Famous Last Wills and Testaments of Religious Figures

Some famous and bizarre last wills and testaments of religious figures including Pope John XXIII, Brigham Young and Mary Baker Eddy.

Cardinal de Richelieu French prelate and states-man Died: 1642

Last Will: The powerful minister of King Louis XIII left 1.5 million livres to his monarch, all of his considerable gold and silver to one favorite niece, and favored other nephews and nieces equally well. He pointedly excepted the Duchesse d'Enghien, who incurred his ire with her marriage. The cardinal's books were given to one nephew provided that a cleaner was hired, for 400 livres yearly, to sweep the library out daily and to wipe the books as often as necessary.

Brigham Young

Mormon Church leader

Died: 1877

Last Will: Young's will, accounting for $2.5 million in cash and real estate, provided for a distribution to 17 wives and 48 children. His dependents were carefully divided into 3 "classes": wives with children, wives without children, and children of deceased wives. No mention was made of women who had been "sealed" to the polygamous leader by Mormon Church rituals. Young defined, for purposes of the will's coverage, the term "wife."

Mary Baker Eddy

Founder of Christian Science religion

Died: 1910

Last Will: In previous gifts Mrs. Eddy gave her son, George W. Glover, $245,000 and her adopted son, Ebenezer J. Foster, $45,000. Her will left an estate of at least $2 million to the Mother Church of Boston, the parent church of Christian Science. Her sons contested the will without success. Eddy also left $10,000 to each of her grandchildren, and $100,000 to be set up as a trust fund for the education of Christian Science practitioners.

Anthony Comstock

American morals crusader

Died: 1915

Last Will: The small estate of the "soldier of righteousness" included 2 insurance policies, valued at $3,000 each, his stamp collection, and the painting showing General Sheridan at Cedar Creek.

Pope John XXIII

Head of Roman Catholic Church

Died: 1963

Last Will: Reaffirmed his faith and his gratitude for the honors given to him by the Church. He expressed 2 earthly wishes: that his own family attend his burial service, and, in a codicil, that the Lateran Palace transformation, into the Holy See of the Roman Vicarate, be completed.

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