Purgatory Explained, Part 1, Chapter 32

illustration of Saint Elizabeth and a Beggar, artist unknown; from 'Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Third Order', by Father Hilarion Duerk, OFM, 1919Article

Matter of Expiation – The Life of Pleasure – The Pursuit of Comfort – Venerable Frances of Pampeluna and the Man of the World – Saint Elizabeth and the Queen, her Mother

In our days there are Christians who are total strangers to the Cross and the mortification of Jesus Christ. Their effeminate and sensual life is but one chain of pleasures; they fear everything that is a sacrifice; scarcely do they observe the strict laws of fasting and abstinence prescribed by the Church. Since they will not submit to any penance in this world, let them reflect on what will be inflicted upon them in the next. It is certain that in this worldly life they do nothing but accumulate debts. Since they omit to do penance, no part of the debt is paid, and a total is reached that affrights the imagination. The venerable servant of God, Frances of Pampeluna, who was favored with several visions of Purgatory, saw one day a man of the world, who, although he had otherwise been a tolerably good Christian, passed fifty-nine years in Purgatory on account of seeking his ease and comfort. Another passed thirty-five years there for the same reason; a third, who had too strong a passion for gambling, was detained there for sixty-four years. Alas! these injudicious Christians have allowed their debts to remain before God, and those which they might so easily have acquitted by works of penance they have had to pay afterwards by years of torture.

If God is severe towards the rich and the pleasure-seekers of the world, He will not be less so towards princes, magistrates, parents, and in general towards all those who have the charge of souls and authority over others.

A severe judgment, says He Himself, shall be for them that bear rule. (Wisdom 6:6)

Laurence Surius relates how an illustrious queen, after her death, bore witness to this truth. In the Life of Saint Elizabeth, Duchess of Thuringia, it is said that the servant of God lost her mother, Gertrude, Queen of Hungary, about the year 1220. In the spirit of a holy Christian daughter, she gave abundant alms, redoubled her prayers and mortifications, exhausted the resources of her charity for the relief of that dear soul. God revealed to her that she had not done too much. One night the deceased appeared to her with a sad and emaciated countenance; she placed herself on her knees next to the bed, and said to her, weeping, “My daughter, you see at your feet your mother overwhelmed with suffering. I come to implore you to multiply your suffrages, that Divine Mercy may deliver me from the frightful torments I endure. Oh! how much are those to be pitied who exercise authority over others? I expiate now the faults that I committed upon the throne. Oh! my daughter, I pray you by the pangs I endured when bringing you into the world, by the cares and anxieties which your education cost me, I conjure you to deliver me from my torments.” Elizabeth, deeply touched, arose immediately, took the discipline to blood, and implored God, with tears, to have mercy on her mother, Gertrude, declaring that she would not cease to pray until she had obtained her deliverance. Her prayers were heard.

Let us here remark that, in the preceding example, there is spoken of a queen only; how much more severely will kings, magistrates, and all superiors be treated whose responsibility and influence are much greater!

MLA Citation