nor escape, neither change the inevitable necessity and passage of death, therefore we ought to take our death when God will, wilfully and gladly, without any murmuring  or contradiction, through the might and boldness of the will of our soul virtuously disposed and governed by reason and very discretion; though the lewd » sensuality and frailty of our flesh naturally murmur or strive there against. And therefore Seneca says thus: Feras, non culpes, quod immutare non vales. “Suffer easily and blame you not, that you may not change nor void.” And the same clerk added to, and says: Si vis ista cum quibus urgeris effucere, non ut alibi sis oporteat, sed alius. “If you will escape that you are straitly be-wrapped  n, is is not necessary that you be in another place, but that you be another man.”

Furthermore, that a Christian man may die well and seemly, it is necessary that he learn to die, and as a wise man says: Scire mori est paratum cor suum habere, et animam ad superna: ut quandocunque mors advenerit, paratum cum inveniat ut absque omni retractione eam recipiat, quasi qui socii sui dilecti adventum desideratum expectat. “To know how to die is to have an heart and a soul every ready up to Godward, that when ever death come, he may be found all ready; without any withdrawal receive him, as a man would receive his well-beloved and trusty friend and fellow, that he had long abides and looked after.”

This knowledge is most profitable of all kinds of knowledge, in which knowledge religious men specially, more than other, and every day continually, should study more diligently than other men that they might apprehend it; especially  for the state of religion asks and requires it more in them than in others. Notwithstanding that every secular man, both clerk and layman, whether he be disposed and ready to die or no, yet nevertheless he must needs die when God will. Therefore ought every man, not only religious, but also every good and devout Christian man that desires to die well and surely, live in such wise and so have himself always, that he may safely die, every hour, when God wills. And so he should have his life in patience, and his death in desire, as Saint Paul had when he said: Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo. “I desire and covet to be dead, and be with Christ.”  (Phl. 1.23) And thus much suffices at this time, shortly said, of [the] craft and science of dying.




Know all men doubtless, that men that die, in their last sickness and end, have greatest and most grievous temptations, and such as they never had before in all their life. And of these temptations five be most principal.


I. The First is of the faith, forasmuch as faith is fundament of all men’s soul’s-heal; witnessing the Apostle that says: Fundamentum aliud nemo potest ponere. “Other fundament may no man put.” (1Cor.3.11) And therefore Saint Au[gu]stine says: Fides est bonorum omnium fundamentum, et humane salutis initium. “Faith is fundament of all goodness, and beginning of man’s health. (Heb.11.6) And therefore says Saint Paul: Sine fide est impossibile placere Deo. “It is impossible to please God without faith.” And Saint Au[gu]stine says: Qui non credit jam iudicatus est. “He that believeth not is now doomed.” And forasmuch as there is such and so great strength in the faith that without it there may no man be saved.

Therefore the devil with all his might is busy to avert fully a man from the faith in his last end; or, if he may not, that he labours busily to make his doubt therein, or somewhat draw him out of the way or deceive him with some manner of superstitious and false errors or heresies. But every good Christian man is bound especially habitually, though he may not actually and intellectually apprehend them, to believe, and full faith and credence give, not only to the principal articles of the faith, but also to all holy writ in all manner things; and fully to obey the statutes of the church of Rome, and stably to abide and die in them. For as soon as he begins to err or doubt in any of them all, as soon he goes out of the way of life, and his soul’s heal. But know you well without doubt, that in this temptation, and in all other that follow after, the devil may not annoy you, nor prevail against no man, in any way, as long as he has use of his free will, and of reason well disposed, unless he will wilfully consent unto his temptation.

And therefore no very Catholic Christian ought (not) to dread any of his illusions, or his false threatenings,’ or his feigned fearings. For as Christ himself says in the gospel: Diabolus est mendax et pater eius. “The devil is a liar, and a father of all leasings.” (Jn 8.44)  But manly, therefore, and stiffly and steadfastly abide and persevere; and die in the very faith and unity and obedience of our mother Holy Church.

And it is right profitable and good, as it is used in some religious, when a man is in agony of dying, with an high voice oft times to say the Creed before him, that he that is sick may be mortified in stableness of the faith; and fiends that may not suffer to hear it may be voided and driven away from him. Also to stableness of very faith should strengthen a sick man principally the stable faith of our holy Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Also the perseverant abiding faith of Job, of Raab the woman, and Achor, and such other. And also the faith of the Apostles, and other martyrs, confessors, and virgins innumerable.

For by faith all they that have been of old time before us — and all they be now and shall be hereafter — they all please, and have [pleased] and shall please God by faith. For as it is aforesaid: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Also double profit should induce every sick man to be stable in faith. One is: For faith may do all things; as our Lord Himself witnesseth in the gospel, and says: Omnia possibilia sunt credenti. “All things are possible to him that believeth steadfastly.” (Mk 9.22) Another is: “For faith obtains for a man all things”. As our Lord says: Quicquid orantes petitis, credite quia accipietis, et fiet vobis, etc. “Whatever it be that ye will pray and ask, believe verily that [ye] shall take  it, and ye shall have it; though that ye would say to an hill that he should lift himself up and fall into the sea,” (Mk 11.24)  as the hills of Capsye by prayer and petition of King Alexander, the great conqueror, were closed together.


II. The Second Temptation is Desperation; the which is against [the] hope and confidence that every man should have unto God. For when a sick man is sore tormented and vexed, with sorrow and sickness of his body, then the devil is most busy to superadd sorrow to sorrow, with all [the] ways that he may, objecting his sins against him for to induce him into despair.

Furthermore as Innocent the Pope, in his third book of the wickedness of mankind (de vilitate cond.hum. 3), says: Every man both good and evil, before his soul pass out of his body, he sees Christ put on the cross: the good man to his consolation, the evil man to his confusion, to make him ashamed that he has lost the fruit of his redemption.

Also the devil brings again into a man’s, mind that is in point of death specially those sins that he has done, and was not shriven of, to draw him thereby into despair. But therefore should no man despair in any way. For though any one man or woman had done as many thefts, or manslaughters, or as many other sins as be drops of water in the sea, and gravel stones in the strand, though he had never done penance for them afore, nor never had been shriven of them before — neither then might have time, for sickness or lack of speech, or shortness of time, to be shriven of them — yet should he never despair; for in such a case very contrition of heart within, with will to be shriven if time sufficed, is sufficient and accepted by God for to save him everlastingly: as the Prophet says in the psalm: Cor contritum et humilitatum, deus, non despicies. “Lord God, You will never despise a contrite heart and a meek” (Ps. 1.19).. And Exechiel says also: In quacunque hora conversus fuerit peccator, et ingemuerit, salvus erit. “In what hour that ever it be that the sinful man is sorry inward, and converted from his sins, he shall be saved.” (Ez 33.12)

And therefore  Saint Bernard says: “The pity and mercy of God is more than any wickedness.” And Augustine upon John, says: “We should never despair of any man as long as he is in his bodily life, for there is no sin so great but it may be healed, except despair alone.” And Saint Justin says also: “All sins that a man has done afore may not annoy nor damn a man, unless he be well pleased in his heart that he has done them.” Therefore no man should despair, though it were so that it were possible that he alone had done all manner of sins that might be done in the world. For by despair a man obtains nothing else but that God is much more offended thereby; and all his other sins be more grievous in God’s sight, and everlasting pain thereby increased infinitely to him that so despairs.

Therefore against despair, for to induce him that is sick and laboureth in his dying to very trust and confidence that he should principally have to God at that time, the disposition of Christ in the cross should greatly draw him. Of the which Saint Bernard says thus: What man is he that should not be ravished and drawn to hope, and have full confidence in God, and he take heed diligently of the disposition of Christ’s body in the cross. Take heed and see: His head is inclined to salve you; His mouth to kiss you; His arms spread to embrace you; His hands pierced to give you; His side opened to love you; His body along strait to give all Himself to you.”

Therefore no man should despair of forgiveness, but fully have hope and confidence in God; for the virtue of hope is greatly commendable, and of great merit before God. As the Apostle says, and exhorted us: nolite amittere confidentiam vestram quae magnam habet remunerationem. “Lose not your hope and confidence in God, the which has great reward of God.” (Heb 5.35) Furthermore, that no sinful man should in any way despair — have he sinned never so greatly, nor never so sore, nor never so oft, nor never so long continued therein — we have open exsample in Peter that denied Christ; in Paul that pursued Holy Church; in Matthew and Zaccheus, the publicans; in Mary Maudeleyn, the sinful woman, [in the woman] that was taken in adultery; in the thief that hung on the cross beside Christ; in Mary Egyptian; and in innumerable other grievous and great sinners.


III. The Third Temptation is Impatience, which is against charity, by which we are bound to love God above all things. For they that be in sickness, in their death bed suffer surpassing  great pain and sorrow, and woe; and especially they that die not by nature and course of age — that happens right seldom, as open experience teaches men — but die often through an accidental sickness; as a fever, a tumor, and such other grievous and painful and long sickness. Which many men, and especially those that be unprepared to die and die against their will and lack very charity, makes so impatient and murmuring, that other at times, through woe and impatience, they become wood [i.e. frenzied] and witless, as it has been seen in many men. And so by that it is open and certain that they that die in that way fail and lack true charity. Witnessing Saint Jerome  who says thus: si quis cum dolore egritudinem vel mortem susceperit, signum est quod deus sufficienter non diligit. That is: “WHoever takes sickness or death with sorrow or displeasure of heart, it is an open and a certain sign that he does not love God sufficiently.” Therefore in order that man that will die well, it is needful that he murmur not in no manner of sickness that falls to him before his death, or in his dying — be it never so painful or grievous — long time [or short time] dying; for as Saint Gregory witnesses in his Morals: Justa sunt cuncta que patimur, et ideo valde injustum est si de justa passione murmuramus. “All things that we suffer, we suffer then rightfully [and therefore we are very unrighteous if we murmur concerning what we suffer rightfully].” Then every man should be patient, as Saint Luke says: In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras. “In your patience ye shall possess your souls.” (Lk 21:19) For by patience man’s soul is surely had and kept, so by impatience and murmuring it is lost and damned. Witnessing Saint Gregory in his Homily, that says thus: Regnum caelorum nullus murmurans accipit, nullus qui accipit murmurare potest. “There shall no man have the kingdom of heaven that murmurs and is impatient;” and there may no man murmur that has it. But as the great Clerk Albert says, speaking contrition: If a very contrite man offers himself gladly to all manner afflictions of sickness and punishing of his sins, that he may thereby satisfy God worthily for his offences, much more then every sick man should suffer patiently and gladly his own sickness alone, that is lighter without comparison than many sicknesses that other men suffer; especially  that sickness before a man’s death is as a purgatory to him, when it is suffered as it ought; that is to understand, if it be suffered patiently, gladly, and with a free and a kind will of heart. For the same clerk Albert says: We have need to have a free, kind will to God, not only in such things as be to our consolation, but also in such things as be to our affliction. And ^aint Gregory says: divina dispensatione agitur, ut prolixiori vicio prolixior egritudo adhibeatur. “It is done by the disposition and rightful ordinance of God that to the longer sin is ordained the longer sickness.” And therefore let every sick man, and especially he that shall die, say as Saint Augustine said to God: hic seca, his ure, ut in eternam michi parcas. “Here Cut, here burn, so that You spare me everlastingly.” And Saint Gregory says: Misericors deus temporalem adhibet severitatem, ne eternam inferat ultionem. “God that is merciful gives His chosen children temporal punition here, lest He give them everlasting vengeance elsewhere.”

This temptation of impatience fights against charity, and without charity may no men be saved. And therefore, as Saint Paul says: caritas paciens est, omnia suffert. (1Cor 13.4) “Very charity is patient, and suffers all things.” And in these words it is notable to be marked that he spake of suffering of all things, without exception. Then should all sicknesses of the body by reason be suffered patiently, without murmuration and difficulty. And therefore, as Saint Augustine says: Amanti nichil impossibile, nichil difficile. “To him that loves there is nothing hard, nor anything impossible.”


IV. The Fourth Temptation is Complacence, or pleasance of a man that he has in himself; that is spiritual pride, with the which the devil tempts and beguiles most religious, and devout and perfect men. For when the devil sees that he may not bring a man out of faith, nor may not induce him into despair, neither to impatience, then he assailes him by complacence of himself, putting such manner temptations in his heart: O how stable are you in the faith ! how strong in hope ! how sad in patience ! O how many good deeds have you done ! and such other thoughts. But against these temptations Isidore says thus: Non te arroges, non te jactes, non te insolenter extollas, vel de te presumas, nichil boni tibi tribuas. “Nor boast you not, nor avaunt you not proudly, not make not much of yourself wantonly, nor ascribe goodness to yourself”; for a man may have so much delectation in such manner of complacence of himself that a man should be damned everlastingly therefore.

And therefore says Saint Gregory: quis reminiscendo bona que gessit, dum se apud se erigit, apud auctorem humilitatis cadit. “A man that thinks on (the) good deeds that he has done, and is proud thereof of himself within himself, he falls down anon  before Him that is author of meekness.” And therefore he that shall die must beware when he feels himself tempted with pride, that then he [low and] meek himself thinking on his sins: and that he never knew whether he be worthy everlasting love or hate, that is to say, salvation or damnation. Nevertheless, lest he despair, he must lift up his heart to God by hope, thinking and revolving ‘ stably that the mercy of God is above all His works, and that God is true in all His words, and that He is truth and righteousness that never beguiles, neither is beguiled, which vowed and swore by Himself, and said by the Prophet: Vivo ego, dixit dominus, nolo mortem peccatoris, etc. God Almighty says: “By my self I wish not the death neither the damnation of any sinful man, but that he convert himself to Me and be saved.” (Ezek 33.11) Every man should follow Saint Antony to whom the devil said: “Antony, you have overcome me; for when I would have you up by pride, you kept yourself down by meekness; and when I would draw you down by desperation, you kept yourself up by hope.” Thus should every man do, sick and whole, and then is the devil overcome.


[5. ATTACHMENT (to temporalities) / DETACHMENT]

V. The Fifth [Temptation] that tempts and grieves most carnal men and secular men, that be in overmuch occupation, and business outward about temporal things; that is their wives, their children, their carnal friends, and their worldly riches, and other things that they have loved inordinately before. For he that will die well and surely must utterly and fully put away out of his mind all temporal and outward things, and fully  commit himself all to God. And therefore the great clerk Dons [Scotus] says thus, in the fourth book of sentences  “What man that is sick, when he sees that he shall die, if he put his will thereto to die wilfully, and consents fully unto death, as though he has chose himself the pain of death voluntarily, and so suflers death patiently, he satisfies to God for all venial sins; and therefore  he takes away a parcel of satisfaction that he ought to do for deadly sins.” And therefore it is right profitable, and full necessary in such a point of need, that a man conform his will to God’s will in all things, as every man ought, both sick and whole. But it is seldom seen that any secular or carnal man — or religious either — will dispose himself to death; or furthermore, that is worse, will hear anything of the matter of death; [though indeed he be labouring fast to his endward, hoping that he shall escape the death and] that is the most perilous thing, and most inconvenient that may be in Christian man, as says the worthy clerk Cantor Pariensis [Peter Cantor]: But it is to be noted well that the devil in all these temptations abovesaid may compel no man, nor in no manner of wise prevail against him for to consent to him — as long as a man has the use of reason with him — unless he will wilfully consent unto him; that every good Christian man, and also every sinful man — be he never so great a sinner — ought to beware of above all things. For the Apostle says: fidelis deus qui non patietur vos temptari supra id quod ‘spotestis, sed faciet etiam cum temptatione proventum ut possitis sustinere. “God,” he says, “is true, and will not suffer you to be tempted more than ye may bear; but He will give you such support in your temptations that ye may bear them.” (1 Cor 10/13)

Whereupon says the gloss: God is true in His promises, and gives us grace to withstand mightily, manly, and perseverantly; giving us might that we be not overcome, grace to get us merit, steadfastness to overcome with. He gives such increase of virtue that we may suffer and not fail nor fall; and that is by meekness. For as Saini Austin says: They break not in the furnace that have not the wind of pride. Therefore (let) every man, rightful and sinful, bow himself, and submit himself fully unto the mighty hand of God; and with His help he shall surely get and have the victory in all manner of temptations, evils, and sorrows, and of death thereto.




Now follow the interrogations of them that draw to the death, while they have reason with them and their speech. For this cause if any man is not fully disposed to die, he may the better be informed and comforted [thereto]. And as Satit Anselm the bishop says and teacheth, these interrogations should be had unto them that be in that plight. First ask him this:

Brother, are you glad that you shall die in the faith of Christ ?
The sick man answers: Yes.

Do you know well that you have not done as you should have done ?
He answers: Yes.

Do you repent thereof? He answers: Yes.

Have you full will to amend yourself, if you might have full space of life ? He answers: Yes.

Do you fully believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died for you ? He says: Yes.

Do you thank Him for this with all your  heart ?
He answers: Yes.

Do you truly believe that you cannot be saved but by Christ’s [death and His] passion ?
He answers: Yes.

Then thank Him thereof ever, while your soul is in your body, and put all your trust in His passion and in His death only, having trust in no other thing. To this death commit yourself fully.  In His death wrap all yourself fully; and if it come to your mind, or by your  enemy it be put into your mind, that God will deem you, say thus:

Lord, I put the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ between me and my evil deeds, between me and the judgment; otherwise will I not strive with You.

If He says: You have deserved damnation; you say again: The death of our Lord Jesus Christ I put between me and my evil merits, and the merits of His worthy passion I offer for merits I should have had, and alas I have not. Say also: Lord, put the death of my Lord Jesus Christ between me and your righteousness.

Then let him say this thrice. in manus tuas, domine, etc. “Into your  hands. Lord, I commit my soul.” And let the convent[ual] say the same. And if he cannot speak, let the convent[ual]— or they that stand about — say thus: in manus tuas, domine, commendamus spiritum eius, etc. “Into Your  hands, Lord, we commend his soul.” And thus he dies surely; and he shall not die everlastingly.

But though these interrogations above may be competent and sufficient to religious and devout persons, nevertheless all Christian men, both secular and religious, after the doctrines of the noble Clerk the Chancellor of Paris in their last end should be examined, enquired, and informed, more certainly and clearly, of the state and the health of their souls.

I. And First thus: Do you fully believe all the principal articles of the faith; and also all Holy Scripture in all things, after the exposition of the holy and true doctors of Holy Church; and forsake all heresies and errors and opinions damned by the Church; and are glad also that you shall die in the faith of Christ, and in the unity and obedience of Holy Church ?

The sick man answering: Yes.

II. The Second Interrogation shall be this: Do you acknowledge that often times, and in many different ways, and grievously, you have offended your Lord God Who made you from nothing ? For Saint Bernard says upon Cantica canticorum: “I know well that there may no man be saved unless he know himself; of which knowing waxes in a man humility, that is the mother of his health, and also the dread of God, the which dread, as it is the beginning of wisdom, so it is the beginning of health of man’s soul.”

He answers: Yes.

III. The Third Interrogation shall be this: are you sorry in heart of all manner of sins that you have done against the high Majesty, and the Love of God, and the Goodness of God; and of all the goodness that you have not done, and mightest have done; and of all graces that you have neglected — not only for dread of death, or any other pain, but rather [i.e. sooner] more for love of God and His righteousness — and for you have displeased His great goodness and kindness; and for the due order of charity, by the which we be bound to love God above all things; and of all these things you ask the forgiveness of God? Do you also desire in your  heart to have true knowledge of all your  offences and forgets that you have done against God, and to have special repentance of them all ? [Optas insuper cor tuum illuminari ad oblitorum cognitionem ut de eis specialiter valias penitere].

He answers: Yes.

IV. The Fourth Interrogation shall be this: Do you truly intend, and are in full will, to amend yourself if you might live longer; and never to sin more, deadly, wittingly, and with your will: and rather than you would offend God deadly any more, to leave and lose wilfully all earthly things, were they ever so dear to you, and also the life of your body thereto ? And furthermore you pray God that He give you grace to continue in this purpose ?

He answers: Yes.

V. The Fifth Interrogation shall be this: Do you forgive fully in your  heart all manner men that ever have done you any manner harm or grievance unto this time, either in word or in deed, for the love and worship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom you hope of forgiveness yourself; and ask also yourself to have forgiveness of all [them you have offended in any] manner wise ?

He answers: Yes.

VI. The Sixth Interrogation shall be this: Will you that all manner things that you have in any manner wise misgotten, be fully restored again, — so much as you may, and are bound, after the value of your goods; and rather leave and forsake all the goods of the world, if you may not in none other wise ?

He answers: Yes.

VII. The Seventh Interrogation shall be this: Do you believe fully that Christ died for you, and that you may never be saved but by the mercy of Christ’s passion; and thank you God thereof with all your  heart, as much as you may ?

He answers: Yes,

Whoso may verily, of very good conscience and truth, Without any feigning, answer Yes to the foresaid seven interrogations, he has an evident argument enough of health of his soul, that, and he died so, he shall be of the number of them that shall be saved.

Whosoever is not asked of another of these seven interrogations when he is in such peril of death — for there be right few that have the knowledge of this craft of dying — he must remember himself in his soul, and ask himself, and subtly feel and consider, whether he be so disposed as it is above said, or no.

For without that a man be disposed in such wise finally, he may not doubtless  be saved everlastingly. And what man that is disposed as is abovesaid, let him commend and commit himself, all in fear, fully to the passion of Christ; and continually — as much as he may, and as his sickness will suffer him — think on the passion of Christ; for thereby all the devil’s temptations and guiles be most overcome and voided.




Furthermore, forasmuch as Saint Gregory says: Every doing of Christ is our instruction and teaching; therefore such things as Christ did dying on the cross, the same should every man do at his last end, after his knowledge and power. And Christ did five things on the cross. He prayed, for He said these psalms: Deus, Deus meus, respice in me (Ps 24.16); and all the psalms following unto that verse: In manus tuas, Domine. (Ps 30.6) Also He cried on the cross, as the apostle testifies. Also He wept on the cross. Also He committed His soul to the Father on the cross. Also wilfully He gave up the ghost on the cross.

First He prayed on the cross. So a sick man, that is in point of death, he should pray; especially in his heart, if he may not with his mouth. For Saint Isidore says: That it is better to pray still in the heart, without any sound of voice outward, than to pray with word alone, without devotion of heart.

The second was He cried. So should every man in his dying cry strongly with the heart, not with the voice. For God takes more heed of the desire of the heart than of the crying of the voice. The crying of the heart to God is nothing else but the great desiring of man to have forgiveness of his sins, and to have everlasting life.

The third was He wept. With His bodily eyes and with tears of the heart, in token that so should every man in His dying weep with tears of his heart, that is to say, verily repenting of all his misdeeds.

The fourth He commended His soul to God. So should every man in his end, saying thus in heart and mouth, if he may, and (if not) else in heart: Lord God, into Your  hands I commend my spirit; for truly You bought me dear.

The fifth was He gave up wilfully His spirit. So should every man in his death; that is to say, he should die wilfully, conforming fully therein his own will to God’s will, as he is bound.

Therefore as long as he that is in point of death may speak, and have the use of reason with him, let him say these prayers following:


O You High Godhead, and endless Goodness, most merciful and glorious Trinity, Who are highest Love and Charity; have mercy on me, wretched and sinful man, for to you I commend fully my soul.


My Lord God, most benign Father of mercy, do your mercy to me your poor creature. Help now Lord my needy and desolate soul in her last need, that hell hounds devour me not. Most sweetest and most lovely Lord, my Lord Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son, for the worship and the virtue of your most blessed passion, admit and receive me within the number of your chosen people. My Saviour and my Redemptor, I yield all myself fully unto your grace and mercy, forsake me not; to you Lord I come, put me not away. Lord Jesus Christ, I ask your paradise and bliss, not for the worthiness of my deserving that am but dust and ashes and a sinful wretch, but through the virtue and effect of Your  holy passion, by the which You vouchest safe, and wouldest buy me, sinful wretch, with your precious blood, and bring me into your paradise.

And let him say often also this verse:

Dirupisti domine vincula mea, tibi sacrificabo hostiam laudis et nomen domini invocabo. “Lord You have broken my bonds, and therefore I shall thank you with the sacrifice and the oblation of worship.”

For this verse, as Cassiodorus says, is of great virtue that a man’s sins be forgiven him, if it be said thrice with good true faith at a man’s last end.


Lord Jesus Christ, for the bitterness that You sufferedest for me on the cross, and most in that hour when your most blessed soul passed out of your body, have mercy on my soul in her strait passing.

Also afterwards, with all the instance and devotion that he may, with heart and mouth let him cry to Our Lady, Saint Mary, that is most speedful, and most remedious speed and help of all sinful men to God, saying thus:


O GLORIOUS Queen of Heaven, Mother of mercy, and refuge of all sinful men; reconcile me to your sweet Son, my Lord Jesu, and pray for me sinful wretch, to His great mercy, that for love of you, sweet Lady, He will forgive me my sins.

Then let him pray to angels, saying thus:

Holy Angels of Heaven, I beseech you that ye will assist to me that shall now pass out of this world, and mightily deliver me and keep me from all mine enemies, and take my soul into your blessed company; and especially you my good angel, that have been my continual keeper, ordained of God.

Then let him pray the same wise, devoutly, to all the apostles, martyrs, and confessors, and virgins — and specially to those saints which he loved and worshipped most specially in his health — that they would help him then in his last end and most need. Afterwards let him say thrice, or more, these words, or like in sentence, the which be ascribed unto Saint Justin:

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the virtue of His passion; and the sign of the holy cross; and the maidenhead of Our Lady, Saint Mary; and the blessing of all Saints; and the keeping of all Angels; and the suffrages of all the chosen people of God; be between me and mine enemies, visible and invisible, in this hour of my death. Amen.

Afterward let him say this verse:

Largire clarum vespere
quo vita nusquam decidat,
sed premium mortis sacre,
perennis instet gloria

“Grant me Lord a clear end,
that my soul fall never downwards;
but give me everlasting bliss,
that is the reward of holy dying.”

And if he that is sick does not know all these prayers, or may not say them for grievousness or sickness, let some man that is about him say them before him, as he may clearly hear him say them, changing the words that ought to be changed in his saying. And he that is dying, as long as he has use of reason, let him pray devoutly within himself, with his heart and his desire, as he can and may, and so yield the ghost up to God; and he shall be safe.





But it is greatly to be noted, and to be taken heed of, that right seldom (that) any man — Yes among religious and devout men — dispose themselves to death betimes as they ought. For every man believes to live long, and imagines not that he shall die in short time; and doubtless that comes of the devil’s subtle temptation. And often times it is seen openly that many men, through such idle hope and trust, have been slothful and have died intestate, or unavised, or unprepared, suddenly. And therefore every man that has love and dread of God, and a zeal of [the heal of] man’s soul, let him busily induce and warn every of his even Christians that are sick, or in any peril of body or of soul, that principally and first, over all other things, and Without delays and long tarryings, he diligently provide and ordain for the spiritual remedy and medicine of his soul.

For often times, as a certain decretal says, bodily sickness cometh of the sickness of the soul; and therefore the Pope in the same decretal chargeth straitly every bodily physician that he give no sick man any bodily medicine unto the time that he has warned and induced him to seek his spiritual physician. [Gratian, De penitentia, “cum infirmitate”)

But this counsel is now lazily ignored by almost all men, and is turned into the contrary; for men seek sooner and busier after medicines for the body than for the soul. Also all our evils and adversities, by righteous doom of God, cometh evermore to men for sins; as the Prophet witnesseth, that says thus: Non est malum in civitate, quod deus non fecit. “There is none evil in the city, but God do it.” You shall not understand that God does the evil of the sin, but yields the punishing for sin.

Therefore every sick man, and every other man that is in any peril, should be diligently induced and exhorted that he make himself, before all other things, peace with God; receiving spiritual medicines, that is to say the sacraments of Holy Church; ordaining and making his testament; and lawfully disposing for his household, and other needs, if he has any to dispose for. And there should not be given first to no man too much hope of bodily heal. But the contrary thereof is now often times done of many men, into great peril of souls; and especially of them that actually and openly be drawing and in point hastily to die, for none of them will hear anything of death.

And so as the great Clerk, the Chancellor of Paris says: Often times by such a [vain and a] false cheering and comforting, and feigned promise of bodily health, and trusting thereupon, men run and fall into certain damnation everlastingly. And therefore a sick man should be counselled and exhorted to provide and procure himself his soul’s heal by very contrition and confession — and if it be expedient for him, that shall greatly avail to his bodily heal; and so he shall be most quiet and sure.

And forasmuch, witnessing Saint Gregory as a man has seldom very contrition, and as Sainf Augustine says also, in the fourth Book of Sentences, the twentieth distinction, and other doctors also: Repentance that is deferred, and had in a man’s last end, is seldom true repentance or penance sufficient to everlasting health. And specially in them that all their time before neither the commandments of God nor their voluntary avows kept not effectually nor truly, but only feignedly and to the outward seeming.

Therefore to every such man that is in such case and is come to his last end, is to be counselled busily that he labour, with reason of his mind after his power, to have ordinate and very repentance; that is to mean — notwithstanding the sorrow and grievance of sickness, and dread that he has of hasty death — that he use reason as much as he may, and enforce himself to have, wilfully, full displeasing of all sin, for the due end and perfect intent that is for God; and withstand his evil natural inclining to sin, though he might live longer, and also the delectations of his sins before; and labour as much as he may to have a very displeasure of them, though it be never so short. And lest he fall into despair tell him, and arm him with such things as be said above, in the second part, of temptation of Desperation. Exhort him also that he be strong in his soul against other temptations that be put and told, also mightily and manly withstand them all; for he may not be compelled by the devil to consent to none of them all. Let him also be charged  and counselled that he die as a very true Christian man, and in full belief.

Also it is to be considered whether he be involved with any censures of Holy Church; and if he be let him be taught that he submit himself with all his might to the ordinance of Holy Church, that he may be assoiled. Also, if he that shall die have long time and space to be-think himself, and be not taken with hasty death, then may be read afore him, of them that be about him, devout histories and devout prayers, in the which he most delighted in when he was in heal; or rehearse to him the commandments of God, that he may be-think him the more profoundly if he may find in himself that he has negligently trespassed against them.

And if the sick man has lost his speech, and yet he has full knowledge of the interrogations that be made to him, or the prayers that be rehearsed before him, then only with some outer sign, or with consent of heart, let him answer thereto. Nevertheless it is greatly to be charged and urged that the interrogations be made to him or he lose his speech; for if his answers be not likely, and seemeth not in all sides to be sufficient to full heal and perpetual remedy of his soul, then must he put thereto remedy and counsel in the best manner that it may be done.

Then there shall be told unto him plainly the peril that he should fall in, though he should and would be greatly frightened thereof. It is better and more rightful that he be compunctious and repentant, with wholesome fear and dread, and so be saved, than that he be damned with flattering and false dissimulation; for it is too inconsistent and contrary to Christian religion, and too devil-like, that the peril of death and of soul — for any vain dread of a man, lest he were at all troubled thereby — shall be hid from any Christian man or woman that should die. But Isaiah the Prophet did the contrary; for when the King Ezechiel lay sick and upon the point of death, he flattered him not, nor used no dissimulation unto him, but plainly and wholesomely frightened him, saying that he should die; and yet nevertheless he died not at that time. And Saint Gregory also wholesomely frightened the monk that was procurator, as it is read in the fourth Book of his Dialogues.

Also present to the sick the image of the crucifix; the which should evermore be about sick men, or else the image of our Lady, or of some other saint the which he loved or worshipped in his heal. Also let there be holy water about the sick; and sprinkle often times upon him, and the others that be about him, that fiends may be expelled from him.

If all things abovesaid may not be done, for suddenness and shortness of time, then put forth prayers; and especially such as be directed to our Saviour, specially Our Lord Jesus Christ. When man is in point of death, and hastens quickly to his end, then should no carnal friends, nor wife, nor children, nor riches, nor no temporal goods, be reduced unto his mind, neither be communed of before him; only as much as spiritual health and profit of the sick man asks and requires.

In this matter that is of our last and most great need, all manner of points and sentences [i.e. meanings] thereof, and adverbs also that be put thereto, should most subtly and diligently be charged and considered of every man;  forasmuch as there shall no man be rewarded for his words alone, but for his deeds also joined and according to his words. As it is said in the book cleped Compendium of the Truth of Divinity, the second book, the tenth chapter: That what man that lusteth, and will gladly die well and surely and meritorily, without peril, he must take heed visibly, and study and learn diligently this craft of dying, and the dispositions thereof abovesaid, while he is in heal; and not abide till the death entereth in him.

For sooth, dear sister or brother, I tell you sooth, believe me thereof, that when death or great sickness falleth upon you, devotion passeth out from you; and the more near they take you and grip you, the further fleeth devotion from you. Sicker this is sooth, I know it by experience; for in sooth you shall have little devotion if you be sore touched with sickness. Therefore if you will not be deceived or err — if you will be sure — do busily what you may while you are in heal, and have the use and freedom of your five wits and reason well disposed, and while you may be master of yourself and of your deeds.

O Lord God how many, Yes without number, (that) have abiden so to their last end have forslothed and deceived themselves everlastingly. Take heed, brother or sister, and beware, if ye list, lest it happen you in the same wise. But let no man wonder, nor think that it is inconvenient that so great charge and diligence and wise disposition and providence, and busy exhortation should be had and ministered to them that be in point of death, and in their last end — as it is abovesaid — for they be in such peril and in so great need at that time, that, and it were possible, all a city should come together with all haste to a man that is nigh to the death or dying; as the manner is in some religious,* in which it is ordained that when a sick man is nigh the death, then every of the brothers shall, when they hear the table [i,e, board instead of a bell] smitten — what hour that ever it be, and where that ever they be — all things being left, haveily come to him that is a-dying. Therefore it is read that religious people and women — for the honesty of estate — should not run but to a man that is a-dying and for fire.*



Last of all it is to be known that the prayers that follow may be conveniently said upon a sick man that laboureth to his end. And if it is a religious person, then when the convent is gathered together with smiting of the table, as the manner is, then shall be said first the litany, with the psalms and orisons that be used therewith. Afterward, if he live yet, let some man that is about him say the orisons that follow * hereafter, as the time and opportunity will suffer. And they may be often rehearsed again to excite the devotion of the sick man — if he have reason and understanding with him.

But nevertheless this ought not to be done of necessity, as though he might not be saved unless it were done; but for the profit and devotion of the sick that labours to his endward it may, and it is well done, that it be done so. But among seculars that be sick let these prayers be said; as the devotion and disposition, and the profit of them and others that be about them ask and require, and as the time will suffice.

But alas there be full few, not only among seculars but also in diverse religious that have the knowledge of this craft, and will be nigh and assist to them that be in point of death and departing out of this world; asking them, and exhorting and informing and praying for them, as it is abovesaid — especially when they that be in dying would not, or hope not, to die yet, and so the sick men’s souls stand in great peril.

In these prayers, if you say them yourself, turn the words that should be turned, as you should do to say them yourself; for I write them as another should say them for you.

FOR that love that made you to be wounded and die for the heal and salvation of mankind, that were most worthy and most delicate,* Son ‘ of God, of your blessed Father of Heaven, and for our sake made Man; sweet Lord Jesu, full of mercy, forgive your servant that he has trespassed in thought, word, and deed, in all his affections, desires, motions, strengths, and wits of his soul and his body; and in very remission of them all forgive your servant that he has trespassed, give him that most sufficient amendment, by the which You wash away all the sins of the world, and in supplicion of all his negligences, and put to him that holy conversation that You had from the hour of your conception, unto the hour of your death; and furthermore the fruit of all good deeds, the which have pleased You, and shall please You, in all your chosen people from the beginning of the world unto the end thereof. Sweet Lord Jesus, which live and reign with your Father and with the Holy Ghost, one very God Without end. Amen.

For the union of the most fervent love that stirred and made you — life of all things that is living — to be incarnate of our Lady, and with great anguish of your spirit to die for charity and the love of us; we cry to the root of your most benign heart ^ that You forgive the soul of your servant all his sins; and with your most holy conversation and most worthy merit of your passion fulfil all his negligences and omissions, and make him to feel by experience the most superabundant greatness of your mercies, and us all; and specially this person, our brother, the which You have disposed haveily to be called before your gloriousMajesty — in the most pleasant manner to You, and most profitable to him and us all. Make him to be presented to You with sweet patience, very repentance, and full remission; with rightful faith, stable hope, and perfect charity; that he may die blessedly, in perfect state, between your most sweetest embracing and most sweetest kissing, in to Your  everlasting worship and praising. Amen.


Into the hands of Your  endless and unquenchable mercy, holy Father, rightful  and most beloved Father, we commend the spirit of our brother, your servant, after the greatness of love that the holy soul of your Blessed Son commended Himself to you on the cross; praying entirely that for that [same] inestimable charity that Your  Holy Godhead drew fully into Yourself that blessed soul of your Son, that now in his last hour You receive sweetly the spirit of our brother, your servant, in the same love. Amen.

Saint Michael, the Archangel of our Lord Jesus Christ, help us at * our high Judge. O you most worthy giant and protector, that may never be overcome, be nigh to our brother, your servant, labouring now sore in his end; and defend him mightily from the dragon of hell, and from all manner guile of wicked spirit. Furthermore we pray you, that are so clear and so worthy a minister of God, that in the last hour of the life of our brother you will receive the soul of him easily and benignly into your  holy ‘ bosom; and bring her into (the) place of refreshing and of peace, and of rest. Amen.

Ever clean and blessed maiden Mary, singular help and succour in every anguish and necessity, help us sweetly, and show to our brother, your servant, your glorious visage now in his last end. And void ^ all his enemies from him, through the virtue of your dear beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the holy Cross; and deliver him from all manner disease of body and soul, that he may thank and worship God Without end. Amen.

My most sweet Redemptor, most merciful Jesu, and most benign Lord, for that sorrowful voice that You had in your manhood when You should die for us, and were so consumed with sorrows and travails of your passion that You criedyou forsaken of your Father; be not far from your brother, Your servant, but give him Your  help, of your mercy, in the hour of his death; and have mind of the grievous affliction and pain of his soul, the which in his last hour of passing, for failing of his spirits, has no might to call upon you for help: but by the victory of the cross, and by virtue of Your  holy passion and Your  amorous death, think upon her thoughts of peace and not of affliction, but of mercy and comfort; and deliver her fully from all manner of anguishes. With the same hands that You didst suffer to be nailed on the cross for her sake with sharp nails, good Jesus and sweet Father, deliver her from the torments ordained for her, and bring her to everlasting bliss and rest, with a voice of exaltation and knowledging of your mercy. Amen.

Most merciful Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, for the union of the recommendation that You commend Your  holy soul to Your  heavenly Father, dying on the cross, we commend to Your ineffible pity the soul of our brother, your servant, praying your most merciful goodness that for all the worship and merit of your most holy soul, by the which all souls be saved and delivered from the debt of death. You have mercy upon the soul of our dear brother, your servant; delivering her mercifully from all miseries and pains, and for the love and mediation of your sweet Mother, bring her to contemplation of the joy of your most sweet and merciful sight everlastingly. Amen.

Merciful and benign God, That for the greatness of your mercy do away the sins of them that be verily repentant, and void the blames of sins that be passed and done before through grace of your forgiveness, we beseech that You look mercifully upon our brother, Thy servant, and graciously hear him asking, with all confession of his heart, remission of all his sins. Renew in him, most merciful Father, all thing that is corrupt in him by bodily frailty, or defouled with the fraud of the devil, and gather him to the unity of the body of Holy Church, and make him a member of Holy Redemption. Have mercy. Lord, upon his wailings, have mercy upon his tears, and admit to the sacrament of your reconciliation him that has no trust but upon your mercy; by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen,

Dear Brother, I commend you to Almighty God, and commit you to Him, Whose creature you art, that when your manhood has paid his debt by the mean of death, that you turn again to God your creature. That made you of the slime of the earth. When your soul passes out of your body, glorious companies of angels come against you: the victorious host, worthy judges, and senators of the holy apostles meet with you: the fair, white, shining company of holy confessors, with the victorious number of glorious martyrs, come about you: the joyful company of holy virgins receive you: and the worthy fellowship of holy patriarchs open to you the place of rest and joy, and deem you to be among them that they be among, everlastingly.

Know you never that (which) is horrible in darkness, that grinds in flaming fire. They that punish in torments give place to you, and grieve you not. They that follow Satan with all his servants, in the coming against you, be a-ghave at the presence of holy angels, and flee into darkness of everlasting night; into the great tribulous sea of hell. Our lord arises and His enemies be scattered about; and flee,. they that hate Him, from His visage. Fail s. they as the smoke faileth, and as the wax melteth against ‘ the fire, so perish sinners from the face of God; (Ps. 68.2) and let rightful men eat and rejoice in the sight of God. All the contrary legions and ministers of Satan be not hardy to let your journey. Christ deliver you from torment, that vouchsafed to die for you. Christ, God’s Son, bring you to the merry joys of Paradise, and the very Shepherd know you among His sheep. He assoil you from all your sins, and put you on His right side; in the sort of His chosen children, that you may see your Redemptor visage to visage, and presently assisting to Him, see with (thine) eyes the blessed everlasting truth openly; and among the blessed company of the children of God have you, and rejoice in the joy of the contemplation of God without end. Amen.


Go Christian Soul out of this world, in the Name of the Almighty Father that made you of nothing; in the Name of Jesus Christ, His Son, that suffered His passion for you; and in the Name of the Holy Ghost, that was infounded ^ into you. Holy angels. Thrones and Dominations, Princehoods, Protestates and Virtues, Cherubim and Seraphim, meet with you. Patriarchs and prophets, apostles and evangelists, martyrs, confessors, monks and hermits, maidens and widows, children and innocents, help you. The prayers of all priests and deacons, and all the degrees of Holy Church, help you; that in peace be your place, and your dwelling in heavenly Jerusalem everlastingly; by the mediation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that is Mediator between God and man. Amen.

The End of the Useful Treatise on the Art of Dying

Explicit tractatus utilissimus de arte moriendl



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