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Purgatory by Mary Anne Madden Sadlier

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turn_, and how sad the thought that makes me say, 'Time effaces
all.' The only satisfaction I seek is that which lasts forever, that
which is given by a tranquil conscience. O, my God! show me where my
duty lies, and give me strength to accomplish it always. Arrived at the
term of my life, I shall turn my looks fearlessly to the past. Remember
it will not be for me a long remorse. I shall be happy. Grant, O God,
that my heart may be penetrated with the conviction that those whom I
love and who are dead shall see all my actions. My life shall be worthy
of this witness, and my innermost thoughts shall never make them

That single line, "If I forget those who are no more, I shall be
forgotten in my turn," is an epitome of what is taught us, and what our
own hearts feel in relation to the dead. May the noble young heart that
poured forth this beautiful prayer be remembered by Christian charity
now that he is amongst the departed!


It has always seemed to me a particularly interesting subject of
thought to trace as far back as possible the origin of great and good
works,--to ascertain what were the tendencies or the circumstances
which concurred in awakening the first ideas, or giving the first
impulses, which have eventually led to results the magnitude of which
was little foreseen by those destined to bring them about; how much of
natural character, and what peculiar gifts, united with God's grace in
the formation of some of those grand developments of religion which
have been the joy and the glory of the Church.

What would we not give to know, for instance, at what page, at what
sentence, of the volume of the "Lives of the Saints" which St. Ignatius
was reading on his sick couch at the Castle of Loyola, the thought came
into his mind the ultimate development of which was the foundation of
the Society of Jesus? or when the blessed Father Clavers' soul was for
the first time moved by a casual mention, perhaps, of the sufferings of
the negro race? or the particular disappointment at some Parisian lady
going out of town in the midst of her works of charity, or at another
being detained at home by the sickness of some relative, which
suggested to St. Vincent de Paul the first idea of gathering together a
few servant girls from the country, to do with greater regularity, if
not more zeal, the visiting amongst the poor which the ladies had
undertaken, and thus founding the Order of the Sisters of Charity? I
suppose that every one who has done anything worth doing in the course
of their lives could call to mind the moment when a book, a sermon, a
conversation, a casual word, perhaps,--or, if they have been so
favored, a direct inspiration from God in the hour of prayer,--has
given the impulse--set fire, as it were, to the train lying ready in
their hearts. But long before this decisive time has come, indications
have existed, thoughts have arisen, feelings have been awakened, which,
like the cloud big as a man's hand, have foreshadowed the deluge of
graces and mercies about to inundate their souls.

As an instance of these indications of a particular bias, I was struck
with the mention of a childish fancy in the early years of the
foundress of the Order of Helpers of the Souls in Purgatory,--a new
community, which has sprung up during the last ten years, and has a
history well worth relating. To many this fresh manifestation of the
spirit of the Church on earth, and of its close affinity with the
suffering Church in Purgatory, has come as a wonderful blessing and
consolation, and inspired them with a grateful regard for these new
oblates and victims of charity to the dead.

About thirty years ago a little girl in the town of N--, in France, had
been much struck with the mention of Purgatory. It made a very great
impression upon her. She used to picture it to herself as a dark
closet, in which a little friend of hers who had lately died was
perhaps shut up, whilst she herself was playing in the garden and
running after butterflies; and she kept longing to open the door and
let her out. This little girl was subsequently educated in one of the
Convents of the Sacred Heart, and learnt in that school lessons of
self-devotion and ardent zeal for souls which were hereafter to bear
fruit. She has retained to this day an enthusiastic affection for the
religious teachers of her childhood; and devotion to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus is one of the principal devotions of the order she has

The thought which had occurred to her almost in infancy continued to
haunt her in another form as she grew older. She kept asking herself,"
How could I help God? He is our helper: how can we help Him? He gives
me everything: how could I give Him everything?" And the answer which
grace put into her heart to these oft-repeated questions was always, "By
paying the debts of the souls in Purgatory."

The inevitable result of this thought was the desire to have wherewith
to pay these debts. For this object the necessity of a perfect life, of
a daily sanctification, of an ever-increasing store of merits and
satisfactions, was obvious. Hence naturally arose the idea of the
community-life, of the practice of the evangelical counsels, and of a
meritorious, arduous, self-sacrificing charity towards the poor, in
order worthily to pray, to act, and to suffer for the souls in
Purgatory--to become, as it were, a co-operator with our Lord, by
aiding His designs of mercy towards them, whilst satisfying His justice
by voluntary expiation. This lady was not led by one of those startling
bereavements which close a person's prospects of earthly happiness, and
leave them no object to live for but the hope of winning mercy at God's
hands for some dear departed one; or by the terrible anxiety about the
state of some beloved soul which forces on the survivor the practice of
a continual appeal to His compassionate goodness. Her zeal for the
souls in Purgatory was perfectly free from any earthly attachment; it
was as disinterested as possible, and sprung up in her heart before she
had known what it is to lose a friend or a relative, before she had
experienced the keen anguish of bereavement. She was a happy, contented
girl, living in a cheerful and comfortable home, beloved by her family,
enjoying all innocent pleasures, going occasionally into society, and
amusing herself like other young people; devoted, indeed, to good
works, and taking the lead in the numerous charities existing in her
native town. But this was not to be her eventual mode of life. It was
good as far as it went; but she had been chosen for the accomplishment
of a special work, and grace was continually urging her to its

On the 1st of November, 1853, Mdlle. ---- was hearing vespers with her
father and her mother in a church dedicated to Our Lady. Whilst the
Blessed Sacrament was being exposed on the altar, she felt a strong
internal inspiration prompting her to form an association of prayers
and offerings for the dead; but, afraid of being misled by her
imagination, she prayed earnestly that God would give her a sign that
this was indeed His will. As she was coming out of the church, a friend
of hers stopped her in the porch, and of her own accord proposed that
they should offer up jointly, during the month set apart for special
devotion to the souls in Purgatory, all their prayers and works for
their relief. This seemed to her a token that her inspiration had been
a true one, and that very evening an association was begun which by
this time numbers not less than fifteen thousand members. On the
following day, the 2d of November, during her thanksgiving after
Communion, Mdlle. ---- was strongly impressed with the thought that there
existed orders intended to supply every need in the Church militant,
but none exclusively devoted to the relief of the suffering portion of
the Church, and it appeared to her that she was called upon to fill up
this void. This idea seemed at the outset too bold a one. She felt
startled, almost alarmed, at its magnitude, and earnestly entreated our
Lord to make known to her if such was indeed to be her mission. She
begged of Him, by His Five Sacred Wounds, to give her five indications
of His will in this respect. Her prayers were heard, and during the
course of the years 1854 and 1855 these tokens were successively
vouchsafed to her. What she had asked for was, 1st, that the Holy
Father should approve of in writing, and give his blessing to, the
association of prayers set on foot on All Saints' Day (on the 7th of
July, 1854, Pius IX. wrote, with his own hand, at the bottom of the
petition presented to him, "_Benedicat vos Deus benedictione
perpetua_"--may God bless you with an everlasting blessing); 2d,
that a great number of Bishops should approve of this association; 3d,
that it should extend rapidly; 4th, that a few pious persons should co-
operate in the scheme, and devote themselves to works of charity in
behalf of the souls in Purgatory; 5th, that a priest might be met with
who had previously formed a similar project.

In the month of July, 1855, Mdlle. ---- thought of consulting the Cure
d'Ars, whom she had for the first time heard of a little while before.
The sanctity of this extraordinary man was beginning to be much spoken
of, not only in France, but all over Europe. Pilgrims flocked to the
insignificant little town of Ars, seeking the advice and help of the
poor _cure_--whose ascetic mode of life, spiritual discernment,
heroic virtues, and even miraculous gifts, were gradually becoming
known, in spite of the desperate efforts he made to conceal them. We
can hardly imagine, when reading his Life, that in the neighboring
country of France, and in our own day, a man was actually living that
we might have seen and spoken and gone to confession to, the details of
whose supernatural existence are like the marvels that we read of in
the "Lives of the Saints." Mdlle. ---- felt persuaded that this holy
priest was the instrument appointed by God to make her acquainted with
His will, and earnestly longed in some way or other to communicate with
him. She did not think of obtaining leave from her parents to go to
Ars. It seemed to her that his answer to her question, after he had
considered the subject before God in prayer, would be more unbiassed,
and carry greater weight with it, than if she had spoken of it to him
herself. She did not wish to be influenced by any human considerations,
or to be tempted to say more than, "Such is my thought and desire; does
it come from God?" With this view she began a novena, and on the day it
ended one of her friends called to tell her she was going to Ars, and
to inquire if she could do anything for her. On the 5th of August this
friend sent her M. Vianney's answer: "Tell her that she can establish,
as soon as she likes, an order for the souls in Purgatory."

The future foundress never had any personal communication with the Cure
d'Ars, and yet he always used to say, "I know her." On the 30th of
October Mdlle. ---- entreated him to pray on All Souls' Day for her
intention, and on the 11th of November the Abbe T--, his assistant in
his extensive correspondence, wrote to her as follows:

"Your edifying letter reached me at Pont d'Ain, where our worthy
Bishop, Monseigneur Chalandon, was preaching a retreat. This seemed
expressly arranged by Providence, in order that I should speak to him
of you and your pious projects. On my return to Ars, on All Souls' Day,
I mentioned your wishes to my holy _cure_, begging him to meditate
on the subject in prayer before he gave me an answer. Three or four
times since I have put to him the same question, and always received
the same answer. 'He thinks that it is God who has inspired you with
the thought of a heroic self-devotion, and that you will do well to
found an order in behalf of the souls in Purgatory.' Whether the good
_cure_ speaks in consequence of a divine enlightenment, or whether
he only expresses his own opinion and his own wishes, which his tender
devotion to the souls in Purgatory would naturally incline in favor of
your design, neither I nor any of those most intimately acquainted with
him can presume to say. But you can remain certain of two things,--that
he quite approves of your vocation to the religious life, and of the
foundation of this new order, which he thinks will increase rapidly.
This is surely enough to confirm you in your intention, which you will
carry into effect whenever and wherever it will please God to open a
way to it, and you will then be the faithful instrument of His Divine

On the 25th of the same month M. Vianney sent a message to Mdlle. ---- in
answer to a letter in which she had spoken of the obstacles which she
foresaw on the part of her family. The Abbe T---- writes:

"If I have not written to you before, it is because you particularly
wished to have an answer _after special prayer_. And now here is
this much-wished-for answer. The good _cure_ has expressed himself
as explicitly as possible. I told him that you were troubled at the
thought of a separation from your family more on their account than
your own, and also at relinquishing the many charitable works which you
carry on in your parish. To my great surprise, he who generally very
strongly recommends young people not to act against their parents'
wishes, but patiently to await their consent, did not hesitate in
advising you to proceed. He says that the tears your parents are now
shedding will soon be dried up. Do not, then, be afraid to let your
heart burn with the love of Jesus. He will find a way of removing all
the obstacles in your path, and of making you an angel of consolation
to His holy spouses, the souls in Purgatory. The moon has no light in
herself, and only reflects that of the sun. This is truly my case with
regard to our saintly priest. I will constantly remind him to pray for
you, and will unite my unworthy prayers to his, that, in the terrible
struggle in your heart between nature and grace, grace may remain

When this letter reached Mdlle. ----, the principal difficulty she
foresaw was already removed. On the 21st of November, the Feast of the
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, her mother, seeing that her heart
was ready to break with the wish and the fear of broaching the subject
so painfully interesting to them both, had the pious courage to speak
first, and to give her full consent to her child's vocation.

Both mother and daughter were struck some time afterwards at finding in
a little prayer-book they had not seen before, called "The Month of
November Consecrated to the Souls in Purgatory," the following prayer,
appointed to be said on the 21st of November, the very day on which
they had made their sacrifice, and uttered for the first time the
bitter word _separation_.

"O Holy Spirit! who at divers times has raised up religious orders for
the needs of the Church Militant; O Father of Light! full of compassion
and zeal for the dead; we implore Thee to raise up also in behalf of
the suffering Church a new order, the object of which will be to work
day and night for the relief and the deliverance of the souls in
Purgatory; whose intentions, invariably dedicated to the dead, will
apply to them the merits of all their prayers, fastings, vigils, and
good works. Thou alone, Creating Spirit, canst achieve a work which
will procure so much glory to God, and for which we shall never cease
to sigh and pray."

Other difficulties failed not to arise. Some persons were of opinion
that Mdlle. ---- ought to remain in the world for the very sake of the
objects she had in view, whereas her whole heart and soul were bent on
consecrating herself without any reserve to our Lord. She was warned
that her parents, who had never been separated from their children,
would suffer terribly if she left them; and finally, her own health
began to fail. But whilst the world and the devil were multiplying the
obstacles in her way, the venerable Cure d'Ars spared neither advice
nor encouragement to support her in her arduous struggle. On the 23d of
December his coadjutor writes:

"Divine Providence always acts with sweetness and with power. The
consent of your good mother is an important step gained. The good
_cure_ advises you not to go to Paris until you have some means
wherewith to begin your work. You will do well to avail yourself of the
interest you possess in your diocese to obtain some aid towards it. The
_cure_ entirely approves of your becoming a religious. It is quite
possible that God may restore your health; and he advises you to make a
novena to St. Philomena.

"The very day I received your letter, Monseigneur Chalandon, our worthy
Bishop, came to Ars, to call on my holy _cure_. I mentioned you
to him. He told me he had written to you. He also says that you must
not begin without some means and better health. Pray very hard that God
may give you both. I think the souls in Purgatory ought to take this
opportunity to prove that they have influence with God. Their interests
are at stake in the removal of these obstacles." Mdlle. ---- had asked to
make this novena conjointly with M. Vianney; and she soon received the
following letter:

"It is to-day, the 9th of January, that our much-wished-for novena is
to begin. The souls in Purgatory are interested in the re-establishment
of your health. I am, you know, but the echo of our good and holy
_cure_. Your director gives you excellent advice. You might,
indeed, as soon as you have means enough of support for one year, go to
Paris for a while, and come back again to forward the work in the same
way you are doing now. You say, 'St. Vincent de Paul used to begin his
works with nothing.' So he did. But then, as my good _cure_
observes, 'St. Vincent de Paul was a great saint!'"

According to M. Vianney's advice, on the 19th of January, 1856, the
foundress went to Paris, where she met some persons who had, like her,
resolved to devote themselves to the service of the souls in Purgatory;
but who were quite at a loss how to proceed, and had no means of
support. All sorts of crosses awaited this little band of Helpers of
the Holy Souls, for such was the name they had taken. Not only were
funds wanting for their establishment, but they did not know where to
apply for work, and sufferings of every kind assailed them. Mdlle. ----
experienced what always happens to generous souls at the outset of
their enterprises, when they have unreservedly devoted themselves to
the service of God, and are being tried like gold in the furnace. Blame
and neglect became her portion. Nobody thought it worth their while to
assist a little band of women, whose heroic project had seemed
admirable, indeed, in theory, but was now declared to be impracticable.
They were considered as mere enthusiasts; and, indeed, as was said by
M. Desgenettes, the venerable Cure of Notre Dame des Victoires, they
were truly possessed with the holy folly of the Cross.

Meantime they had to work for their bread, and did work with all their
might. But it was not always that work could be obtained; and trials
without end beset the infant community, lodged in an attic in the Rue
St. Martin. Every day, as they asked their Heavenly Father for their
daily bread, they prepared themselves to receive with it their habitual
portion of sufferings and privations--a fit noviceship for souls
undertaking a work of heroic expiation. Mdlle. ----, who, for the first
time in her life quitted a home where she had known all the comforts of
affluence, had to undergo numberless privations. Illness combined with
poverty to heighten their trials. Their Divine Master made them
experience the kind of suffering which it was hereafter to be their
special vocation to relieve. The Cure d'Ars fully understood the nature
of that training, and never offered them any help but that of his
advice and prayers. "He does not give you anything," says a letter
written on the 16th of March, "but _he_ will ask St. Philomena,
his heavenly treasurer, to put it into the hearts of those who could
assist you to do so." And, indeed, help used to come whenever the
distress of the holy society became too urgent. One day the foundress
had not a single penny left, and was, to use a common expression, at
her wits' end. But, thank God, there is something better than human
wits or human ingenuity in such extremities; and that is prayer. The
Sister who acted as housekeeper placed her bills before the
Superioress, and asked for money to buy food for the day. Mdlle. ----
told her to wait a little, and went out, not knowing very well what to
do next. She entered a church, threw herself on her knees before the
Blessed Sacrament, and prayed long and fervently. As she was coming
away she stopped before an image of our Holy Mother, and clasping her
hands, exclaimed: "My Blessed Mother, you _must_ get me 100 francs
to-day. I will take no refusal. You _cannot_, you never do forsake
your children." She went straight home, and up the dingy stairs into
the little room inhabited by the infant community. The instant she
opened the door her eyes fell on a letter lying on the table. She
opened it with a beating heart, and found in it a note of 100 francs.
There was no name; not a word written on the cover. The postman had
just left it, and to this day the donor of this sum, or the place it
came from, has not been discovered. Another time eight sous was all
that remained in the purse of the associates. They agreed to lay out
this money to advantage, and accordingly employed it in purchasing a
little statue of St. Joseph, whom they instituted their treasurer. The
Saint has fulfilled ever since the trust reposed in him; but he often
waits till the very last moment to supply the necessities of his
clients. I have seen this little image in their convents. It is, of
course, very dear to them.

One day, when no needle-work was to be had, and distress was
threatening them, a little girl came to their room, and asked if they
had finished the bracelets she had been told to call for. Finding she
had mistaken the direction, the child said: "You could have some of
that work to do if you liked."

Upon inquiry they found that the employment consisted in threading rows
of pearls for foreign exportation; that it was less fatiguing and
better paid than needle-work, and proved for some months a valuable
resource. On another occasion the sum of 500 francs was required for
some pressing necessity. This time the foundress had recourse to our
Lady of Victories. Having placed the matter in her hands, she went to
call on a person whom she thought might lend her this money, but met
with a decided negative. She did not know any one else in Paris to whom
she could apply; but on leaving the house she met a gentleman, with
whom she had no previous acquaintance, who came up to her and said: "I
think you are Mdlle. ----, and that you have a special devotion for the
souls in Purgatory. Will you allow me to place this 500 francs at your
disposal, and to recommend my intentions to your prayers?" Meanwhile
illnesses and trials continued to affect the little community. The Abbe
T---- writes from Ars: "Do not ask for miraculous cures. _M. le
Cure_ complains that St. Philomena sends us too many people." The
next letter is full of kind encouragement: "_M. le Cure_ only
smiles when I tell him all you have to go through, and he bids me
repeat the same thing to you, which he desired me to write to a good
Sister, devoted to all sorts of good works and suffering cruel
persecution. 'Tell her that these crosses are flowers which will soon
bear fruit.' You have thought, prayed, taken advice, and thoroughly
weighed the sacrifices you will have to make, and you have every reason
to believe that in doing this work you are doing God's will. The energy
which He alone can give will enable you to accomplish what you have
begun."..."_M. le Cure_ has said to me several times, in a tone
of the strongest conviction, 'Their enterprise cannot fail to succeed;
but the foundress will have to experience what anxiety and what labor,
what efforts and what sufferings, have to be endured ere such a work
can be consolidated; but,' he adds, 'if God is with them, who shall be
against them?'"

On the 20th of June the Superioress received another letter from the
same good priest:

"I feel deeply affected," he writes, "at the thought of the many and
severe trials which beset you. Tell your friend that the holy
_cure_ bids her not to look back, but obey with courage the sacred
call she has received. The souls in Purgatory must be enabled to say of
you, 'We have advocates on earth who can feel for us, because they know
themselves what it is to suffer.' And mind you go on praying to St.
Philomena, and begging of her to obtain for you the means necessary for
the accomplishment of your holy projects."

The associates continued to pray, to work, and to suffer with patience
and cheerfulness. They received at last some unexpected assistance. New
members proposed to join them; but it became then absolutely necessary
to hire a house. The Superioress searched in every direction for a
suitable one, but without success. It seems as if the words, "there was
no room for them," were destined to prove applicable to all religious
foundations during their periods of probationary trial. After having
exerted herself, and employed others in vain for a long time, the
Superioress received a message from a holy man whose prayers she had
asked, desiring her to go to a particular part of the town, and to
await there some providential indication as to the abode she was
seeking. For several hours she paced up and down the streets of that
part of Paris, praying interiorly, but totally at a loss where to
apply. At last she accidentally turned into the Rue de la Barouilliere,
and saw a house and garden with a bill upon it indicating that it was
to be let or sold. She immediately asked to go over it. All sorts of
difficulties, apparently insurmountable ones, stood in the way of the
purchase. They were overcome in a strangely unaccountable manner, and
the money which had to be paid in advance was actually forthcoming on
the appointed day, to the astonishment of all concerned. The history of
this negotiation, and the wonderful answers to prayer vouchsafed in the
course of it, are very striking; only the more we study the
manifestations of God's Providence with regard to works carried on in
faith and simple reliance on His assistance, the more _accustomed_
we get to these miracles of mercy. The Helpers of the Souls in
Purgatory took possession of their new home on the 1st of July, 1856,
and not long after began their labors amongst the poor. An act of
kindness solicited at their hands towards a sick and destitute neighbor
soon after their arrival, was the primary cause of their choosing as
their particular line of charity attendance on the sick poor in their
own destitute homes by day and by night also. This, together with their
prayers, their fasts, and their watches, is the continual sacrifice
they offer up for the souls in Purgatory.

* * * * *

Before I go on with the history of the Helpers of the Holy Souls in
Purgatory, I must describe to you their house,--No. 16 Rue de la
Barouilliere,--a very small and inconvenient one at the time of their
installation, but which has since been re-modelled according to the
wants of the increasing community, and an adjoining one added to it. I
have often visited this convent, which soon becomes dear to those who
would fain help the many beloved ones removed from their sight, but
feel the impotency of their own efforts, their want of holiness, of
courage, and of perseverance in this blessed work. The sight of this
religious house is very touching; the inscriptions on the walls, which
are taken from the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Saints, all
bear reference to the state of departed souls, and our duty towards
them; the quiet chapel where the Office for the Dead is daily said, and
a number of Masses offered up. The memorials of the saintly Cure d'Ars,
whose spirit seems to hover over the place, gives a peculiar character
to its aspect. The nuns do not wear the religious dress, but are simply
dressed in black, like persons in mourning.

* * * * *

On the 18th of August, 1856, Monseigneur Sibour, the Archbishop of
Paris, came to visit and bless the new community. "It is a grain of
mustard-seed," he said, "which will become a great tree, and spread its
branches far and wide." He approved of all that had been done since the
house had been opened, and allowed Mass to be said every day in the
chapel as soon as it could be properly fitted up, which was the case on
the ensuing 5th of November. On the 8th of the same month the house was
solemnly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin; the keys were laid at the
feet of her image, and she was entreated to become herself the
Superioress of the congregation.

It was on the 27th of December, the feast of the disciple whom Jesus
loved, the great apostle of charity, that the foundress and five other
Sisters made their first vows. A few days afterwards, Monseigneur
Sibour was about to sign a grant of indulgences for the work of the
religious; someone standing beside him said, "Monseigneur, the souls in
Purgatory are guiding your pen." He smiled, and made haste to write his
name. He little thought how soon he would be himself numbered with the
dead. It was on the 3d of January, 1857, that his tragical death took

* * * * *

On the 4th of August, 1859, the holy Cure of Ars died; but he lives in
the hearts and in the memories of the community which owes so much to
his prayers and his advice. His name is frequently on their lips; often
has his intercession obtained for them miraculous cures. Every memorial
of him is carefully preserved and venerated.

* * * * *

In the course of the year 1859, on the Feast of St. Benedict, Cardinal
Morlot sanctioned the institution of a third order of Helpers of the
Souls in Purgatory, and the affiliation to it of honorary members. The
ladies of the third order engage to lead a practically Christian life
in the world, to perform exactly all their religious duties, and those
of their state of life. They promise, in their measure, to suffer, act,
and pray for the dead, and offer up their good works, the sacrifices
they may be inspired to make, and the devotions prescribed by a simple
and easy rule adapted to their condition, for this object.... On the
day of the institution of the third order, twenty-eight ladies joined
it, received the cross, and made their act of consecration in presence
of the Archbishop. The honorary members have been continually and
rapidly increasing in number.

* * * * *

The new order has a special devotion to St. Joseph, the great minister
of God's mercy to all religious, the particular protector of the souls
in Purgatory, the foster-father of Christ's poor, and the helper of the
dying. He was himself once in limbo, and knows what it is to wait. It
is scarcely necessary to speak of their devotion to the Blessed Virgin,
whom they have crowned as the Queen of Purgatory, and invoke under the
title of Our Lady of Providence. They specially keep the Feast of the
Sacred Heart, those of St. Ignatius and St. Gertrude; but All Souls is
of course the day of their most particular devotion. The Holy Sacrament
is exposed during the whole time of the Octave.

* * * * *

And now, to use words of Pere Blot, of the Society of Jesus: "How
consoling a thought it is that as the Holy Souls in Purgatory, in all
probability, and according to the opinion of the greatest theologians,
know what we do for them, and pray for us, they see these acts of
charity; they see these devoted women making themselves the slaves of
the poor, and sowing in tears, that they themselves may reap in joy. We
cannot also but believe that the prayers of the Holy Souls, and perhaps
their influence, contribute to the success of the mission carried on
for their sakes and in their name amidst the poor and suffering.
Several times when they have been invoked by the community, wonderful
cures have been vouchsafed and favors obtained. Instances of this kind
have excited the astonishment of physicians, and confirmed a pious
belief in the efficacy of those prayers. St. Catherine, of Bologna,
used to say, 'When I wish to obtain some favor from the Eternal Father,
I invoke the souls in the place of expiation, and charge them with the
petition I have to make to Him, and I feel I am heard through their
means.' Let us, then, if we feel inspired to do so, ask the prayers of
the souls in Purgatory; but, above all things, let us pray for them,
and, like these religious, join to our prayers acts of self-denying
charity towards the poor. Let us always remember, that to the Eternal
Lord of all things everything is present--the future as well as the
past. We call Him the King of Ages, because the order of events depends
wholly on His will, and nothing in their course or succession can alter
or change the effects of that will. He looks upon what is to come as if
it were present or already past. In consideration of the prayers, the
suffrages, and the good works of the Church, which He foresees, He
grants proportionate graces, even as if those prayers and good works
had been already offered up.... Amongst the Helpers of the Holy Souls
several have made great sacrifices to God in order to obtain mercy for
souls long ago called away from this world. We can all imitate their
example. 'Oh! if it was not too late!' is the cry of many a heart
tortured by anxiety for the fate of some loved one who has died
apparently out of the Church, or not in a state of grace. We answer,
'It is never too late. Pray; act; suffer. The Lord foresaw your
efforts. The Lord knew what was to come, and may have given to that
soul at its last hour some extraordinary graces, which snatched it from
destruction, and placed it in safety where your love may still reach
it, your prayers relieve, your sacrifices avail.'"

I could not resist closing this letter with these sentences, which have
raised the hopes and stimulated the courage of many mourners. I only
wish this imperfect sketch of the Order of Helpers of the Holy Souls,
and of the nature of their work, might prove a first though feeble step
towards the introduction amongst us at some future day of a Sisterhood
which, in the words used on his death-bed by Father Faber, the great
advocate amongst us of devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory,
"procures such immense glory to God."



[Footnote 1: Rev. John O'Brien, A.M., Prof. of Sacred Liturgy at Mt.
St. Mary's, Emmittsburg. "History of the Mass and its Ceremonies in the
Eastern and Western Churches."]

The Mass of Requiem is one celebrated in behalf of the dead.... If the
body of the deceased be present during its celebration, it enjoys
privileges that it otherwise would not, for it cannot be celebrated
unless within certain restrictions. Masses of this kind are accustomed
to be said in memory of the departed faithful, _first_, when the
person dies--or, as the Latin phrase has it, _dies obitus seu
deposifionis_, which means any day that intervenes from the day of
one's demise to his burial; _secondly_, on the third day after
death, in memory of Our Divine Lord's resurrection after three days'
interval; _thirdly_, on the seventh day, in memory of the mourning
of the Israelites seven days for Joseph (Gen. i. 10); _fourthly_,
on the thirtieth day, in memory of Moses and Aaron, whom the Israelites
lamented this length of time (Numb. xx.; Deut. xxxiv.); and, finally,
at the end of the year, or on the anniversary day itself (Gavant.,
Thesaur. Rit. 62). This custom also prevails with the Orientals.

During the early days it was entirely at the discretion of every priest
whether he said daily a plurality of Masses or not (Gavant., Thesaur.
Rit. p. 19). It was quite usual to say two Masses, one of the occurring
feast, the other for the benefit of the faithful departed. This
practice, however, kept gradually falling into desuetude until the time
of Pope Alexander II. (A. D. 1061-1073), when that pontiff decreed that
no priest should say more than one Mass on the same day.

* * * * *

Throughout the kingdom of Aragon, in Spain (including Aragon, Valentia,
and Catalonia), also in the kingdom of Majorca (a dependency of
Aragon), it is allowed each secular priest to say two Masses on the 2d
of November, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, and each
regular priest three Masses. This privilege is also enjoyed by the
Dominicans of the Monastery of St. James at Pampeluna (Benedict XIV.,
_De Sacrif. Missal Romae, ex. Congr. de Prof. Fide_, an. 1859
editio, p. 139). This grant, it is said, was first made either by Pope
Julius or Pope Paul III., and though often asked for afterwards by
persons of note, was never granted to any other country, or to any
place in Spain except those mentioned. For want of any very recent
information upon the subject, I am unable to say how far the privilege
extends at the present day. A movement is on foot, however, to petition
the Holy See for an extension of this privilege to the Universal
Church, in order that as much aid as possible may be given to the
suffering souls in Purgatory.

* * * * *

In case of a death occurring (amongst the Armenians) Mass is never
omitted. The Armenians say one on the day of burial and one on the
seventh, fifteenth, and fortieth after death; also one on the
anniversary day. This holy practice of praying for the dead and saying
Mass in their behalf is very common throughout the entire East, with
schismatics as well as Catholics.

* * * * *

As late as the sixteenth century, a very singular custom prevailed in
England--viz.: that of presenting at the altar during a Mass of Requiem
all the armor and military equipments of deceased knights and noblemen,
as well as their chargers. Dr. Kock (Church of our Fathers, II. 507),
tells us that as many as eight horses, fully caparisoned, used to be
brought into the church for this purpose at the burial of some of the
higher nobility. At the funeral of Henry VII., in Westminster Abbey,
after the royal arms had first been presented at the foot of the altar,
we are told that Sir Edward Howard rode into Church upon "a goodlie
courser," with the arms of England embroidered upon his trappings, and
delivered him to the abbots of the monastery (_ibid_). Something
similar happened at the Mass of Requiem for the repose of the soul of
Lord Bray in A. D. 1557, and at that celebrated for Prince Arthur, son
of Henry VII. (_ibid_).

* * * * *

As the priest begins to recite the memento for the dead, he moves his
hands slowly before his face, so as to have them united at the words
"_in somno pacis_." This gentle motion of the hands is aptly
suggestive here of the slow, lingering motion of a soul preparing to
leave the body, and the final union of the hands forcibly recalls to
mind the laying down of the body in its quiet slumber in the earth. As
this prayer is very beautiful, we transcribe it in full. It is thus
worded: "Remember, also, O Lord! Thy servants, male and female, who
have gone before us with the sign of faith and sleep in the sleep of
peace, N. N.; to them, O Lord! and to all who rest in Christ, we
beseech Thee to grant a place of refreshment, light, and peace; through
the same Christ our Lord. Amen." At the letters N. N. the names of the
particular persons to be prayed for among the departed were read out
from the diptychs in ancient times. When the priest comes to them now
he does not stop, but pauses awhile at "_in, somno pacis_" to make
his private memento of those whom he wishes to pray for in particular,
in which he is to be guided by the same rules that directed him in
making his memento for the living, only that here he cannot pray for
the conversion of any one, as he could there, for this solely relates
to the dead who are detained in Purgatory. Should the Holy Sacrifice be
offered for any soul among the departed which could not be benefited by
it, either because of the loss of its eternal salvation or its
attainment of the everlasting joys of heaven, theologians commonly
teach that in that case the fruit of the Mass would enter the treasury
of the Church, and be applied afterwards in such indulgences and the
like as Almighty God might suggest to the dispensers of his gift
(Suarez, _Disp._, xxxviii, sec. 8). We beg to direct particular
attention here to the expression "sleep of peace." That harsh word
_death_, which we now use, was seldom or never heard among the
early Christians when talking of their departed brethren. Death to them
was nothing else but a sleep until the great day of resurrection, when
all would rise up again at the sound of the angel's trumpet; and this
bright idea animated their minds and enlivened all their hopes when
conversing with their absent friends in prayer. So, too, with the place
of interment; it was not called by that hard name that distinguishes it
too often now, viz., the _grave-yard_, but was called by the
milder term of _cemetery,_ which, from its Greek derivation, means
a dormitory, or sleeping-place. Nor was the word _bury_ employed
to signify the consigning the body to the earth. No, this sounded too
profane in the ears of the primitive Christians; they rather chose the
word _depose_, as suggestive of the treasure that was put away
until it pleased God to turn it to better use on the final reckoning
day. The old Teutonic expression for cemetery was, to say the least of
it, very beautiful. The blessed place was called in this tongue
_gottes-acker_--that is, God's field--for the reason that the dead
were, so to speak, the seed sown in the ground from which would spring
the harvest reaped on the day of general resurrection in the shape of
glorified bodies. According to this beautiful notion, the stone which
told who the departed person was that lay at rest beneath, was likened
to the label that was hung upon a post by the farmer or gardener to
tell the passer-by the name of the flower that was deposited beneath.
This happy application of the word _sleep_ to death runs also
through Holy Scripture, where we frequently find such expressions as
"He slept with his fathers," "I have slept and I am refreshed," applied
from the third Psalm to our Divine Lord's time in the sepulchre; the
"sleep of peace," "he was gathered to his fathers," etc.

The prayers of the Orientals for the faithful departed are singularly
touching. In the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil the memento is worded
thus: "In like manner, O Lord! remember also all those who have already
fallen asleep in the priesthood and amidst the laity; vouchsafe to give
rest to their souls in the bosoms of our holy fathers, Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob; bring them into a place of greenness by the waters of
comfort, in the paradise of pleasure where grief and misery and sighing
are banished, in the brightness of the saints." The Orientals are very
much attached to ancient phraseology, and hence their frequent
application of "the bosom of Abraham" to that middle state of
purification in the next life which we universally designate by the
name of Purgatory. In the Syro-Jacobite Liturgy of John Bar Maadan,
part of the memento is thus worded: "Reckon them among the number of
Thine elect; cover them with the bright cloud of Thy saints; set them
with the lambs on Thy right hand, and bring them into Thy habitation."
The following extract is taken from the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom,
which, as we have said already, all the Catholic and schismatic Greeks
of the East follow: "Remember all those that are departed in the hope
of the resurrection to eternal life, and give them rest where the light
of Thy countenance shines upon them." But of all the Orientals, the
place of honor in this respect must be yielded to the Nestorians; for,
heretics as they are, too much praise cannot be given them for the
singular reverence they show towards their departed brethren. From a
work of theirs called the "Sinhados," which Badger quotes in his
"Nestorians and their Rituals," we take the following extract: "The
service of third day of the dead is kept up, because Christ rose on the
third day. On the ninth day, also, there should be a commemoration, and
again on the thirtieth day, after the example of the Old Testament,
since the people mourned for Moses that length of time. A year after,
also, there should be a particular commemoration of the dead, and some
of the property of the deceased should be given to the poor in
remembrance of him. We say this of believers; for, as to unbelievers,
should all the wealth of the world be given to the poor in their
behalf, it would profit them nothing." The Armenians call Purgatory by
the name _Goyan_--that is, a mansion. The Chaldeans style it
_Matthar_, the exact equivalent of our term. By some of the other
Oriental Churches it is called _Kavaran_, or place of penance; and
_Makraran_, a place of purification (Smith and Dwight, I. p. 169).

We could multiply examples at pleasure to prove that there is no church
in the East to which the name of Christian can be given that does not
look upon praying for the faithful departed, and offering the Holy Mass
for the repose of their souls, as a sacred and solemn obligation.
Protestants who would fain believe otherwise, and who not unfrequently
record differently in their writings about the Oriental Christians, can
verify our statements by referring to any Eastern Liturgy and examining
for themselves. We conclude our remarks on this head by a strong
argument in point from a very unbiased Anglican minister--the Rev. Dr.
John Mason Neale. Speaking of prayers for the dead in his work entitled
"A History of the Holy Eastern Church," general introduction, Vol. I.
p. 509, this candid-speaking man uses the following language: "I am not
now going to prove, what nothing but the blindest prejudice can deny,
that the Church, east, west, and south, has, with one consentient and
universal voice, even from Apostolic times, prayed in the Holy
Eucharist for the departed faithful."



["Wisdom conducted the just man through the right ways, and showed him
the kingdom of God, made him honorable in his labors, and accomplished
his works. She kept him safe from his enemies, and gave him a strong
conflict that he might overcome; and in bondage she left him not till
she brought him the sceptre of the kingdom, and power against those
that oppressed him, and gave him everlasting glory."--Wisdom x. [1] ]

[Footnote 1: From the funeral oration preached at Glassaevin Cemetery,
in May, 1869, on the occasion of the removal of the remains of the
Liberator to their final resting place.]

Nor was Ireland forgotten in the designs of God. Centuries of patient
endurance brought at length the dawn of a better day. God's hour came,
and it brought with it Ireland's greatest son, Daniel O'Connell. We
surround his grave to-day to pay him a last tribute of love, to speak
words of praise, of suffrage, and prayer. For two and twenty years has
he silently slept in the midst of us. His generation is passing away,
and the light of history already dawns upon his grave, and she speaks
his name with cold, unimpassioned voice. In this age of ours a few
years are as a century of times gone by. Great changes and startling
events follow each other in such quick succession that the greatest
names are forgotten almost as soon as those who bore them disappear,
and the world itself is surprised to find how short-lived is the fame
which promised to be immortal. The Church alone is the true shrine of
immortality--the temple of fame which perisheth not; and that man only
whose name and memory is preserved in her sanctuaries receives on this
earth a reflection of that glory which is eternal in heaven. But before
the Church will crown any one of her children, she carefully examines
his claims to the immortality of her gratitude and praise. She asks,
"What has he done for God and for man?" This great question am I come
here to answer to-day for him whose tongue, once so eloquent, is now
stilled in the silence of the grave, and over whose tomb a grateful
country has raised a monument of its ancient faith and a record of its
past glories; and I claim for him the need of our gratitude and love,
in that he was a man of faith, whom wisdom guided in "the right ways,"
who loved and sought "the kingdom of God," who was "most honorable in
his labors," and who accomplished his "great works;" the liberator of
his race, the father of his people, the conqueror in "the undented
conflict" of principle, truth and justice....

....Before him stretched, full and broad, the two ways of life, and he
must choose between them: the way which led to all that the world
prized--wealth, power, distinction, title, glory, and fame; the way of
genius, the noble rivalry of intellect, the association with all that
was most refined and refining--the way which led up to the council
chambers of the nation, to all places of jurisdiction and of honor, to
the temples wherein were enshrined historic names and glorious
memories, to a share in all blessings of privilege and freedom....
Before him opened another way. No gleam of sunshine illumined this way;
it was wet with tears--it was overshadowed by misfortune--_it was
pointed out to the young traveller of life by the sign of the
cross_, and he who entered it was bidden to leave all hope behind
him, for it led through the valley of humiliation, into the heart of a
fallen race, and an enslaved and afflicted people. I claim for
O'Connell the glory of having chosen this latter path, and this claim
no man can gainsay, for it is the argument of the Apostle in favor of
the great lawgiver of old--"By faith Moses" denied himself to be the
son of Pharoah's daughter.

....Into this way was he led by his love for his religion and his
country. He firmly believed in that religion in which He was born. He
had that faith which is common to all Catholics, and which is not
merely a strong opinion nor even a conviction, but an absolute and most
certain knowledge that the Catholic Church is the one and the only true
messenger and witness of God upon earth; and that to belong to her
communion and to possess her faith is the first and greatest of all
endowments and privileges, before which everything else sinks into
absolute nothing ... He was Irish of the Irish and Catholic of the
Catholic. His love for religion and country was as the breath of his
nostrils, the blood of his veins, and when he brought to the service of
both the strength of his faith and the power of his genius, with the
instinct of a true Irishman, his first thought was to lift up the
nation by striking the chains off the National Church. And here again,
two ways opened before him. One was a way of danger and of blood, and
the history of his country told him that it ever ended in defeat and in
great evil.... He saw that the effort to walk in it had swept away the
last vestige of Ireland's national legislature and independence. But
another path was still open to him, and wisdom pointed it out as "the
right way." Another battle-field lay before him on which he could
"fight the good fight" and vindicate all the rights of his religion and
of his country. The armory was furnished by the inspired Apostle when
he said: ... "Having your loins girt about with truth, and having on
the breast-plate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of
the Gospel of Peace, in all things taking the shield of faith.... And
take unto you the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word." O'Connell
knew well that such weapons in such a hand as his were irresistible--
that girt around with the truth and justice of his cause, he was clad
in the armor of the Eternal God, that with words of peace and order on
his lips, with the strong shield of faith before him and the sword of
eloquent speech in his hand, with the war-cry of obedience, principle,
and law, no power on earth could resist him, for it is the battle of
God, and nothing can resist the Most High.

* * * * *

... He who was the Church's liberator and most true son, was also the
first of Ireland's statesmen and patriots. Our people remember well, as
their future historian will faithfully record, the many trials borne
for them, the many victories gained in their cause, the great life
devoted to them by O'Connell. Lying, however, at the foot of the altar,
as he is to-day, whilst the Church hallows his grave with prayer and
sacrifice, it is more especially as the Catholic Emancipator of his
people that we place a garland on his tomb. It is as the child of the
Church that we honor him, and recall with tears of sorrow our
recollections of the aged man, revered, beloved, whom all the glory of
the world's admiration and the nation's love had never lifted up in
soul out of the holy atmosphere of Christian humility and simplicity.
Obedience to the Church's laws, quick zeal for her honor and the
dignity of her worship, a spirit of penance refining whilst it
expiated, chastening while it ennobled all that was natural in the man;
constant and frequent use of the Church's holy sacraments which shed
the halo of grace around his venerated head,--these were the last grand
lessons which he left to his people, and thus did the sun of his life
set in the glory of Christian holiness.

.... In the triumph of Catholic Emancipation, he pointed out to the
Irish people the true secret of their strength, the true way of
progress, and the sure road to victory.... Time, which buries in utter
oblivion so many names and so many memories, will exalt him in his
work. The day has already dawned and is ripening into its perfect noon,
when Irishmen of every creed will remember O'Connell, and celebrate him
as the common friend, and the greatest benefactor of their country.
What man is there, even of those whom our age has called great, whose
name, so many years after his death, could summon so many loving hearts
around his tomb? We, to-day, are the representatives not only of a
nation but of a race.... Where is the land that has not seen the face
of our people and heard their voice? And wherever, even to the ends of
the earth, an Irishman is found to-day, his spirit and his sympathy are
here. The millions of America are with us--the Irish Catholic soldier
on India's plains is present amongst us by the magic of love--the Irish
sailor standing by the wheel this moment in far-off silent seas, where
it is night, and the Southern stars are shining, joins his prayer with
ours, and recalls the glorious image and the venerated name of
O'Connell. ... He is gone, but his fame shall live forever on the
earth, as a lover of God and of His people. Adversities, political and
religious, he had many, and like a

"Tower of strength
Which stood full square to all the winds that blew,"

the Hercules of justice and of liberty stood up against them. Time,
which touches all things with mellowing hand, has softened the
recollections of past contests, and they who once looked upon him as a
foe, now only remember the glory of the fight, and the mighty genius of
him who stood forth the representative man of his race, and the
champion of his people. They acknowledge his greatness, and they join
hands with us to weave the garland of his fame.

But far other, higher and holier are the feelings of Irish Catholics
all the world over to-day. They recognize in the dust which we are
assembled to honor, the powerful arm which promoted them, the eloquent
tongue which proclaimed their rights and asserted their freedom, the
strong hand which, like that of the Maccabees of old, first struck off
their chains and then built up their holy altars. They, mingling the
supplication of prayer and the gratitude of suffrage with their tears,
recall--oh! with how much love--the memory of him who was a Joseph to
Israel--their tower of strength, their buckler, and their shield--who
shed around their homes, their altars, and their graves the sacred
light of religious liberty, and the glory of unfettered worship. "His
praise is in the Church," and this is the pledge of the immortality of
his glory. "A people's voice" may be "the proof and echo of all Human
fame," but the voice of the undying Church, is the echo of "everlasting
glory," and, when those who surround his grave to-day shall have passed
away, all future generations of Irishmen to the end of time will be
reminded of his name and glory.


Towards the middle of the fourth century, four pilgrims from Palestine
came to settle in the neighborhood of Assisi, and built a chapel there.
Nearly two centuries after, this little chapel passed into the hands of
the monks of St. Benedict, who owned some lots, or _portions_ of
land, in the vicinity, whence came the name of _Portiuncula_,
given first to those little plots of ground, and afterwards to the
chapel itself. St. Bonaventure says that, later still, it was called
"Our Lady of Angels," because the heavenly spirits frequently appeared

St. Francis, at the outset of his penitential life, going one day
through the fields about Assisi, heard a voice which said to him: "Go,
repair my house!" He thought the Lord demanded of him to repair the
sanctuaries in which He was worshipped, and, amongst others, the Church
of St. Damian, a little way from Assisi, which was falling to decay.

He went to work, therefore, begging in the streets of Assisi, and
crying out: "He who giveth me a stone shall have one blessing--he who
giveth me two, shall have two."

Meanwhile, Francis often bent his steps towards the little chapel of
the Portiuncula, built about half a league from Assisi, in a fertile
valley, in the midst of a profound solitude. The place had great charms
for him, and he resolved to take up his abode there, but as the little
chapel was urgently in need of repair, he undertook to do it,
following, as he thought, the orders he had received from Heaven. He
made himself a cell in the hollow of a neighboring rock, and there
spent several years in great austerities. Some disciples, having joined
him, inhabited caverns which they found in the rocks around, and some
built themselves cells. This was the origin of the Order of St.
Francis. The _Portiuncula_, or Our Lady of Angels, afterwards
given to the holy penitent by the Benedictine Abbot of Monte Soubasio,
thus became the cradle of the three orders founded by the Seraphic
Patriarch, and is unspeakably dear to every child of St. Francis. [1]

[Footnote 1: The little chapel of the Portiuncula is now inclosed
beneath the dome of the great basilica of Our Lady of Angels, built to
preserve it from the injuries of the weather. It stands there still
with its rough, antique walls, in all the prestige of its marvellous
past. "I know not what perfume of holy poverty," says a pious author,
"exhales from that venerable chapel. The pavement within is literally
worn by the knees of the pious faithful, and their repeated and burning
kisses have left their imprint on its walls."]

Francis, in the midst of his prodigious austerities, living always in
the greatest privation, united, nevertheless, the most tender
compassion for men and a marvellous love for poverty. He prayed above
all, and with tears and groans, for the conversion of sinners. But one
night--it was in October, 1221--Francis being inspired with a greater
love and a deeper pity for men who were offending their God and
Saviour, shedding torrents of tears, macerating his body, already
attenuated by excessive mortifications, hears, all at once, the voice
of an Angel commanding him to repair to the chapel of the Portiuncula.
Ravished with joy, he rises immediately, and entering with profound
respect into the chapel, he falls prostrate on the ground, to adore the
majesty of God. He then sees Our Lord Jesus Christ, who appears to him,
accompanied by His Holy Mother and a great multitude of Angels, and
says to him: "Francis, thou and thy brethren have a great zeal for the
salvation of souls; indeed, you have been placed as a torch in the
world and as the support of the Church. Ask, then, whatsoever thou wilt
for the welfare and consolation of nations, and for My glory."

In the midst of the wonders which ravished him, Francis made this
prayer: "Our most holy Father, I beseech Thee, although I am but a
miserable sinner, to have the goodness to grant to men, that all those
who shall visit this Church may receive a plenary indulgence of all
their sins, after having confessed to a priest; and I beseech the
Blessed Virgin, Thy Mother, the advocate of mankind, to intercede, that
I may obtain this favor."

The merciful Virgin interceded, and Our Lord said to Francis: "What
thou dost ask is great, nevertheless thou shalt receive still greater
favors. I grant it to thee, but I will that it be ratified on earth by
him to whom I have given the power of binding and loosening."

The companions of the Saint overheard this colloquy between Our Lord
and St. Francis; they beheld numerous troops of Angels, and a great
light that filled the Church, but a respectful fear prevented them from

Next day Francis set out, accompanied by one of his brethren, and
repaired to Perugia, where Pope Honorius III. then was. The Saint,
introduced to the Pontiff, repeated the order he had received from Our
Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and conjured him not to refuse what the Son
of God had been pleased to grant him.

"But," said the Sovereign Pontiff, "thou askest of me something very
great, and the Roman Court is not wont to grant such an indulgence."
"Most Holy Father," replied Francis, "I ask it not of myself; it is
Jesus Christ who sendeth me. I come on His behalf." Wherefore the Pope
said publicly three times: _"I will that thou have it."_

The Cardinals made several objections; but Honorius, at length
convinced of the will of God, granted most liberally, most
gratuitously, and in perpetuity, this indulgence solicited so
earnestly, yet with so much humility, _but only during one natural
day, from evening till evening, including the night, till sunset on the
following day._

At these words, Francis humbly bowed his head. As he was going away,
the Pope demanded of him: "Whither goest thou, simple man? What
assurance hast thou of that which thou hast obtained?" "Holy Father,"
he replied, "thy word is sufficient for me; if this Indulgence be the
work of God, He Himself will make it manifest. Let Jesus Christ, His
holy Mother and the Angels be in that regard, notary, paper and
witness; I ask no other authentic act." Such was the effect of the
great confidence he felt in the truth of the apparition.

The Indulgence of the Portiuncula had been two years granted, and still
the day when the faithful might gain it was not fixed. Francis waited
till Jesus Christ, the first Author of a grace so precious, should
determine it.

Meanwhile, one night, when Francis was at prayer in his cell, the
tempter suggested to him to diminish his penances: feeling the malice
of the demon, he goes into the woods, and rolls himself amongst briers
and thorns until he is covered with blood. A great light shines around
him, he sees a quantity of white and red roses all about, although it
is the month of January, in a very severe winter. God had changed the
thorny shrubs into magnificent rose-bushes, which have ever since
remained green and without thorns, and covered with red and white
roses. [1] Angels, who appeared then in great numbers, said to him:
"Francis, hasten to the church; Jesus is there with His holy Mother."
At the same moment, he was clothed in a spotless white habit, and
having reached the church, after a profound obeisance, he made this
prayer: "Our Father, Most Holy Lord of heaven and earth, Saviour of
mankind, vouchsafe, through Thy great mercy, to fix the day for the
Indulgence Thou hast had the goodness to grant." Our Lord replied that
He would have it to be from the evening of the day on which the Apostle
St. Peter was bound with chains till the following day. He then ordered
Francis to present himself to his vicar, and give him some white and
red roses in proof of the truth of the fact, and to bring some of his
companions who might bear testimony of what they had heard.

[Footnote 1: "We have received from Rome," says the editor of the
"Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory," "some leaves from these miraculous
rose-bushes. We will willingly give some to the devout clients of St.

The Pope, convinced by proofs so incontestable, confirmed the
Indulgence with all its privileges.

The Indulgence of the Portiuncula, was soon known throughout the whole
world; and the prodigies which were seen wrought every year at St. Mary
of Angels, excited the devotion of the faithful to gain it. Many times
there were seen there fifty thousand, and even a hundred thousand
persons assembled together from all parts.

Meanwhile, in order to facilitate the means of gaining an Indulgence so
admirable, the Sovereign Pontiffs extended it to all the churches of
the three Orders of St. Francis, and it may be gained by all the
faithful indiscriminately. "Of all Indulgences," said Bourdaloue, "that
of the Portiuncula is one of the surest and most authentic that there
is in the Church, since it is an Indulgence granted immediately by
Jesus Christ, a privilege peculiar to itself, and this Indulgence has
spread amongst all Christian people with a marvellous progress of
souls, and a sensible increase of piety."

The Indulgence of the Great Pardon has another very special privilege;
it is, that it may be gained _totus quotus_--that is to say, as
often as one visits a church to which it is attached, and prays for the
Sovereign Pontiff; and this privilege may be enjoyed from the 1st of
August about two o'clock in the afternoon, till sunset on the following

Pope Boniface VIII. said that it is "most pious to gain that Indulgence
several times for oneself; for, although by the first gaining of a
plenary Indulgence, the penalty be remitted, by seeking to gain it
again, one receives an augmentation of grace and of glory that crowns
all their good works." Besides, this Indulgence can be applied to the
Souls in Purgatory, as it can be also gained for the living by way of
satisfaction, provided they be in the state of grace.

It was one day revealed to St. Margaret of Cortona that the Souls in
Purgatory eagerly look forward every year to the Feast of Our Lady of
Angels, because it is a day of deliverance for a great number of them.

While speaking of the Indulgence of the Portiuncula, we are naturally
disposed to say a few words in regard to the grievous outrage recently
committed on that place, venerated for more than six hundred years by
all Christian nations, and manifestly chosen as the object of divine
predilection by all the prodigies there wrought.

The Italian government had unlawfully, and in a sacrilegious manner,
possessed itself of the Convent of the Portiuncula; and notwithstanding
the protest of all the members of the Order of St. Francis, and the
indignation excited by so arbitrary an act in every Catholic heart,
those iniquitous men put it up for sale, and actually sold it by public
auction. The Minister General of the Franciscan Order, unwilling that
this brightest gem of the Franciscan crown should fall into impious
hands, resolved to have it purchased for him by a lay person. But how
was this to be done, when he had no revenue, often not means enough for
necessary expenses? a grave question, truly, for the children of St.
Francis, who might have seen themselves bereft of the cradle of their
Order, were it not that, at the critical moment, a man of a truly
Christian heart came forward and advanced the thirty-four thousand
francs, the price to which their precious relic had been raised. Thus,
God would not permit that so many memories connected with His servant
Francis should be effaced from the earth, although they would still
have lived in the hearts of his children, and the Friars Minors are
still the owners and possessors of that venerable sanctuary. [1]--
_Almanac of the Souls in Purgatory_, 1881.

[Footnote 1: Nevertheless, means must be taken to pay back this sum so
seasonably advanced. Hence it is, that at the request of the Minister
General of the Franciscans, Father Marie, of Brest, has made a touching
appeal to all friends of the Order and of justice, and has opened
subscription lists wherever there are children of St. Francis, and
there are children of St. Francis all over the world. These lists, with
the names of the pious donors, shall be sent to Assisium, to be
preserved there in the very sanctuary of the Portiuncula.--ED. AL.]


Catherine of Cardona was born in the very highest rank. She was but
eight years old when she lost her father, Raymond of Cardona, who was
descended from the kings of Aragon. Catherine had already made herself
remarkable by her love of prayer, solitude, and mortification, and by
her admirable fidelity to grace she had drawn down upon herself, at an
age still so tender, the signal favor of Heaven.

One day, whilst absorbed in prayer in her little oratory, her father
appeared to her enveloped in the flames of Purgatory, and, conjuring
her to deliver him, he said to her: "Daughter, I shall remain in this
fire until thou hast done penance for me." With a heart full of
compassion, Catherine promised her father to satisfy the divine justice
for him, and the vision disappeared.

From that moment Catherine, rising above the weakness of her age and
sex, applied herself to those amazing austerities which have made her a
prodigy of penance. To open Heaven to her father, she freely sheds, in
bloody scourgings, the first fruits of that virginal blood which is to
flow for half a century in innumerable torments. Magnanimous child, she
is already the martyr of filial piety, but her tears, her
mortifications, her prayers have disarmed the divine justice and
discharged the paternal debt. Raymond, resplendent with the glory of
the blessed, appears again to his daughter, and addresses her in these
words: "God has accepted thy penance, my daughter, and I go to enjoy
His glory. By that penance, thou hast become so pleasing to Jesus
Christ that He has chosen thee for His spouse. Continue all thy life to
immolate thyself as a victim for the salvation of souls; such is His
divine will."

With these words, which filled the heart of Catherine with joy
unspeakable, he goes to Heaven to sing the mercies of his God, and to
intercede with Him, in his turn, for the beloved daughter who was his

Oh! happy, thrice happy Catherine! Whilst accomplishing an act of
filial piety, she gained the title of Spouse of Christ, and secured for
herself a powerful intercessor in heaven.--_Almanac of the Souls in
Purgatory, 1881._

The life of the little Catherine was so admirable that we cannot resist
the desire of giving some extracts from it here. It will be so much the
more appropriate that her whole life was consecrated to the relief of
the souls in Purgatory and the salvation of men.

Overwhelmed with the happiness of seeing herself chosen for the spouse
of the God of Virgins, Catherine consecrates herself entirely to Him,
and promises inviolable fidelity to Him. Rejoiced to belong to the same
Spouse as the Agathas and Agnesses, she makes a vow of perpetual
virginity, and exclaims in the fullness of her bliss: "Thou alone, mine
Adorable Beloved, Thou alone shalt reign over my heart, Thou alone
shalt have dominion over it for all eternity!" Then Jesus invisibly
places on her finger the marriage ring, and endows with strength her
who aspires only to die with Him on the cross.

Catherine, who, after the death of her father, was placed under the
care of the Princess of Salerno, a near relative of her mother, leads
in the palace of the princess a life no less rigorous than that of the
penitents of the desert; but she will have no other witness of it than
He by whom she alone desires to be loved. Condemned by her rank to wear
rich clothing, she values only the glorious vesture of the soul, which
is grace. The hair-cloth that macerates her flesh is her chosen
garment. At that age, when people allow themselves to be dazzled by the
world, Catherine of Cardona has trampled it beneath her feet, and later
on, becoming entirely free from the slavery of the world, she retires
to the Capuchin Convent at Naples, and there prepares, by a seclusion
of twenty-five years, to give to the great ones of the earth an example
of the most sublime virtues. Called by the Princess of Salerno to share
her disfavor with the king, she hesitates not to quit her dear
solitude, and repairs to Spain, in 1557. Her presence at Valladolid was
an eloquent sermon, and produced the happiest fruits in souls. The
Princess died at the end of two years; and Philip II., knowing the
wisdom of Catherine, kept her at the Court, appointing her as governess
to Don Carlos, his son, and the young Don Juan of Austria, afterwards
the hero of Lepanto.

In 1562, Our Lord, in a vision, says to Catherine: "Depart from this
palace; retire to a solitary cave, where thou mayest more freely apply
thyself to prayer and penance." At these words, the soul of Catherine
is inundated with joy, and she feels that no worldly obstacle could
restrain her. She would fain set out forthwith, but her spiritual
guides opposed her doing so. Finally, after many trials, whilst she was
in prayer, before the dawn, the crucifix she wore hanging from her
neck, suddenly rose into the air, and said: "Follow me!" She followed
it to a window on the ground-floor; and although it was fastened with
great iron bars, Catherine, without knowing how, found herself in the
street. Transported with joy at this new miracle, she flew to the place
where the Hermit of Alcada and another priest were waiting to conduct
her to the desert. Seeing the heroic virgin, they blessed Him who had
thus broken her chains. In order that she might not be recognized they
cut off her hair, gave her a hermit's robe, and set out without delay.
Arriving at a small hill about four leagues from Roda, Catherine said
to her guides: "Here it is that God will have me take up my abode; let
us go no farther." After a careful search they discovered amongst
thorny hedges difficult to get through, a species of grotto
sufficiently deep; but the entrance thereto was so narrow, and the roof
so low, that Catherine, who was of medium height and rather full
figure, could hardly stand upright in it. The two guides of the holy
recluse, taking leave of her, left her some instruments of penance, and
three loaves, for all provision. There it was that the daughter of the
Duke of Cardona commenced, in 1562, that admirable life which has been
the wonder of all succeeding ages.

Teresa, the seraphic Teresa, who lived at that time not far from
Catherine's solitude, cried out in a transport of admiration: "Oh! how
great must be the love that transported her, since she thought neither
of food, nor danger, nor the disgrace her flight might bring upon her;
what must be the intoxication of that holy soul, flying thus to the
desert, solely engrossed by the desire of enjoying there without
obstacle the presence of her Spouse! And how firm must be her
resolution to break with the world, since she thus fled from all its

St. Teresa adds that Catherine spent more than eight years in this
desert cave, that after having exhausted the small provision of three
loaves left her by the hermit who had served her as a guide, she had
lived solely on roots and wild herbs, but that, after several years,
she met with a shepherd, who thenceforward faithfully supplied her with
bread, of which she, nevertheless, ate but once in three days. The
discipline which she took with a large chain lasted often for an hour
and a half, and sometimes two hours. Her hair-cloth was so rough that a
woman, returning from a pilgrimage, having asked hospitality of her,
told me (it is still St. Teresa who speaks), that feigning sleep, she
saw the holy recluse take off her hair-cloth and wipe it clean, for it
was full of blood. The warfare she had to sustain against the demons
made her suffer still more than her austerities; she told our sisters
that they appeared to her, now in the form of great dogs who sprang on
her shoulders, and now in that of snakes; but do as they might, they
could not make her afraid.

She heard Mass in a convent of the Sisters of Mercy, a quarter of a
league distant; sometimes she made the journey on her knees. She wore a
tunic of coarse serge, and over that a robe of drugget so fashioned
that she was taken for a man.

Nevertheless, the fame of her sanctity soon spread everywhere, and the
people conceived so great a veneration for her that they flocked from
every side, so that, on certain days, the surrounding country was
covered with vehicles full of people going to see her.

"About this time," says St. Teresa, "she was seized with a great desire
to found near her cave a monastery of religious, but being undecided in
her choice of the order, she postponed for a time the execution of her
design. One day while at prayer before a crucifix which she always
carried about her, Our Lord showed her a white mantle, and gave her to
understand that she was to found a monastery of barefooted Carmelites.
She knew not till then that such an order existed, as she had never
heard it mentioned; indeed, we had then but two monasteries of reformed
Carmelites, that of Moncera and that of Pastrana. Catherine was
speedily informed of the existence of this last. As Pastrana belonged
to the Princess of Eboli, her former friend, she set out for that town
with the firm resolution of doing what Our Lord had enjoined her to do.
It was at Pastrana, in the church of our religious, that the Blessed
Catherine took the habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, having no
intention, notwithstanding that act, to embrace the religious life. Our
Lord conducted her by another way, and she never felt any attraction
towards that state. What kept her away from it was the fear of being
obliged through obedience to moderate her austerities and quit her

As she had worn man's apparel ever since she had been in the desert,
she would not now change it. So, in laying aside her hermit's robe, and
assuming that of Carmel, she took a habit like that of the barefooted
Carmelite monks, and wore it till her last breath. In this Catherine
was led by a very special way.

Catherine had been preceded at Pastrana by the account of the wonders
which had marked the eight years she had spent in her cave; she was
thus greeted as a saint as soon as she appeared; no one was surprised
to see her in her Carmelite habit, a cowl on her head, a white mantle
on her shoulders, a robe of coarse drugget, and a leathern girdle. God
permitted the appearance of Catherine at the court of Philip II. as a
virgin with the heart of a man, victorious over all the weakness, of
her sex, and rivalling in her austerities the most famous penitents of
the desert. At the Escurial, she observed the same abstinence as in her
hermitage; there, as in her cave, she took but one hour's sleep, and
gave to prayer the rest of the time at her disposal.

From the Escurial, Catherine returned to Madrid. From the carriage in
which she rode, she gave her blessing to the multitudes who crowded the
road as she passed. ... The Nuncio, having sent for her, reproached her
for wearing the apparel of a man, and for taking it upon her to give
her blessing, like a bishop. The humble virgin heard all prostrate on
the ground. When the Nuncio had finished speaking, she arose and
justified herself with that holy simplicity peculiar to herself. The
legate of the Holy See, perceiving then that God was leading the
Blessed Catherine by an extraordinary way, left her at liberty to wear
that costume, blessed her, and recommended himself to her prayers.

In Madrid Catherine again met Don Juan of Austria, who had been
appointed Generalissimo of the Christian fleet directed against the
Turks. He gave her the name of mother, and regarded her as a Saint.
After having given some wise counsel to the young prince, she predicted
to him that he should obtain a victory over the enemies of the
Christian name. It was a happy day in the life of Don Juan on which he
heard these prophetic words. Kneeling on the ground, with clasped hands
and tearful eyes, the future liberator of Christendom asked Catherine's
blessing, and arose with a heart strengthened by an invincible hope.

The Carmelites of Toledo, amongst whom she spent some time, endeavoring
to persuade her to diminish her austerities a little, she replied in
these memorable words, which reveal to us the secret of her life: "When
one has seen, as I have, what Purgatory and Hell are, one cannot do too
much to draw souls from one, and preserve them from the other; I may
not spare myself, since I have offered myself in sacrifice for them."

On the 7th October, 1571, Catherine was warned by a light from above
that the great combat against the Turks was to take place that day. She
macerated herself with fearful rigor, and offered herself as a victim
to the anger of God, justly indignant at the sins of His people. She
addressed to the Saviour of men the most tender supplications, when,
all at once, seized with a holy transport, she uttered in a distinct
voice these words, which were heard by several persons of the Court: "O
Lord, the hour is come, help Thy Church; give the victory to the
Catholic chiefs; have pity on so many kingdoms which are Thine own,
preserve them from ruin! The wind is against us: my God, if Thou order
it not to change, we perish!"

Some time after, she cried out in a still stronger voice: "Blessed be
Thou, O Lord, Thou hast changed the wind at the needful moment; finish
what Thou hast begun!" After these words she prayed in silence for a
long space of time. Then, starting up joyfully, she offered to God the
most lively thanksgivings for the victory He had just granted to His

Soon, in fact, the news of the victory of Lepanto confirmed the
miraculous vision of Catherine. Don Juan wrote immediately to the
venerable Catherine of Cardona, thanking her for her prayers, and sent
her, as a memento, some spoils taken from the enemy.

Catherine having received, at the Court and elsewhere, sufficient means
to found her monastery, regained her solitude in the month of March,
1572. She lived there five years longer. It has been considered as a
supernatural thing that mortifications so extraordinary as hers had not
ended her life sooner. She died on the 11th of May, 1577.

"One day," says St. Teresa, "after having received communion in the
church of this monastery (that which Catherine had founded), I entered
into a profound recollection, which was soon followed by an ecstasy.
Whilst I was thus ravished out of myself, that holy woman appeared to
my intellectual vision, resplendent with light like a glorified body,
and surrounded by angels. She said to me: 'Weary not of founding
monasteries, but rather pursue that work with ardor.' I understood,
albeit that she did not say so, that she was assisting me with God.
This apparition left me exceedingly comforted, and inflamed with the
desire of working for Our Lord's glory. Hence, I hope from His divine
goodness and the powerful prayers of that Saint, that I may be able to
do something for His service."


Heretics or Schismatics care very little about contradicting
themselves. It is of the nature of the iniquity of lying. The _Anti
de la Religion_, of March 1, 1851, judiciously observes:

"It is well known that the Russian Church pretends not to admit the
doctrine of Purgatory, which one of its principal prelates set down as
'_a crude modern invention._' Nevertheless, the manifesto recently
published by the Emperor Nicholas, on the death of his mother, the
Grand Duchess Elizabeth, Duchess of Nassau, concludes with these words:
'We are convinced that all our faithful subjects will unite their
prayers with ours, _for the repose of the soul_ of the deceased.'
How are we to reconcile this request for prayers with the denial of
Purgatory, coming as it does from the mouth of the supreme pontiff of
the Church of Russia?"--"_Christian Anecdotes._"



Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. My days are like a shadow;
that declineth, and I am withered like grass; but thou, O Lord, shall,
endure forever.--Ps. cii., verses 10, 11, 12.

Yes! O my God! You lift up and you cast down; you humble and you exalt
the sons of men. You cut off the breath of princes, and are terrible to
the kings of the earth. It is then we know your power, when, by the
stroke of death, we feel what we are, that our life is but as a shadow
that declineth, a vapor dispersed by the beams of the rising sun, or as
the grass which loses at noon the verdure it had acquired from the
morning dew. It is a truth of which we, are made sensible upon this
mournful occasion, and in this sacred temple, where the trophies of
death are displayed, and its image reflected on every side. The
mournful accents of the solemn dirge, the sable drapery that lines
these walls, the vestments of the ministers of the sacred altar, this
artificial darkness which is a figure of the darkness of the grave;--
the tapers that blaze around the sanctuary to put us in mind that when
our mortal life is extinct, there is an immortal life beyond the grave,
in a kingdom of light and bliss reserved for those who walk on earth by
the light of the gospel;--that tomb, in which the tiara and the
sceptre, the Pontifical dignity, and the power of the temporal prince,
are covered over with a funeral shroud,--every object that strikes the
eye, and every sound that vibrates on the ear, is an awful memento
which reminds us of our approaching dissolution, points out the vanity
and nothingness of all earthly grandeur, and convinces, us that in
holiness of life, which unites us to God and secures an immortal crown
in the enjoyment of the sovereign good, consists the greatness as well
as the happiness of man. An awful truth exemplified in many great
characters, hurled from the summit of power and grandeur into an abyss
of woe, whose unshaken virtue supported them under the severest trials,
and whose greatness of soul shone conspicuous in their fall as well as
in their elevation. A truth particularly exemplified in His Holiness
Pope Pius VI., whose obsequies we are assembled to solemnize on this
day--Pius VI. great in prosperity; Pius VI. great in adversity.

When his life is written by an impartial hand, when his contemporaries
are dead, when history lays open the hidden and mysterious springs of
the events connected with his reign, and posterity erects a tribunal,
at which it is to judge, without dread of giving offence, then his
virtues and wisdom will appear in their true light, as the symmetry and
proportion of those beautiful statues, which are placed in the
porticoes or entrance of temples and public edifices, are better
discovered, and seen to a greater advantage at a certain distance.

* * * * *

Though His life was spotless, yet as the judgments of God are
unsearchable, as there is such a quantity of dross mixed with our
purest gold, such chaff with our purest grain, our purest virtues
tarnished with so many imperfections, that on appearing in the presence
of God, into whose Kingdom the slightest stain is not admitted, who can
say, "My soul is pure; I have nothing to answer for?" as in our belief,
divine justice may inflict temporary as well as eternal punishments
beyond the grave, according to the quality of unexpiated offences, let
us perform the sacred rites of our holy religion for the repose of his
soul. [1]

[Footnote 1: These extracts are taken from the funeral oration on Pius
VI, delivered at St. Patrick's Chapel, Soho, in presence of Monsignore
Erskine, Papal Auditor, on the 10th Nov., 1799.]



My brethren, as it is God alone, that searcher of hearts, who can truly
appreciate the merits of His elect, as it belongs only to the Holy
Catholic Church, "_that pillar and ground of truth_," to canonize
them, as we know that nothing impure can enter into heaven, and that
Moses himself, that great legislator, and peculiar favorite of heaven,
was not entirely spotless in the discharge of his ministry, nor exempt
from temporal punishment at his death, let us no longer interrupt the
awful mysteries and impressive ceremonies of religion, but, uniting,
and, as it were, embodying our prayers and fervent supplications, let
us offer a holy violence to heaven; while we mingle our tears with the
precious blood of the spotless Victim offered in sacrifice on our
hallowed altar, let us implore the Father of Mercies, through the
merits and passion of His adorable Son, our merciful Redeemer, to
purify this His minister, and admit him to a participation of the
never-ending joys of the heavenly Jerusalem. May he rest in peace.


[From a Sermon delivered by Most Rev. ARCHBISHOP CORRIGAN, of NEW YORK,

Remember your prelates who have spoken the Word of God to you. Heb. c.
xiii. v. 2.

Of the forty-six Fathers who sat in the Second Plenary Council, only
sixteen still survive. More than this. During the few years that have
since elapsed not only have thirty bishops and archbishops gone to the
house of their eternity, but in several instances, their successors,
too, have passed away, so that the Solemn Requiem offered this morning
for the prelates who have died since the last Council is chanted for
forty-two consecrated rulers. For these, "as it is a good and wholesome
thought to pray for the dead," we send up our sighs and our prayers in
the spirit of fraternal charity, and as a tribute of love and gratitude
to our Fathers in the faith who had the burden of the day and the heat,
and who now rest from their labors. "Blessed are the dead who die in
the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit,... for their works
follow them."

In the commemorative services and solemn supplications offered in this
cathedral, the first place, dear brethren, is deservedly due to your
own lamented archbishops.... Besides these, memory turns, with fond
regret, to a long list of Right Reverend Prelates, who were all present
at the late Plenary Council, and who have since, one by one, passed
away.... As we repeat each well-known name, hosts of pleasant memories
come crowding on the mind just as by-gone scenes are awakened to new
life by some sweet strain of once familiar music. Venerable forms loom
up again before us with the paternal kindness, the distinguished
presence, the winning ways we knew so well of old; and while the vision
lasts we seem to hear a still small voice saying: "To-day for me, to-
morrow for thee," or the echo of the words spoken by the wise woman of
Thecua to the king on his throne: "We all die, and fall down into the
earth, like waters that return no more."

"Star differeth from star in glory." The bishops, whose virtues we
commemorate, differed in gifts of mind, in habits of thought, in
nationality, in early training, in personal experience, in almost
everything else but their common faith. This golden bond united them to
each other and to us. There was still another point of resemblance and
another link that bound them all together--the participation in the
divine work of the Good Shepherd which was laid upon them all....



The fuel justice layeth on,
And mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Is men's defiled souls.--SOUTHWELL.




Thus we see how, as time went on, the doctrine of Purgatory was brought
home to the minds of the faithful as a portion or form of penance due
for post-baptismal sin. And thus the apprehension of this doctrine, and
the practice of Infant Baptism, would grow into general reception
together. Cardinal Fisher gives another reason for Purgatory being then
developed out of earlier points of faith. He says: "Faith, whether in
Purgatory or in Indulgences, was not so necessary in the Primitive
Church as now; for then love so burned that every one was ready to meet
death for Christ. Crimes were rare; and such as occurred were avenged
by the great severity of the Canons.... The doctrine of post-baptismal
sin, especially when realized in the doctrine of Purgatory, leads the
inquirer to fresh developments beyond itself. Its effect is to convert
a Scripture statement, which might seem only of temporary application,
into a universal and perpetual truth. When St. Paul and St. Barnabas
would 'confirm the souls of the disciples,' they taught them 'that we
must, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.' It is
obvious what very practical results would follow on such an
announcement in the instance of those who accepted the apostolic
decision; and, in like manner, a conviction that sin must have its
punishment, here or hereafter, and that we all must suffer, how
overpowering will be its effect, what a new light does it cast on the
history of the soul, what a change does it make in our judgment of the
external world, what a reversal of our natural wishes and aims for the
future! Is a doctrine conceivable which would so elevate the mind above
this present state, and teach it so successfully to dare difficult
things, and to be reckless of danger and pain? He who believes that
suffer he must, and that delayed punishment may be the greater, will be
above the world, will admire nothing, fear nothing, desire nothing. He
has within his breast a source of greatness, self-denial, heroism. This
is the secret spring of strenuous efforts and persevering toil; of the
sacrifice of fortune, friends, ease, reputation, happiness. There is,
it is true, a higher class of motives which will be felt by the Saints;
who will do from love what all Christians who act acceptably do from
faith. And, moreover, the ordinary measures of charity which Christians
possess suffice for securing such respectable attention to religious
duties as the routine necessities of the Church require. But, if we
would raise an army of devoted men to resist the world, to oppose sin
and error, to relieve misery, or to propagate truth, we must be
provided with motives which keenly affect the many. Christian love is
too rare a gift, philanthropy is too weak a material, for that
occasion. Nor is there an influence to be found to suit our purpose
besides this solemn conviction, which arises out of the very rudiments
of Christian theology, and is taught by its most ancient masters,--this
sense of the awfulness of post-baptismal sin. It is in vain to look out
for missionaries for China or Africa, or evangelists for our great
towns, or Christian attendants on the sick, or teachers of the
ignorant, on such a scale of numbers as the need requires, without the
doctrine of Purgatory. For thus the sins of youth are turned to account
by the profitable penance of manhood; and terrors, which the
philosopher scorns in the individual, become the benefactors, and earn
the gratitude of nations."--_Essay on the Development of Christian
Doctrine_, [1] p. 386.

[Footnote 1: Nevertheless, means must be taken to pay back this sum so
seasonably advanced. Hence it is, that at the request of the Minister
General of the Franciscans, Father Marie, of Brest, has made a touching
appeal to all.]



The Saints, by their intercession and their patronage, unite us with
God. They watch over us; they pray for us; they obtain graces for us.
Our guardian angels are round about us: they watch over and protect us.
The man who has not piety enough to ask their prayers must have a heart
but little like to the love and veneration of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus. But there are other friends of God to whom we owe a debt of
piety. They are those who are suffering beyond the grave, in the silent
kingdom of pain and expiation--in the dark and yet blessed realm of
purification; that is to say, the multitudes who pass out of this
world, washed in the Precious Blood, perfectly absolved of all guilt of
sin, children and friends of God, blessed souls, heirs of the kingdom
of Heaven, all but Saints; nevertheless, they are not yet altogether
purified for His kingdom. They are there detained--kept back from His
presence--until their expiation is accomplished. You and I, and every
one of us, will pass through that place of expiation. Neither you nor I
are Saints, nor, upon earth, ever will be; therefore, before we can see
God, we must be purified by pain in that silent realm. But those
blessed souls are friends of God next after His Saints; and in the same
order they ought to be the objects of our piety; that is, of our love
and compassion, of our sympathy and our prayers. They can do nothing
now for themselves: they have no longer any Sacraments; they do not
even pray for themselves. They are so conformed to the will of God that
they suffer there in submission and in silence. They desire nothing
except that His will should be accomplished. Therefore, it is our duty
to help them--to help them by our prayers, our penances, our
mortifications, our alms, by the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. There may
be father and mother, brother and sister, friend and child, whom you
have loved as your own life: they may now be there. Have you forgotten
them? Have you no pity for them now, no natural piety, no spirit of
love for them? Do you forget them all the day long? Look back upon
those who made your home in your early childhood, the light of whose
faces you can still see shining in your memories, and the sweetness of
whose voice is still in your ears--do you forget them because they are
no longer seen? Is it, indeed, "out of sight, out of mind"? What an
impiety of heart is this!

The Catholic Church, the true mother of souls, cherishes, with loving
memory, all her departed. Never does a day pass but she prays for them
at the altar; never does a year go by that there is not a special
commemoration of all her children departed on one solemn day, which is
neither feast nor fast, but a day of the profoundest piety and of the
deepest compassion. Surely, then, if we have the spirit of piety in our
hearts, the holy souls will be a special object of our remembrance and
our prayers. How many now are there whom we have known in life? There
are those who have been grievously afflicted, and those who have been
very sinful, but, through the Precious Blood and a death-bed
repentance, have been saved at last. Have you forgotten them? Are you
doing nothing for them? There may also be souls there for whom there is
no one to pray on earth; there may be souls who are utterly forgotten
by their own kindred, outcast from all remembrance; and yet the
Precious Blood was shed for their sakes. If no one remember, them now,
you, at least, if you have in your hearts the gift of piety, will pray
for them.--_Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost, p._ 247.



I need hardly observe, that there is not a single liturgy existing,
whether we consider the most ancient period of the Church, or the most
distant part of the world, in which this doctrine is not laid down. In
all Oriental liturgies, we find parts appointed, in which the Priest or
Bishop is ordered to pray for the souls of the faithful departed; and
tables were anciently kept in the churches, called the _Dyptichs_,
on which the names of the deceased were enrolled, that they might be
remembered in the Sacrifice of the Mass and the prayers of the
faithful. The name of Purgatory scarcely requires a passing comment. It
has, indeed, been made a topic of abuse, on the ground that it is not
to be found in Scripture. But where is the word Trinity to be met with?
Where is the word _Incarnation_ to be read in Scripture? Where are
many other terms, held most sacred and important in the Christian
religion? The doctrines are, indeed, found there; but these names were
not given, until circumstances had rendered them necessary. We see that
the Fathers of the Church have called it a purging fire--a place of
expiation or purgation. The idea is precisely, the name almost, the

It has been said by divines of the English Church, that the two
doctrines which I have joined together, of prayers for the dead and
Purgatory, have no necessary connection, and that, in fact, they were
not united in the ancient Church. The answer to this assertion I leave
to your memories, after the passages which I have read you from the
Fathers. They surely speak of purgation by fire after death, whereby
the imperfections of this life are washed out, and satisfaction made to
God for sins not sufficiently expiated; they speak, at the same time,
of our prayers being beneficial to those who have departed this life in
a state of sin; and these propositions contain our entire doctrine on
Purgatory. It has also been urged that the established religion, or
Protestantism, does not deny or discourage prayers for the dead, so
long as they are independent of a belief in Purgatory; and, in this
respect, it is stated to agree with the primitive Christian Church.
But, my brethren, this distinction is exceedingly fallacious. Religion
is a lively, practical profession; it is to be ascertained and judged
by its sanctioned practices and outward demonstration, rather than by
the mere opinions of the few. I would at once fairly appeal to the
judgment of any Protestant, whether he has been taught, and has
understood that such is the doctrine of his Church. If, from the
services which he attended, or the Catechism which he has learned, or
the discourses heard, he has been led to suppose that praying for the
dead, in terms however general, was noways a peculiarity of
Catholicism, but as much a permitted practice of Protestantism. It is a
practical doctrine in the Catholic Church, it has an influence highly
consoling to humanity, and eminently worthy of a religion that came
down from heaven to second all the purest feelings of the heart. Nature
herself seems to revolt at the idea that the chain of attachment which
binds us together in life, can be rudely snapped asunder by the hand of
death, conquered and deprived of its sting since the victory of the
cross. But it is not to the spoil of mortality, cold and disfigured,
that she clings with affection. It is but an earthly and almost
unchristian grief, which sobs when the grave closes over the bier of a
departed loved one: but the soul flies upward to a more spiritual
affection, and refuses to surrender the hold which it had upon the love
and interest of the spirit that has fled. Cold and dark as the
sepulchral vault is the belief that sympathy is at an end when the body
is shrouded in decay, and that no further interchange of friendly
offices may take place between those who have lain down to sleep in
peace and us, who for awhile strew fading flowers upon their tomb. But
sweet is the consolation to the dying man, who, conscious of
imperfection, believes that even after his own time of merit is
expired, there are others to make intercession on his behalf; soothing
to the afflicted survivors the thought, that instead of unavailing
tears they possess more powerful means of actively relieving their
friend, and testifying their affectionate regret, by prayer and
supplication. In the first moments of grief, this sentiment will often
overpower religious prejudice, cast down the unbeliever on his knees
beside the remains of his friend, and snatch from him an unconscious
prayer for rest; it is an impulse of nature, which for the moment,
aided by the analogies of revealed truth, seizes at once upon this
consoling belief. But it is only like the flitting and melancholy light
which sometimes plays as a meteor over the corpses of the dead; while
the Catholic feeling, cheering, though with solemn dimness, resembles
the unfailing lamp which the piety of the ancients is said to have hung
before the sepulchres of their dead. It prolongs the tenderest
affections beyond the gloom of the grave, and it infuses the inspiring
hope that the assistance which we on earth can afford to our suffering
brethren, will be amply repaid when they have reached their place of
rest, and make of them friends, who, when _we_ in our turns fail,
shall receive us into everlasting mansions. [1]

[Footnote 1: "Lectures on the Catholic Church," often called the
"Moorfield Lectures," from being delivered in St. Mary's Moorfields, in
the Lent of 1836. Vol. I., Lecture xi, pp 65,68. This lecture upon
Purgatory is an admirable exposition of the Catholic doctrine,
supported by numberless testimonies from the Fathers.]



"The Synod of Florence," says this writer, [1] "was the first which
taught the doctrine of Purgatory, as an article of faith. It had,
indeed, been held by the Pope and by many writers, and it became the
popular doctrine during the period under review; but it was not decreed
by any authority of the universal, or even the whole Latin Church. In
the Eastern Church it was always rejected."

[Footnote 1: Rev. Wm. A. Palmer of Worcester College, Oxford, in his
"Compendium of Ecclesiastical History."]

Even admitting, for the sake of argument, that the Council of Florence
was the first which defined this doctrine as an article of faith, would
it thence follow that the doctrine itself was of recent origin? It
could only be inferred that it was never before questioned, and that,
therefore, there was no need of any definition on the subject. Would it
follow from the fact, that the Council of Nice was the first general
synod which defined the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Son
with the Father, that this, too, was a new doctrine, unknown to the
three previous centuries? Mr. Palmer himself admits that this tenet of
Purgatory "had become the popular doctrine during the period under
review;" which, in connection with the solemn promises of Christ to
guard His Church from error, clearly proves that it was an article of
divine revelation,--on the principles even of our Oxford divine!

It is not true that "it was always rejected in the Eastern Church." The
Greek Church admitted it in the Council of Florence and, at least,
impliedly, in that of Lyons. It had never been a bar to union between
the churches, however their theologians may have differed on the
secondary question, whether the souls detained in this middle place of
temporary expiation are purified by a material fire. "The ancient
Fathers, both of the Greek and Latin Church, who had occasion to refer
to the subject, had unanimously agreed in maintaining the doctrine, as
could be easily shown by reference to their works. All the ancient
liturgies of both Churches had embodied this same article of faith. And
even at present, not only the Greek Church, but all the Oriental
sectaries still hold it as doctrine, and practice accordingly."


You have heard, in countries separated from the Roman Church, the
_doctors of the law_ deny at once Hell and Purgatory. You might
well have taken the denial of a word for that of a thing. An enormous
power is that of words! The minister who would be angry at that of
Purgatory will readily grant us a _place of expiation_, or an
_intermediate state_, or perhaps even _stations_, who knows?
without thinking it in the least ridiculous. One of the great motives
of the sixteenth century revolt was precisely _Purgatory_. The
insurgents would have nothing less than Hell, pure and simple.
Nevertheless, when they became philosophers, they set about denying the
eternity of punishment, allowing, nevertheless, a _hell for a
time_, only through good policy and for fear of putting into heaven
at one stroke Nero and Messalina side by side with St. Louis and St.
Teresa. But a temporary hell is nothing else than Purgatory; so that
having broken with us because they did not want Purgatory, they broke
with us anew because they wanted Purgatory only.


In the Special Announcement of the "Messenger of St. Joseph's Union"
for 1885-6, we find the following interesting remarks in relation to
the devotion to the Souls in Purgatory: "St. Gregory the Great,
speaking of Purgatory, calls it 'a penitential fire harder to endure
than all the tribulations of this world.' St. Augustine says that the
torment of fire alone endured by the holy souls in Purgatory, exceeds
all the tortures inflicted on the martyrs; and St. Thomas says that
there is no difference between the fire of Hell and that of Purgatory.
Prayer for the souls in Purgatory is a source of great blessings to
ourselves. It is related of a holy religious who had for a long time
struggled in vain to free himself from an impure temptation, and who
appealed earnestly to the Blessed Virgin to deliver him, that she
appeared to him and commanded him to pray earnestly for the souls in
Purgatory. He did so, and from that time the temptation left him. The
duration of the period of confinement in Purgatory is probably much
longer than we are inclined to think. We find by the Revelations of
Sister Francesca of Pampeluna that the majority of souls in Purgatory
with whose sufferings she was made acquainted, were detained there for
a period extending from thirty to sixty years; and, as many of those of
whom she speaks were holy Carmelites, some of whom had even wrought
miracles when on earth, what must be the fate of poor worldlings who
seldom think of gaining an indulgence either for themselves or their
departed friends and relatives? Father Faber commenting on this
subject--the length of time that the holy souls are detained in
Purgatory--says very justly: 'We are apt to leave off too soon praying
for our parents, friends, or relatives, imagining with a foolish and
unenlightened esteem for the holiness of their lives, that they are
freed from Purgatory much sooner than they really are.' Can the holy
souls in Purgatory assist us by their prayers? Most assuredly. St.
Liguori says: 'Though the souls in Purgatory are unable to pray or
merit for themselves, they can obtain by prayer many favors for those
who pray for them on earth.' St. Catherine of Bologna has assured us
that she obtained many favors by the prayers of the holy souls in
Purgatory which she had asked in vain through the intercession of the
saints. The Holy Ghost says: 'He who stoppeth his ear against the cry
of the poor, shall also cry himself and shall not be heard,' and St.
Vincent Ferrer says, in expounding that passage, that the holy souls in
Purgatory cry to God for justice against those who on earth refuse to
help them by their prayers, and that God will most assuredly hear their
cry. Let us, therefore, do all in our power to relieve the holy souls
in Purgatory, and avert from ourselves the punishment that God is sure
to inflict on those whose faith is too dead, or whose hearts are too
cold to heed the cry that rises, day and night, from that sea of fire:
'Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends!'" Job xix.



That the doctrine of Purgatory opens to the Christian poet a source of
the marvellous which was unknown to antiquity will be readily admitted.
[1] Nothing, perhaps, is more favorable to the inspiration of the muse
than this middle state of expiation between the region of bliss and
that of pain, suggesting the idea of a confused mixture of happiness
and of suffering. The graduation of the punishments inflicted on those
souls that are more or less happy, more or less brilliant, according to
their degree of proximity to an eternity of joy or of woe, affords an
impressive subject for poetic description. In this respect, it
surpasses the subjects of heaven and hell, because it possesses a
future which they do not.

[Footnote 1: Some trace of this dogma is to be found in Plato and in
the doctrine of Zeno. (See Diog. Laer.) The poets also appear to have
had some idea of it (AEneid, v. vi), but these notions are all vague and

The river Lethe was a graceful appendage of the ancient Elysium; but it
cannot be said that the shades which came to life again on its banks
exhibited the same poetical progress in the way to happiness that we
behold in the souls of Purgatory. When they left the abodes of bliss to
reappear among men, they passed from a perfect to an imperfect state.
They re-entered the ring for the fight. They were born again to undergo
a second death. In short, they came forth to see what they had already
seen before. Whatever can be measured by the human mind is necessarily
circumscribed. We may admit, indeed, that there was something striking
and true in the circle by which the ancients symbolized eternity; but
it seems to us that it fetters the imagination by confining it always
within a dreaded enclosure. The straight line extended _ad
infinitum_ would, perhaps, be more expressive, because it would
carry our thoughts into a world of undefined realities, and would bring
together three things which appear to exclude each other--hope,
mobility, eternity.

The apportionment of the punishment to the sin is another source of
invention which is found in the purgatorial state, and is highly
favorable to the sentimental.... If violent winds, raging fires, and
icy cold, lend their influence to the torments of hell, why may not
milder sufferings be derived from the song of the nightingale, from the
fragrance of flowers, from the murmur of the brook, or from the moral
affections themselves? Homer and Ossian tell us of the joy of grief
_aruerou tetarpo mesthagolo_.

Poetry finds its advantage also in that doctrine of Purgatory which
teaches us that the prayers and other good works of the faithful may
obtain the deliverance of souls from their temporal pains. How
admirable is this intercourse between the living son and the deceased
father--between the mother and daughter--between husband and wife--
between life and death. What affecting considerations are suggested by
this tenet of religion! My virtue, insignificant being as I am, becomes
the common property of Christians; and, as I participate in the guilt
of Adam, so also the good that I possess passes to the good of others.
Christian poets! the prayers of your Nisus will be felt, in their happy
effects, by some Euryalus beyond the grave. The rich, whose charity you
describe, may well share their abundance with the poor, for the
pleasure which they take in performing this simple and grateful act
will receive its regard from the Almighty in the release of their
parents from the expiatory flame. What a beautiful feature in our
religion to impel the heart of man to virtue by the power of love, and
to make him feel that the very coin which gives bread for the moment to
an indigent fellow-being, entitles, perhaps, some rescued soul to an
eternal position at the table of the Lord. [1]

[Footnote 1: "Genius of Christianity." Book II., Chap. xv. pp. 338-



Mary, from her nearness to Jesus, has imbibed many traits of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus. She shares, in a preeminent degree, His Divine
compassion for sorrow and suffering. Where He loves and pities, she
also loves and pities. Nay, may we not well say that all enduring
anguish of soul and writhing under the pangs of a lacerated heart, are
especially dear to both Jesus and Mary? Was not Jesus the Man of
Sorrows? and did He not constitute Mary the Mother of suffering and
sorrowing humanity? And even as His Divine breast knew keenest sorrow,
did not a sword of sorrow pierce her soul? She participated in the
agony of Jesus only as such a Mother can share the agony of such a Son;
in the tenderest manner, therefore, does she commiserate sorrow and
suffering wherever found. Though now far beyond all touch of pain and
misery, still as the devoted Mother of a pain-stricken race, she
continues to watch, to shield, to aid and to strengthen her children in
their wrestlings with these mysterious visitants.


Nor does Mary's interest cease upon this side of the grave. It
accompanies souls beyond. And when she beholds those souls undergoing
their final purgation, before entering upon the enjoyment of the
beatific vision, she pities them with a pity all the more heartfelt
because their suffering is so much greater than any they could have
endured in this life. See the state of those souls. They are in grace
and favor with God; they are burning with love for Him; they are
yearning, with a yearning boundless in its intensity, to drink
refreshment of life, and love, and sanctification, and to be
replenished with goodness and truth, and to perfect their natures at
the Fountain-head of all truth, all goodness, all love, and all
perfection. They are yearning; but so clearly and piercingly does the
white light of God's truth and God's holiness shine through them and
penetrate every fold and recess of their moral natures, and reveal to
them every slightest imperfection, that they dare not approach Him and
gratify their intense desire to be united with Him. Their weaknesses

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