St. Gregory Delivers the Soul of a Monk, from Purgatory. Giovanni Battista Crespi, 1617

St. Gregory Delivers the Soul of a Monk, from Purgatory. Giovanni Battista Crespi, 1617

                MONTH OF NOVEMBER



Purgatory is a place beneath the earth, according to the opinion of the Angelic Doctor, not far from the abyss of hell. This place is destined for those souls which, although they died in grace, yet had not entirely satisfied the Divine justice for the punishment due to their sins. The punishments to which the souls in purgatory are subject are two: the pain of loss, and the pain of sense, both of them corresponding to their guilt. For every man who sins, turns, so to say, his back upon his God. For this guilt there is a corresponding pain, and it is the pain of loss: God, in our way of thinking, goes far from that soul and deprives it of the sight of Himself. So, too, every soul, whenever it sins, turns itself to the creatures, to make a wrong use of them; the miser to gold, the glutton to excessive eating and drinking: and this is called turning to the creatures. For this guilt a corresponding pain is found, and that is the pain of sense: God wishes that those souls who have abandoned their Creator to fling themselves into the arms of the creatures without reserve, should find in the fire, which is His creature, the pain they deserve. Whence it comes that we read in the book of Wisdom, that every one shall be punished by means of those instruments of which he availed himself to sin.

     Respite from their misery

              PSALM 129 

            De Profundis 

Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it. For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word: My soul hath hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord. Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

De Profundis. The sixth penitential psalm.

Canticum graduum. De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem meam. Fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae. Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?  Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine. Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus; speravit anima mea in Domino. A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israel in Domino; quia apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio. Et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord; and. let perpetual light shine upon them.

Virgin and Child with Souls in Purgatory - GIORDANO, Luca

Virgin and Child with Souls in Purgatory – GIORDANO, Luca

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, will be the Protectrix of this day, as being she who is the Queen of all Saints, and who, according to St. Bridget, is called Consolatrix of the souls in purgatory, and Mother of the same.


We cannot read without amazement of the fervent charity of the wonderful Virgin Christina, who, for the good of the dead, really put into practice that which the apostle said: I desire to be separated from Christ for my brethren’s sake. The virgin one day being lifted in spirit, and conducted by God to see the things which the souls in purgatory suffered in that furnace of fire, was so moved with compassion at seeing them thus severely tormented and agonized, that when left by her God at liberty to choose one of the two lots; either to pass at once into the glory of Paradise, or to remain in life, in order to give suffrages to these blessed souls, without a moment’s hesitation she clung to the latter. She adopted in consequence a kind of life austere, beyond all belief, in order to relieve these holy souls; and if any one suggested to her to treat her body with more compassion, she replied at once as follows: “You speak in this way because you do not know how they suffer in purgatory. If you did but know this, I am certain you would do the same as a suffrage for those blessed souls.” Come, then, in imitation of this heroine, let us endeavour to cleave to the practice of penances, both to withdraw ourselves from torments so severe, and also to set the souls in purgatory free from them. (Bened. XIII. Sacr. Triges. i. Serm. 25.)


About Image – St Gregory the Great Delivers the Soul of a Monk

Gregory’s Dialogues tell of a monk from whom the last rites were withheld by his abbot because he was found to have hidden, three gold coins in his cell. By his prayers Gregory secured the release of the monk’s soul from purgatory. Angels carry the monk’s soul to heaven.

The visionary and dramatic violence of the leading painter in the group known as the Seicento Lombardo places the episode connected with the mass into the background. Instead, all eyes are on the turbulent vision that links Purgatory in a spiral leading upward to the light of highest Heaven.


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