The number of Saints who saw Purgatory and had contact with the souls who suffer there is surprising. Throughout the ages you could count hundreds of them. Most people today do not even believe in Purgatory, not to mention any help for the suffering souls. The principal causes of this are ignorance and lack of faith. Yet Purgatory does exist, and the sufferings that the poor souls experience there are very real.
The word Purgatory for some means a place, for others an intermediate state between Hell and Heaven. It is, properly speaking, the condition of souls which, at the moment of death, are in the state of grace, but which have not completely expiated their faults, nor “attained the degree of purity necessary to enjoy the vision of Almighty God”.
Saints who saw Purgatory …
St Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
Polish nun and mystic, known for her apparitions of Jesus Christ which inspired the devotion to the Divine Mercy and earned her the title of “Secretary of Divine Mercy”.
St. Faustina was once taken to Purgatory and this is what she witnesed;
“I saw my Guardian Angel, who ordered me to follow him. In a moment I was in a misty place full of fire in which there was a great crowd of suffering souls. They were praying fervently, but to no avail, for themselves; only we can come to their aid. The flames which were burning them did not touch me at all.
My Guardian Angel did not leave me for an instant. I asked these souls what their greatest suffering was. They answered me in one voice that their greatest torment was longing for God.
I saw Our Lady visiting the souls in Purgatory. The souls call her “The Star of the Sea.” She brings them refreshment. I wanted to talk with them some more, but my Guardian Angel beckoned me to leave. We went out of that prison of suffering. I heard an interior voice which said, My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it. Since that time, I am in closer communion with the suffering souls.”
Many souls appeared to St. Faustina especially those in her own Congregation asking for prayers. In one vision, St Faustina prayed for a sister who had died and who appeared to her in a terrible condition;
“One night, a sister who had died two months previously came to me. She was a sister of the first choir. I saw her in a terrible condition, all in flames with her face painfully distorted. This lasted only a short time, and then she disappeared. A shudder went through my soul because I did not know whether she was suffering in Purgatory or in hell. Nevertheless, I redoubled my prayers for her.
The next night she came again, but I saw her in an even more horrible state, in the midst of flames which were even more intense, and despair was written all over her face. I was astonished to see her in a worse condition after the prayers I had offered for her, and I asked, “Haven’t my prayers helped you?” She answered that my prayers had not helped her and that nothing would help her. I said to her, “And the prayers which the whole community has offered for you, have they not been any help to you?” She said no, that these prayers had helped some other souls. I replied, “If my prayers are not helping you, Sister, please stop coming to me.” She disappeared at once. Despite this, I kept on praying.
After some time she came back again to me during the night, but already her appearance had changed. There were no longer any flames, as there had been before, and her face was radiant, her eyes beaming with joy. She told me that I had a true love for my neighbor and that many other souls had profited from my prayers. She urged me not to cease praying for the souls in Purgatory, and she added that she herself would not remain there much longer. How astounding are the decrees of God! ”
Another time she was summoned to the judgment of God;
“I stood alone before the Lord. Jesus appeared such as we know Him during His Passion. After a moment, His wounds disappeared except for five, those in His hands, His feet and His side. Suddenly I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it. I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God. I did not know that even the smallest transgressions will have to be accounted for.
What a moment! Who can describe it? To stand before the Thrice-Holy God! Jesus asked me, Who are you? I answered, “I am Your servant, Lord.” You are guilty of one day of fire in Purgatory. I wanted to throw myself immediately into the flames of Purgatory, but Jesus stopped me and said, Which do you prefer, suffer now for one day in Purgatory or for a short while on earth? I replied, “Jesus, I want to suffer in Purgatory, and I want to suffer also the greatest pains on earth, even if it were until the end of the world.”
Jesus said, One [of the two] is enough; you will go back to earth, and there you will suffer much, but not for long; you will accomplish My will and My desires, and a faithful servant of Mine will help you to do this. Now, rest your head on My bosom, on My heart, and draw from it strength and power for these sufferings because you will find neither relief nor help nor comfort anywhere else. Know that you will have much, much to suffer, but don’t let this frighten you; I am with you.
It was reveled to St Faustina that there are souls specialy marked by God;
“When I had gone to the chapel for a moment, the Lord gave me to know that, among His chosen ones, there are some who are especially chosen, and whom He calls to a higher form of holiness, to exceptional union with Him. These are seraphic souls, from whom God demands greater love than He does from others. Although all live in the same convent, yet He sometimes demands of a particular soul a greater degree of love. Such a soul understands this call, because God makes this known to it interiorly, but the soul may either follow this call or not. It depends on the soul itself whether it is faithful to these touches of the Holy Spirit, or whether it resists them.
I have learned that there is a place in Purgatory where souls will pay their debt to God for such transgressions; this kind of torment is the most difficult of all. The soul which is specially marked by God will be distinguished everywhere, whether in heaven or in Purgatory or in hell.
In Heaven, it will be distinguished from other souls by greater glory and radiance and deeper knowledge of God.
In Purgatory, by greater pain, because it knows God more profoundly and desires Him more vehemently.
In Hell, it will suffer more profoundly than other souls, because it knows more fully whom it has lost. This indelible mark of God’s exclusive love, in the soul, will not be obliterated.”
Maria Simma (1915-2004)
Born in Austria, religious and mystical Catholic , known for her gift of receiving the visit of the souls of the Purgatory.
Since 1940 Maria Simma had regular visits from the souls in Purgatory to explain their sufferings and to ask for prayers and Masses to be released from Purgatory.
She was visited by a soul from Purgatory for a first time in 1940;
“One night, around 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, I heard someone coming into my bedroom… I saw a complete stranger. He walked back and forth slowly. I said to him severely: “How did you get in here? Go away! ” But he continued to walk impatiently around the bedroom as if he hadn’t heard. So I asked him again: “What are you doing?” But as he still didn’t answer, I jumped out of bed and tried to grab him, but I grasped only air.
There was nothing there. So I went back to bed, but again I heard him pacing back and forth. I wondered how I could see this man, but I couldn’t grab him. I rose again to hold onto him and to stop him from walking around; again, I grasped only emptiness.
Puzzled, I went back to bed. He didn’t come back, but I couldn’t get back to sleep. The next day, after Mass, I went to see my spiritual director and told him everything. He told me that if this should happen again, I shouldn’t ask, “Who are you?” but “What do you want from me?” The following night, the man returned. I asked him: “What do you want from me?” He replied: “Have three Masses celebrated for me, and I will be delivered.” So I understood that it was a soul in Purgatory. My spiritual director confirmed this. He also advised me never to turn away the poor souls, but to accept with generosity whatever they asked of me.“
Hope in the midst of their suffering;
“No soul would want to come back from Purgatory to the earth. They have knowledge which is infinitely beyond ours. They just could not decide to return to the darkness of the earth. Here we see the difference from the suffering that we know on earth. In Purgatory, even if the pain of the soul is just terrible, there is the certitude of living forever with God. It’s an unshakeable certitude. The joy is greater than the pain. There is nothing on earth which could make them want to live here again, where one is never sure of anything.”
“It is the soul itself which wants to go to Purgatory, in order to be pure before going to Heaven.”
“Our Lady comes often to console the souls in Purgatory and to tell them they have done many good
things. She encourages them.”
Charity covers a multitude of sins;
“The sins which most lead to Purgatory are sins against charity, against the love of one’s neighbor, hardness of heart,hostility, slandering, calumny — all these things.
Maria had been asked to find out if a woman and a man were in Purgatory. To the great astonishment of those who had asked, the woman was already in Heaven and the man was in Purgatory. In fact, this woman had died while undergoing an abortion, whereas the man often went to church and apparently led a worthy, devout life. So Maria searched for more information, thinking she’d been mistaken — but no, it was true. They had died at practically the same moment, but the woman had experienced deep repentance, and was very humble, whereas the man criticized everyone; he was always complaining and saying bad things about others. This is why his Purgatory lasted so long. And Maria concluded: “We mustn’t judge on appearances.”
Other sins against charity are all our rejections of certain people we do not like, our refusals to make peace, our refusals to forgive, and all the bitterness we store inside. Maria also illustrated this point with another example which gave us food for thought.
It’s the story of a woman she knew very well. This lady died and was in Purgatory, in the most terrible Purgatory, with the most atrocious sufferings. And when she came to see Maria, she explained why. She had had a female friend. Between them rose a great enmity, caused by herself. She had maintained this enmity for years and years, even though her friend had many times asked for peace, for reconciliation. But each time, she refused. When she fell gravely ill, she continued to close her heart, to refuse the reconciliation offered by her friend, right up to her deathbed.”
Most effective means to help deliver the souls in Purgatory;
“The most efficient means is the Mass. Why the Mass? Because it is Christ who offers Himself out of love for us. It is the offering of Christ Himself to God, the most beautiful offering. The priest is God’s representative, but it is God Himself who offers Himself and sacrifices Himself for us. The efficacy of the Mass for the deceased is even greater for those who attached great value to the Mass during their lives. If they attended Mass and prayed with all their hearts, if they went to Mass on weekdays — according to their time available — they drew great profit from Masses celebrated for them. Here, too, one harvests what one has sown.
A soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really pray for him, or if we have simply made an act of presence to show we were there. The poor souls say that tears are no good for them: only prayer! Often they complain that people go to a funeral without addressing a single prayer to God, while shedding many tears; this is useless!
There is another means, very powerful, to help the poor souls: the offering of our sufferings, our penances, such as fasting, renunciations, etc., — and of course, involuntary suffering, like illness or mourning.
Suffering for the poor souls, in order to deliver them;
“The first time, a soul asked me if I wouldn’t mind suffering for three hours in my body for her, and that afterwards I could resume working. I said to myself: “If it will all be over after three hours, I could accept it.” During those three hours, I had the impression that it lasted three days, it was so painful. But at the end, I looked at my watch, and I saw that it had only lasted three hours. The soul told me that by accepting that suffering with love for three hours, I had saved her twenty years of Purgatory!
It is because suffering on earth does not have the same value. On earth, when we suffer, we can grow in love, we can gain merits, which is not the case with the sufferings in Purgatory. In Purgatory, the sufferings serve only to purify us from sin. On earth, we have all the graces. We have the freedom to choose. All of this is so encouraging because it gives an extraordinary meaning to our sufferings.
The suffering which is offered, voluntary or involuntary, even the smallest sacrifices we can make, suffering or sickness, mourning, disappointments… if we live them with patience, if we welcome them in humility, these sufferings can have an unheard-of power to help souls.
The best thing to do is to unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, by placing them in the hands of Mary. She is the one who knows best how to use them, since often we ourselves do not know the most urgent needs around us. All this, of course, Mary will give back to us at the hour of our death. You see, these sufferings offered will be our most precious treasures in the other world. We must remind each other of this and encourage each other when we suffer.
Let me add something important: the souls in Purgatory can no longer doanything for themselves; they are totally helpless. If the living do not pray for them; they are totally abandoned. Therefore, it is very important to realize theimmense power, the incredible power that each one of us has in our hands to relieve these souls who suffer. We wouldn’t think twice about helping a child who has fallen in front of us from a tree, and who had broken his bones. Of course, we would do everything for him! So, in the same way, we should take great care of these souls who expect everything from us, attentive to the slightest offering, hopeful for the least of our prayers, to relieve them from their pain. And it might be the finest way to practice charity.”
St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi (1566-1607)
An Italian Carmelite nun and mystic. We read about her experience with the Purgatory in the “Life of St Magdalene de’ Pazzi”, written by her confessor, Father Cepari.
She was made witness of the deliverance of a soul under the following circumstances:
One of her sisters in religion had died some time previous, when the saint being one day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, saw issue from the earth the soul of that sister, still captive in the dungeons of Purgatory. She was enveloped in a mantle of flames, under which a robe of dazzling whiteness protected her from the fierce heat of the fire; and she remained an entire hour at the foot of the altar, adoring in nexpressible annihilation the hidden God of the Eucharist. This hour of adoration, which Magdalena saw her perform, was the last of her penance, that hour passed, she arose and took her flight to Heaven.
Some time before her death, which took placein 1607, St Magdalene, being one evening with several other Religious in the garden of the convent, was ravished in ecstasy, and saw Purgatory open before her. At the same time, as she made known later, a voice invited her to visit all the prisons of Divine Justice, and to see how truly worthy of compassion are the souls detained there. At this moment she was heard to say,
“Yes, I will go.” She consented to undertake this painful journey. In fact, she walked for two hours round the garden, which was very large, pausing from time to time. Each time she interrupted her walk, she contemplated attentively the sufferings which were shown to her. She was then seen to wring her hands in compassion, her face became pale, her body bent under the weight of suffering, in presence of the terrible spectacle with which she was confronted.She began to cry aloud in lamentation,
“Mercy, my God, mercy ! Descend, O Precious Blood, and deliver these souls from their prison. Poor souls ! You suffer so cruelly, and yet you are content and cheerful. The dungeons of the martyrs in comparison with these were gardens of delight. Nevertheless there are others still deeper. How happy should I esteem myself were I not obliged to go down into them.”
She did descend, however, for she was forced to continue her way. But when she had taken a few steps, she stopped
terror-stricken, and, sighing deeply, she cried,
“What ! Religious also in this dismal abode ! Good God ! how they are tormented ! Ah, Lord !”
She does not explain the nature of their sufferings ; but the horror which she manifested in contemplating them caused her to sigh at each step. She passed from thence into less gloomy places. They were the dungeons of simple souls, and of children in whom ignorance and lack of reason extenuated many faults. Their torments appeared to her much more endurable than those of the others. Nothing but ice and fire were there.
She noticed that these souls had their angel-guardians with them, who fortified them greatly by their presence ; but she saw also demons whose dreadful forms increased their sufferings. Advancing a few paces, she saw souls still more unfortunate, and she was heard to cry out,
“Oh ! how horrible is this place ; it is full of hideous demons and incredible torments ! Who, O my God, are the victims of these cruel tortures ? Alas ! they are being pierced with sharp swords, they are being cut into pieces.”
She was answered that they were the souls whose conduct had been tainted with hypocrisy. Advancing a little, she saw a great multitude of souls which were bruised, as it were, and crushed under a press ; and she understood that they were those souls which had been addicted to impatience and disobedience during life. Whilst contemplating them, her looks, her sighs, her whole attitude betokened compassion and terror. A moment later her agitation increased, and she uttered a dreadful cry. It was the dungeon of lies which now lay open before her. After having attentively considered it, she
“Liars are confined in a place in the vicinity of Hell, and their sufferings are exceedingly great. Molten lead is poured into their mouths ; I see them burn, and at the same time tremble with cold.”
She then went to the prison of those souls which had sinned through weakness, and she was heard to exclaim,
“Alas ! I had thought to find you among those who have sinned through ignorance, but I am mistaken ; you burn with an intenser fire.”
Farther on, she perceived souls which had been too much attached to the goods of this world, and had sinned by avarice.
“What blindness,” she said, “thus eagerly to seek a perishable fortune ! Those whom formerly riches could not sufficiently satiate, are here gorged with torments. They are smelted like metal in the furnace.”
From thence she passed into the place where those souls were imprisoned which had formerly been stained with impurity. She saw them in so filthy and pestilential a dungeon that the sight produced nausea. She turned away quickly from that loathsome spectacle. Seeing the ambitious and the proud, she said,
“Behold those who wished to shine before men ; now they are condemned to live in this frightful obscurity.”
Then she was shown those souls which had been guilty of ingratitude towards God. They were a prey to unutterable torments, and, as it were, drowned in a lake of molten lead, for having by their ingratitude dried up the source of piety.
Finally, in a last dungeon, she was shown souls that had not been given to any particular vice, but which, through lack of proper vigilance over themselves, had committed all kinds of trivial faults. She remarked that these souls had share in the chastisements of all vices, in a moderate degree, because those faults committed only from time to time rendered them less guilty than those committed through habit.
After this last station the saint left the garden, begeing God never again to make her witness of so heartrending a spectacle : she felt that she had not strength to endure it. Her ecs tasy still continued, and, conversing with Jesus, she said to Him, “Tell me, Lord, what was your design in discovering to me those terrible prisons, of which I knew so little, and comprehended still less ? Ah ! I now see ; you wished to give me the knowledge of your infinite sanctity, and to make me detest more and more the least stain of sin, which is so abominable in your eyes.”
In another of her visions, where the different prisons of Purgatory were shown to her, saw the soul of her brother, who had died after having led a most fervent Christian life. Nevertheless, this soul was detained in suffering for certain faults, which it had not sufficiently expiated upon earth. These, says the saint, are the most intolerable sufferings, and yet they are endured
with joy. Ah ! why are they not understood by those who lack the courage to bear their cross here below? Struck with this frightful spectacle which she had just contem plated, she ran to her Prioress, and casting herself upon her knees, she cried out,
“O my dear Mother, how terrible are the pangs of Purgatory ! Never could I have believed it, had not God manifested it to me. . . . And, neverthe less, I cannot call them cruel ; rather are they advantageous, since they lead to the ineffable bliss of Paradise.”
To impress this more and more upon our minds, it has pleased God to give certain holy persons a small share in the pains
of expiation, like a drop of the bitter cup which the poor souls have to drink, a spark of the fire which consumes them.
St Frances of Rome (1384-1440)
An Italian saint who was a wife, mother, mystic, organizer of charitable services and a Benedictine Oblate, a religious community which she founded. God favoured her with great light concerning the state of souls in the other life.
She saw Hell and its horrible torments; she also saw the interior of Purgatory. Her visions were written at the request of the venerable Canon Matteotti, her spiritual director.
She declared that, after having endured with unspeakable horror the vision of Hell, she came out of that abyss and was conducted by angel into the regions of Purgatory. She saw there souls which suffered cruelly, but angels visited and assisted them in their sufferings.
“Purgatory is divided into three distinct parts, which are as the three large provinces of that kingdom of suffering. They are situated the one beneath the other and occupied by souls of different orders. These souls are buried more deeply in proportion as they are more defiled and farther removed from the time of their deliverance.”
“The lowest region is filled with a fierce fire, but which is not dark like that of Hell ; it is a vast burning sea, throwing forth immense flames. Innumerable souls are plunged into its depths : they are those who have rendered themselves guilty of mortal sin, which they have duly confessed, but not sufficiently expiated during life.” The servant of God then learned that, for all forgiven mortal sin, there remains to be undergone a suffering of seven years. This term cannot evidently be taken to mean a definite measure, since mortal sins differ in enormity, but as an average penalty. Although the souls are enveloped in the same flames, their sufferings are not the same ; they differ according to the number and nature of their former sins.
In lower Purgatory the saint beheld laics and persons consecrated to God. The laics were those who, after a life of sin, had had the happiness of being sincerely converted ; the persons consecrated to God were those who had not lived according to the sanctity of their state. At that same moment she saw descend the soul of a priest whom she knew, but whose name she does not reveal. She remarked that he had his face covered with a veil which concealed a stain. Although he had led an edifying life, this priest had not always observed strict temperance, and had sought too eagerly the satisfactions of the table.
The saint was then conducted into the intermediate Purgatory, destined for souls which had deserved less rigorous chastisement. It had three distinct compartments ;
1. One resembled an immense dungeon of ice, the cold of which was indescribably intense ; 2. The second, on the contrary, was like a huge caldron of boiling oil and pitch ; 3. The third had the appearance of a pond of liquid metal resembling molten gold or silver. The upper Purgatory, which the saint does not describe, is the temporary abode of souls which suffer little, except the pain of loss, and approach the happy moment of their deliverance.
St Lidwina of Schiedam (1380-1433)
A Dutch mystic, who was conducted by her angel-guardian into the mysterious regions of Purgatory. There she saw dwellings, prisons, divers dungeons, one more dismal than the other ; she met, too, souls that she knew, and she was shown their various punishments.
One of the journeys which our saint made to Purgatory occurred as follows :
An unfortunate sinner, entangled in the corruptions of the world was finally converted. Thanks to the prayers and urgent exhortations of Lidwina, he made a sincere confession of all his sins and received absolution, but had little time to practise penance, for shortly after he died of the plague.
The saint offered up many prayers and sufferings for his soul; and some time afterwards, having been taken by her angel-guardian into Purgatory, she desired to know if he was still there, and in what condition.
” He is there,” said her angel, “And he suffers much. Would you be willing to endure some pain in order to diminish his ?” “Certainly,” she replied, ” I am ready to suffer anything to assist him.” Instantly her angel conducted her into a place of frightful torture. “Is this, then, Hell, my brother ? ” asked the holy maiden, seized with horror. “No, sister,” answered the angel, “But this part of Purgatory is bordering upon Hell.” Looking around on all sides, she saw what resembled an immense prison, surrounded with walls of a prodigious height, the blackness of which, together with the monstrous stones, inspired her with horror. Approaching his dismal enclosure, she heard a confused noise of lamenting voices, cries of fury, chains, instruments of torture, violent blows which the executioners discharged upon their victims. This noise was such that all the tumult of the world, in tempest or battle, could bear no comparison to it.
” What, then, is that horrible place ? “ asked St. Lidwina of her good angel.
” Do you wish me to show it to you ? “
” No, I beseech you,” said she, recoiling with terror ;
” The which I hear is so frightful that I can no longer bear it ; how, then, could I endure the sight of those horrors ? “
Continuing her mysterious route, she saw an angel seated sadly on the curb of a well. ” Who is that angel ?” she asked of her guide.
” It is the angel-guardian of the sinner in whose fate you are interested. His soul is in this well, where it has a special Purgatory.” At these words, Lidwina cast an inquiring glance at her angel ; she desired to see that soul which was dear to her, and endeavour to release it from that frightful pit. Her angel, who understood her, having taken off the cover of the well, a cloud of flames, together with the most plaintive cries, came forth.
” Do you recognise that voice ?” said the angel to her.
” Alas ! yes,” answered the servant of God.
” Do you desire to see that soul ? “ he continued. On her replying in the affirmative, he called him by his name ; and immediately our virgin saw appear at the mouth of the pit a spirit all on fire, resembling incandescent metal, which said to her in a voice scarcely audible,
” O Lidwina, servant of God, who will give me to contemplate the face of the Most High ? “
The sight of this soul, a prey to the most terrible torment of fire, gave our saint such a shock that the cincture which she wore around her body was rent in twain ; and, no longer able to endure the sight, she awoke suddenly from her ecstasy.
The persons present, perceiving her fear, asked her its cause.
” Alas !” she replied, ” How frightful are the prisons of Purgatory ! It was to assist the souls that I consented to descend thither. Without this motive, if the whole world were given to me, I would not undergo the terror which that horrible spectacle inspired.”
Some days later, the same angel whom she had seen so dejected appear to her with a joyful countenance; he told her that the soul of his protege had left the pit an passed into the ordinary Purgatory. This partial alleviation did not suffice the charity of Lidwina ; she continued to pray for the poor patient, and to apply to him the merits of her sufferings, until she saw the gates of Heaven opened to him.
St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302)
A German Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian.
We read in the Revelations of St. Gertrude that a young Religious of her convent, for whom she had a special love on account of her great virtues, died in the most beautiful sentiments of piety. Whilst she was fervently recommending this dear soul to God, she was rapt in ecstasy and had a vision.
The deceased sister was shown to her standing before the throne of God, surrounded by a brilliant halo and in rich garments. Nevertheless, she appeared sad and troubled ; her eyes were cast down, as though she were ashamed to appear before the face of God ; it seemed as though she would hide herself and retire.
Gertrude, much surprised, asked of the Divine Spouse of Virgins the cause of this sadness and embarrassment on the part of so holy a soul.
“Most sweet Jesus,” she cried, “Why does not your infinite goodness invite your spouse to approach you, and to enter into the joy of her Lord? Why do you leave her aside, sad and timid?” Then our Lord, with a loving smile, made a sign to that holy soul to draw near ; but she, more and more troubled, after some hesitation, all trembling, withdrew.
At this sight the saint addressed herself directly to the soul. “What! My daughter,” she said to her, “Do you retire when our Lord calls you ? You, that have desired Jesus during your whole lifej withdraw now that He opens His arms to receive you ! “
“Ah ! My dear Mother,” replied the soul, “I am not worthy to appear before the Immaculate Lamb. I have still some stains. To approach the Sun of Justice, one must be as pure as a ray of light. I have not yet that degree of purity which He requires of His saints. Know, that if the door of Heaven were to be opened to me, I should not dare to cross the threshold before being entirely purified from all stain. It seems to me that the choir of virgins who follow the Lamb would repulse me with horror. “And yet,” continued the Abbess. “I see you surrounded with light and glory!” “What you see,” replied the soul, ” is but the border of the garment of glory. To wear this celestial robe we must not retain even the shadow of sin.”
This vision shows a soul very near to the glory of Heaven ; but her enlightenment concerning the infinite Sanctity of God was of a different order from that which has been given to us. This clear knowledge causes her to seek, as a blessing, the expiation which her condition requires to render her worthy of the vision of the thrice holy God.
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
A Carmelite nun, prominent Spanish mystic, religious reformer, author, theologian of the contemplative life and of mental prayer, she was declared a Doctor of the Church,
St Teresa had great charity towards the souls in Purgatory. God frequently showed her the souls she had delivered ; she saw them in the moment of their release from suffering and of their etrance into Heaven.
We read about death of a Religious who had formerly been Provincial for many years;
“I was acquainted with him, and he had rendered me great service. This intelligence caused me great uneasiness. Although this man was commendable for many virtues, I was apprehensive for the salvation of his soul, because he had been Superior for the space of twenty years, and I always fear much for those who are charged with the care of souls.
Much grieved, I went to an oratory ; there I conjured our Divine Lord to apply to this Religious the little good I had done during my life, and to supply the rest by His infinite merits, in order that this soul might be freed from Purgatory.
Whilst I besought this grace with all the fervour of witch I was capable, I saw on my right side this soul come forth from the depths of the earth and ascend into Heaven in transports of joy. Although this priest was advancec in years, he appeared to me with the features of man who had not yet attained the age of thirty, and with a countenance resplendent with light.
This vision, though very short, left me inundated with joy, and without a shadow of doubt as to the truth of what I had seen. As I was separated by a great distance from God had ended his days, it was some time before I learned the particulars of his edifying death ; all those who were witnesses of it could not behold without admiration how he preserved consciousness to the last moment, the tears he shed, and the sentiments of humility with which he surrendered his soul to God.”
Another visions of St Teresa;
” A Religious of my community, a great servant of God, had been dead not quite two days. We were saying the Office for the Dead for her in choir, a sister was reading the lesson, and I was standing to say the versicle. When half of tile lesson had been said, I saw the soul of this Religious come forth from the depths of the earth, like the one of which I have just spoken, and go to Heaven.”
“In this same monastery there died, at the age of eighteen or twenty years, another Religious, a true model of fervour, regularity, and virtue. Her life had been but a tissue of maladies and sufferings patiently endured. I had no doubt, after having seen her live thus, that she had more than sufficient merits to exempt her from Purgatory. Nevertheless, whilst I was at office, before she was interred, and about a quarter of an hour after her death, I saw her soul likewise issue from the earth and rise to Heaven.”