Category Archives: Purgatory

Relief of the Souls in Purgatory.

Relief of the Souls in 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.

Relief of the Souls in Purgatory.

GOD is greatly glorified by the charity of the faithful on earth towards the Poor Souls. There is first of all the act of charity and mercy on their part, which is a faint reflection of His own perfections. It gives Him the occasion of rewarding these acts of charity and increasing the merit of those who perform them. And He is glorified by the praises of the soul which is thus sooner admitted to His presence, while satisfying to the full claims of His justice.
To us, therefore, who are still living on earth, God gives the power to help our departed brethren by satisfaction and prayer on their behalf. These suffrages are of various kinds. The word ‘‘suffrages’’ includes all that we can do in behalf of the souls of the departed. We can offer for them not only our prayers, but our good works. Each of our works, done in a state of grace, has a threefold value in the sight of God. (1) It obtains merit; that is, it gives us a right to a further degree of glory in Heaven; (2) It has the power of impetration, that is, of obtaining some favour from God; (3) It has the power of satisfying Divine Justice and of paying our debts of temporal punishment in the sight of God.
The merit belongs to the person who does the good act and cannot be transferred to another. But the impetratory and satisfactory part can benefit others, in virtue of the Communion of Saints.
What good works can we do for the Holy Souls?
Prayers, alms, fasts, penances, indulgences, and, above all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Poor Souls in Purgatory are being constantly helped and released by the suffrages of the faithful on earth. St. Gertrude saw the soul of a nun, who had been obliged to go to Purgatory for some negligence not atoned for on earth, suddenly rise and mount to Heaven, borne up by the suffrages of the Church. But these are not all infallibly applied to the souls for whom they are offered. If these have been wanting in charity themselves, they are often not fully applied to them. We often hear of souls for whom many Masses have been said not receiving full or immediate relief. There had been in them some defect of charity towards others, which had prevented the effects of the suffrages.
We read in the Bible that, even in the Old Law, prayers and sacrifices were offered for the dead. Judas Machabeus ordered special prayers and sacrifices for the souls of the dead soldiers who were found after their death with the spoils offered to the idols, which was forbidden by the law. “He sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for a sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection. (For if he had not hoped that they who were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. . . . ) It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.”
It is, as we have pointed out, not only a good deed to the Poor Souls themselves, but also a very salutary or wholesome thought for the good of our own souls. We have already seen and we shall further see . . . in how many ways the thought of Purgatory is helpful to our own souls.
The Church has established one special day in the year, which is entirely devoted to this good work of helping the Holy Souls. All Souls’ Day originated in the Abbey of Cluny. St. Odilo, the Abbot, was renowned for his tender charity to the Holy Souls. While he was ruling the Abbey, a pious hermit was living in a little island off the coast of Sicily. A French pilgrim once visited this hermit. The latter asked him if he knew the Abbot Odilo. “I do,” was the reply; “but why do you ask?” “Because,” replied the hermit, “I often hear the evil spirits complain that the suffering souls are delivered from the pains of the other life by the prayers of holy people; but above all they complain of this Abbot Odilo and his monks. Tell him, therefore, to redouble his good works in favour of these holy souls.” The pilgrim delivered the message. In consequence the holy Abbot ordered that, on the day following All Saints, there should be in all the monasteries of his institute, a solemn commemoration made of all the faithful departed. The practice soon spread, and in our own days, a holy Pope, Benedict XV, has crowned it by granting the privilege of three Masses to each priest on All Souls’ Day, in order to relieve more abundantly the sufferings of the Poor Souls.
Practice.—Let no day pass without offering some prayer for the Holy Souls.

Indulgenced Prayer.—“Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.” (300 days each time.)


In the Life of St. Elizabeth of Portugal we read that after the death of her daughter, Constance, she learned the pitiful state of the deceased in Purgatory and the price which God exacted for her ransom. The young princess had only been married a short time to the King of Castile, when a sudden death snatched her from her family and her subjects. A hermit soon after came to see St. Elizabeth, and related that, while he was praying in his hermitage, Queen Constance had appeared to him, entreating him to make known to her mother that she was languishing in Purgatory, condemned to long and terrible suffering, but that she would be delivered if for the space of a year the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass were celebrated for her every day. Elizabeth asked the King what he thought of it. “I believe,” he said, “that it will be wise for you to attend to what has been made known to you in so extraordinary a manner. It is nothing more than a Christian duty to have Masses said for our deceased relatives.” A holy priest was, therefore, appointed to say the Masses.
At the end of the year Constance appeared to St. Elizabeth, clad in a brilliant white robe. “To-day, dear Mother,” she said, “I am delivered from the pains of Purgatory, and enter Heaven.” Elizabeth hastened to church to thank God, and there she found the priest Rendez, who assured her that the previous day he had finished the celebration of the three hundred and sixty-five Masses with which he had been charged. The holy Queen testified her gratitude by distributing abundant alms to the poor.


My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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 ever 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 Thy eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the Sacred Wounds of Thy adorable Body, together with Thy 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.
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.

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 particular 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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