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Vatican City (AP)

Pope's Final Moments Included Mass

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican celebrated a Mass for Pope John Paul II and he received the sacrament for the sick and dying for the second time this week in the 97 minutes before he died on Saturday, the Holy See said in a statement.

The Vatican said a Mass for the Sunday feast of Divine Mercy was celebrated starting at 8 p.m. by his faithful private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Ukrainian Cardinal Marian Jaworski and two Polish prelates.

The sacrament for the sick and dying, formerly known as last rites, was administered, along with Viaticum, or communion received when death appears imminent.

Present at the moment of death were his two secretaries, Dziwisz and Monsignor Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Cardinal Jaworski, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, the Rev. Tadeusz Styczen, three nuns who assist the pope and their superior, Sister Tobiana Sobodka.

The pope's personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, with the two doctors on call, Dr. Alessandro Barelli and Dr. Ciro D'Allol, and two nurses on call, also were present.

John Paul also received the sacrament on Thursday evening, when his condition began rapidly deteriorating. The sacrament is performed both for patients at the point of death and for those who are very sick - and it may be repeated.

Immediately after his death came the required officials: Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's No. 2 official, as well as the camerlengo, or chamberlain, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo; Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the Argentine cleric who is undersecretary of state and who became John Paul's official voice for the public after his throat surgery; and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, deputy camerlengo.

After them came Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko, an old friend.

The Vatican noted that the pope's final hours were marked by the "uninterrupted prayer of all those who were assisting him in his pious death and by the choral participation in prayer of the thousands of faithful who for many hours had been gathered in St. Peter's Square.

(Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

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