Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 30

statue of Saint Catherine of Sweden, date unknown, artist unknown; Kloster Altomünster, Dachau, Bavaria, Germany; photographed on 25 April 2012 by GFreihalter; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Matter of Expiation – Sins of Youth – Saint Catherine of Sweden and the Princess Gida

It often happens that Christians do not sufficiently reflect on the necessity of doing penance for the sins of their youth: they must one day be atoned for by the most rigorous penance of Purgatory. Such was the case with the Princess Gida, daughter-in-law of Saint Bridget, as we read in the Lives of the Saints, March 24, Life of Saint Catherine. Saint Bridget was in Rome with her daughter Catherine, when the latter had an apparition of the soul of her sister-in-law, Gida, of whose death she was ignorant. Being one day in prayer in the ancient basilica of Saint Peter, Catherine saw before her a woman dressed in a white robe and black mantle, and who came to ask her prayers for a person who was dead, “It is one of your countrywomen,” she added, “who needs your assistance.” “Her name?” asked the saint. “It is the Princess Gida of Sweden, the wife of your brother Charles.” Catherine then begged the stranger to accompany her to her mother Bridget, to impart to her the sad tidings. “I am charged with a message for you alone,” said the stranger, “and I am not allowed to make any other visits, for I must depart immediately. You have no reason to doubt the truth of this fact; in a few days another messenger will arrive from Sweden, bringing the gold crown of Princess Gida. She has bequeathed it to you by testament, in order to secure the assistance of your prayers; but extend to her from this very moment your charitable aid, for she stands in most urgent need of your suffrages.” With these words she withdrew.

Catherine would have followed her; but although her costume would have easily distinguished her, she was nowhere to be seen.

Struck and surprised with this strange adventure, she hastened to return to her mother, and related all that had happened. Saint Bridget replied with a smile, “It was your sister-in-law Gida herself that appeared to you. Our Lord has been pleased to reveal this to me. The dear departed died in the most consoling sentiments of piety; that is why she attained the favor of appearing to you asking your prayers. She has still to expiate the numerous faults of her youth. Let us both do all in our power to give her relief. The gold crown which she sends you imposes this obligation upon you.”

A few weeks later an officer from the court of Prince Charles arrived in Rome, carrying the crown, and believing himself to be the first to convey the tidings of the death of Princess Gida. The beautiful crown was sold, and the money used for Masses and good works for the repose of the soul of the deceased Princess.

MLA Citation