Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), was a French mathematician and scientist. In 1654, after months of severe depression, he had a spiritual experience which led him to enter a Jansenist monastery. During his life he did not discuss the experience of 1654, but at his death, the following account, now known as “the Memorial” was found sewn into his jacket. During his life, Pascal published only, under a pseudonym, some polemics against the Jesuits. Later, however, in 1670, a collection of his notes on religious topics was published under the title, Pensées (“Thoughts”). The rhetorical device known as “Pascal’s Wager” is from Pensées, along with numerous fragments of religious thinking which have influenced such diverse characters as Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and Kierkegaard, the Danish Existentialist.

In contrast with the polished, flowing French of the Pensées, the “Memorial” is a smattering of exclamations and quotations, in French and Latin, which was obviously never intended to be read by anyone but Pascal himself.

The Memorial


The year of grace 1654,
Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology.
Vigil of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, and others.
From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight,


GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day's exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.

French/Latin original


L'an de grâce 1654,

Lundi, 23 novembre, jour de saint Clément, pape et martyr, et autres au martyrologe.
Veille de saint Chrysogone, martyr, et autres,
Depuis environ dix heures et demie du soir jusques environ minuit et demi,


« DIEU d'Abraham, DIEU d'Isaac, DIEU de Jacob »
non des philosophes et des savants.
Certitude. Certitude. Sentiment. Joie. Paix.
DIEU de Jésus-Christ.
Deum meum et Deum vestrum.
« Ton DIEU sera mon Dieu. »
Oubli du monde et de tout, hormis DIEU.
Il ne se trouve que par les voies enseignées dans l'Évangile.
Grandeur de l'âme humaine.
« Père juste, le monde ne t'a point connu, mais je t'ai connu. »
Joie, joie, joie, pleurs de joie.
Je m'en suis séparé:
Dereliquerunt me fontem aquae vivae.
« Mon Dieu, me quitterez-vous ? »
Que je n'en sois pas séparé éternellement.
« Cette est la vie éternelle, qu'ils te connaissent seul vrai Dieu, et celui que tu as envoyé, Jésus-Christ. »
Je m'en suis séparé; je l'ai fui, renoncé, crucifié.
Que je n'en sois jamais séparé.
Il ne se conserve que par les voies enseignées dans l'Évangile:
Renonciation totale et douce.
Soumission totale à Jésus-Christ et à mon directeur.
Éternellement en joie pour un jour d'exercice sur la terre.
Non obliviscar sermones tuos. Amen.

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