Magisterial Documents: Dives in Misericordia

Encyclical on the Mercy of God Pope John Paul II
30 November 1980

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

In the third year of Pope John Paul II's papacy, he wrote extensively on Mary's share in God's mercy, as revealed in her Magnificat. In the numbered document (as published on the Internet source, New Advent) eleven paragraphs focus on Mary as Mother of Mercy (41, 94-102, 124, 168). The Holy Father writes:

Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the Mother of Mercy: our Lady of Mercy, or Mother of Divine Mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which "from generation to generation" [Lk 1,50] people become sharers according to the eternal design of the Most Holy Trinity. (98)

The above titles which we attribute to the mother of God speak of her principally, however, as the mother of the crucified and risen one; as the one who, having obtained mercy in an exceptional way, in an equally exceptional way "merits" that mercy throughout her earthly life and, particularly, at the foot of the cross of her Son; and finally as the one who, through her hidden and at the same time incomparable sharing in the messianic mission of her Son, was called in a special way to bring close to people that love which he had come to reveal: the love that finds its most concrete expression vis-a-vis the suffering, the poor, those deprived of their own freedom, the blind, the oppressed and sinners, just as Christ spoke of them in the words of the prophecy of Isaiah, first in the synagogue at Nazareth. [cf. Lk 4,18]


I. He who sees me sees the Father (cf. Jn. 14:9)

The Revelation of Mercy 1

The Incarnation of Mercy 2

II. The Messianic Message

When Christ Began To Do and To Teach 3

III. The Old Testament

The Concept of "Mercy" in the Old Testament 4

IV. The Parable of the Prodigal Son

An Analogy 5
Particular Concentration on Human Dignity 6

V. The Paschal Mystery

Mercy Revealed in the Cross and Resurrection 7
Love More Powerful Than Death, More Powerful Than Sin 8
Mother of Mercy 9

VI. "Mercy...from Generation to Generation"

An Image of Our Generation 10
Sources of Uneasiness 11
Is Justice Enough? 12

VII. The Mercy of God in the Mission of the Church

The Church Professes the Mercy of God and Proclaims It 13
The Church Seeks To Put Mercy into Practice 14

VIII. The Prayer of the Church in Our Times

The Church Appeals to the Mercy of God 15


AAS 72 (1980): 1177-1269
St. Paul Editions, 1980, Vatican Translation

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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