Where is Purgatory?

Where is Purgatory?


My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Where is Purgatory?

There is a common opinion, received even by theologians, that Purgatory is located in the centre of the earth. Bellarmine says that theologians are almost unanimous on this point. In the Creed we say that we believe that Jesus Christ, Our Lord, “descended into hell” after His death. That means all those hidden places where souls were detained. Why should we say “descended” if it were not into the earth that He was supposed to have gone?
We know that it is possible for spirits to be in a place already occupied by human beings. St. Paul teaches that the air is filled with evil spirits and Lucifer is called the “Prince of the Air.” On the other hand, we know that the good angels who guard and defend us are innumerable and have often been seen on earth. If spirits can dwell in our atmosphere, there is no reason that they should not also dwell in the bowels of the earth.
The visions of the Saints also correspond with this view. When it has been granted to them to see the souls that have been delivered through their means, and to behold them entering into everlasting glory, they often use the phrase, “the soul came forth from the depths of the earth.” St. Teresa, for instance, who had great charity for the Holy Souls, and offered many prayers and good works for them, once saw the soul of a religious who had formerly been the provincial of his Order and had been kind to her. She says: “I saw this soul come forth from the depths of the earth, and ascend into Heaven with transports of joy.” In another place she says: “A religious of my community, a great servant of God, had been dead for not quite two days. We were saying the Office of the Dead for her in choir; a Sister was reading the lesson, and I was standing to say the versicle. When half of the lesson had been said, I saw the soul of this religious come forth from the depths of the earth, . . . and go to Heaven.”
Again: “There died, at the age of eighteen or twenty, another religious, a model of regularity, fervour, and virtue. Her life had been 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 issue from the earth and rise up to Heaven.”
St. Louis Bertrand relates that a religious of his community, who, while living, had told him that he would return and reveal his state in the other life, appeared to him and said that he was detained in Purgatory for some slight faults. Six days later, after St. Louis had obtained all the prayers he could for this soul, a man of the town, who knew nothing of the promise made by the deceased, came to confession to Father Louis and told him that the soul of his companion had appeared to him. He said he saw the earth open, and the soul of the deceased Father come forth all glorious, like a resplendent star, and rise through the air towards Heaven.
In the life of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi we read that she beheld the soul of a recently deceased Sister issue forth from the earth. 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 a full hour at the foot of the altar adoring Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This hour of adoration was the last of her penance, for when it was over, the Saint saw her arise and take flight to Heaven.
We have many instances in the lives of the Saints which would seem to indicate that many souls pass their Purgatory on earth, either in the places where they have lived, or in other spots assigned to them.
There is that curious story mentioned by St. Gregory the Great in his Dialogues, that the Deacon Paschasius appeared to St. Germanus of Capua, long after his death, and told him he was engaged in performing menial services at the baths of St. Angelo. “I here expiate,” said the apparition, “the evil I did by adhering to the wrong party in the dispute about the succession to the episcopate.” . . . “Pray for me,” continued the Deacon, “and you will know that you have been heard when you shall no longer see me in these places.” After a few days, during which Germanus prayed earnestly for the soul, he returned to the baths, but Paschasius was seen there no more. St. Gregory also speaks of a certain priest who appears to have passed his Purgatory in serving at the same baths.
We read of apparitions of souls who expiated their sins in the places where they were committed. Thus monks and nuns have been seen after death in their stalls in the choir, for having sinned by tepidity and negligence or other faults in reciting the Divine Office.
As God does everything by weight, number, and measure, He may see that it is fitting that a sin should be expiated in the place in which it was committed. As we know that good and evil spirits are upon this earth invisibly, the spirit of man may likewise be so.

Practice.—Some act of self-denial daily for the Holy Souls.

Indulgenced Prayer.“Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation!” (300 days each time; plenary, once a month, if said daily.)


The following incident was related in Le Monde for April, 1860.
In the Abbey of St. Vincent, on September 10th, 1859, a novice saw an apparition of a Benedictine monk in full choir dress. This apparition was repeated every day from September 18th until November 19th, either at eleven o’clock at noon, or at two o’clock in the morning. It was only on the 19th of November that the novice questioned the spirit and asked the reason of the apparitions. The monk replied that he had suffered for seventy-seven years for having neglected to celebrate seven Masses of obligation; that he had already appeared at different times to seven other Benedictines, but that he had not been heard, and that he would have to appear again after eleven years if the novice did not come to his assistance. He then asked that seven Masses be celebrated for him, that the novice remain in retreat for seven days, keep strict silence, and for thirty days recite three times a day the psalm Miserere, his feet bare and his arms extended in the form of a cross. These conditions were all fulfilled between November 30th and December 25th, and on that day, during the celebration of the last Mass, the apparition disappeared. The spirit had often appeared during the interval and told the novice that of the five priests who had died in the Abbey not one had yet entered Heaven, but all were suffering in Purgatory.

November Devotion: The Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Virtues to practice: Charity and kindness.


Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord! Lord hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by rea­son of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plenteous re­demption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let Us Pray.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that through the devout prayers of Thy Church on earth, they may obtain that remission of pain which they have every desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Clement XII., by a brief, Calestes Ecclesia thesauros, Aug. 11, 1736, granted:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS to all the faithful who, at the sound of the bell, at the first hour after nightfall, shall say devoutly on their knees the psalm De profundis, or the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Requiem æternam.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a year, to those who shall have performed this pious exercise for a year, on any day when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall pray for peace and union among Christian princes, for the extirpation of heresy and for the triumph of holy Mother Church.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of the Propaganda, March 18, 1781, granted these indulgences to all the faithful who may happen to dwell in a place where no bell for the dead is sounded, provided they shall say the De profundis, or the Our Father, and the Hail Mary, etc., about nightfall.
The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, July 18, 1877, declared that these indulgences can be gained on the recital as aboye of the De profundis, or the Our Father, etc., before or after nightfall, provided that the bell is sounded at such hour, according to the custom of the church or place.
Moreover, His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Feb. 3, 1888, granted to all the faithful who shall recite the above Psalm, adding the versicle Requiem æternam dona eis Domine ei lux perpetua luceat eis, AN INDULGENCE OF FIFTY DAYS, three times a day.

Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou Thyself wouldst offer to Thine eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the sacred wounds of Thine adorable Body, together with Thine agony and death. And do thou likewise, O sorrowful Virgin Mary, present unto Him, together with the dolorous Passion of thy dear Son, thine own sighs and tears, and all the sorrows thou didst suffer in His suffering, in order that, through the merits of the same, refreshment may be granted to the souls now suffering in the fiery torments of purgatory, so that, being delivered from that painful prison, they may be clothed with glory in heaven, there to sing the mercies of God for ever and ever. Amen.
Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin, that with Thy gracious assistance they may deserve to escape the judgment of vengeance and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.
V. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord

R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O, God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful; grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins: that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Eternal rest, etc.

An indulgence of 3 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if these prayers are said daily for a month (S. C. md., Sept. 15, 1888; S. P. Ap., April 25, 1934).


Pius IX, has granted an Indulgence of Ten Years and Ten Quarantines once a day to the faithful who devoutly recite in company with others, either at home or in church, in public or private oratories, a third part of the Rosary of Saint Dominic; and a Plenary Indulgence on the last Sunday in every month to all who are in the habit of saying with others at least three times a week, the third part of the Rosary, without belonging to the confraternity of that name. (Visit.)
Benedict XIII granted an Indulgence of One Hundred Days for every Our Father and every Hail Mary, and a Plenary Indulgence once a year, to those who recite the third part of the Rosary every day; the same Indulgence of One Hundred Days had been granted for the Chaplet of Saint Bridget. Those who recite at least once a week the Chaplet of our Lord, or that of the Blessed Virgin, enriched with Apostolic Indulgences, gain numerous Indulgences on the feast indicated in the calendar, besides an Indulgence of One Hundred Days each time. (Take particulare notice that it is necessary to recite the whole Chaplet without remarkable interrruption.) – Month of the Dead.


In order to maintain and diffuse ever more and more among the faithful the holy and salutary thought of praying for the departed, some pious Romans projected and proposed a so-called Catholic League of perpetual suffrage for the holy souls in purgatory, to which any one may belong by reciting each day, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc., in behalf of the holy souls.
His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Aug. 19, 1880, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, recite, three times, Give them eternal rest, etc.:
AN INDULGENCE OF TWO HUNDRED DAYS, once a day. – Raccolta 1898


His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, January 17, 1888, granted to the faithful who shall perform some pious practice for the relief of the souls in Purgatory, every day during the whole month of November, whether in public or in private,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once during the same month, on any day of the month, on the usual conditions: Confession and Communion, and a visit to a church or public oratory, and there praying for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff. – Raccolta 1898.

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