"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Pope Francis on United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld (29 July 1905—18 September 1961)

Dag Hammarskjöld in 1955
Ullstein bild / Getty Images

he quote “For all that has been, Thanks. To all that shall be, Yes!” often used by many leaders and spiritual writers alike came from Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld, Prime Minister of Sweden during World War I. He died sixty years ago on September 18, 1961 in a tragic and mysterious plane crash. During the State visit of Pope Francis in the United States, the pope addressed the United Nations (UN) on September 25, 2015. This was just the fifth time that a sitting pope visited the United Nations' headquarters. He followed in the footsteps of his predecessors St Paul VI, in 1965, St John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and his recent predecessor, Benedict XVI, in 2008. He said, "I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities." He made mention of the second UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, who held the position in 1953-1961. Pope Francis said,
"In particular, I would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among peoples, from Dag Hammarskjöld to the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions of peace and reconciliation.he gave his life “for peace and reconciliation among peoples."
So what happened to Hammarskjöld? During his post-World-War-II stint as the second UN Secretary-General, Mr Hammarskjöld used his good offices in a range of situations to prevent war and serve the noble aims of the Charter. United Nations Force in Congo Africa was established and the Secretary-General himself made four trips to supervise the United Nations peacekeepers who were involved to an invaluable extent in the prevention of a full scale civil war. On his fourth trip in September 1961, Dag Hammarskjöld was en route to Léopoldville to personally check out a cease-fire negotiation when the aircraft he was flying in crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Hammarskjöld and fifteen others perished in the crash. Among his accomplishments, Mr Hammarskjöld was responsible for the organization in 1955 and 1958 of the first and second United Nations International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, and for planning a United Nations conference, held after his death in 1962, on the application of science and technology for the benefit of the less developed areas of the world. His sixtieth death anniversary coincides with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the “Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy”—the very first brainchild of the nascent United Nations and which Mr Hammarskjöld rallied behind. Last year on September 25, 2020, Pope Francis heralded anew on continuing the efforts of the Institution which it started. In his most recent Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis underscores that a more just world is achieved by proactively promoting peace which is not merely the absence of war. On the seventy-fifth meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the occasion of the organization's seventy-fifth founding anniversary, the Holy Father delivered a video message:
"Indeed, as shown by conflicts worldwide, the use of explosive weapons, especially in populated areas, is having a dramatic long-term humanitarian impact. Conventional weapons are becoming less and less 'conventional' and more and more 'weapons of mass destruction', wreaking havoc on cities, schools, hospitals, religious sites, infrastructures and basic services needed by the population... Mr President, We must ask ourselves if the principal threats to peace and security—poverty, epidemics, terrorism and so many others—can effectively be countered when the arms race, including nuclear weapons, continues to squander precious resources that could better be used to benefit the integral development of peoples and protect the natural environment." 
On 24 January 1946, the General Assembly adopts its first resolution, entitled “Establishment of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy” in London. At the dawn of the atomic age, the 51 members of the newly-formed United Nations make it the first order of business to address the role for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons. (Source: Dag Hammarskjöld Library)

Tribute to Dag Hammarskjöld on his fiftieth death anniversary in 2011

Fr JM Manzano SJ



  1. As I read this, I remember some good people who also died in plane crash like Magsaysay and Robredo...Men with a heart for the people and for the common good... Thanks Fr. JM for this sharing... An addition to my bucket of history. Praying for our leaders to be like them. GBU!

    1. Thank you for your sharing on our fellow Filipinos Magsaysay and Robredo who are equally with heroic virtues. GBU!


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