Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 19

Blessed Agnès of JesusArticle

Relief of the Souls through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – Venerable Mother Agnes and Sister Seraphique – Margaret of Austria – The Archduke Charles – Father Mancinelli

We have just spoken of the efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice in relieving the poor souls. A lively faith in this consoling mystery inflames the devotion of the true faithful, and smoothes the bitterness of their grief. Does death deprive them of a father, a mother, a friend? They turn their tearful eyes towards the altar, which affords the means of testifying their love and gratitude towards their dear departed ones. Hence the numerous Masses which they cause to be celebrated; hence also that eagerness to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of Propitiation in favor of the dead.

Venerable Mother Agnes de Langeac, a Dominican Religious of whom we have already spoken, assisted at Holy Mass with the greatest devotion, and encouraged her Religious to a like fervor. She told them that this Divine Sacrifice was the holiest act of religion, the work of God by excellence, and reminded them of Holy Scripture: “Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully.” (Jeremiah 48:10)

A sister of the community, named Sister Seraphique, died; she had not paid sufficient attention to the salutary advice of her Superior, and was condemned to a severe Purgatory. Mother Agnes knew this by revelation. In an ecstasy she was taken in spirit into the place of expiation, and saw many souls in the midst of flames. Among them she recognized Sister Seraphique, who, in piteous accents, entreated her assistance. Touched with the most lively compassion, the charitable Superior did all in her power for the space of eight days; she fasted, communicated, and assisted at Holy Mass for the dear departed sister. Whilst in prayer, with many tears and sighs, imploring the Divine Mercy through the precious Blood of Jesus, that He would be pleased to deliver her dear daughter from those dreadful flames and admit her to the enjoyment of His presence, she heard a voice which said to her, “Continue to pray; the hour of her deliverance has not yet come.” Mother Agnes persevered in prayer, and two days later, whilst assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, at the moment of the elevation, she saw the soul of Sister Seraphique ascend to Heaven in a transport of joy. This consoling sight was the reward of her charity, and inflamed anew the ardor of her devotion towards the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Christian families, which possess a spirit of lively faith, make it their duty, according to their rank and means, to have a large number of Masses celebrated for the dead. In their holy liberality, they exhaust their resources in order to multiply the suffrages of the Church, and thus give relief to the holy souls. It is related in the Life of Queen Margaret of Austria, wife of Philip III, that in one single day, which was that of her obsequies, there were celebrated in the city of Madrid nearly eleven hundred Masses for the repose of her soul. This princess had asked for one thousand Masses in her last will; the King caused twenty thousand to be added to it. When the Archduke Albert died at Brussels, the pious Isabella, his widow, had forty thousand Masses offered for the repose of his soul, and for an entire month she herself assisted with the greatest piety at ten each day. (Lather Mumford, Charite envers les Defuncts).

One of the most perfect models of devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and of charity towards the souls in Purgatory, was Father Julio Mancinelli of the Society of Jesus. The Masses offered by this worthy Religious, says L. Rossignoli, appeared to have a particular efficacy for the relief of the faithful departed. The souls frequently appeared to him to beg the favor of a single Mass. (Merv 23).

Caesar Costa, the uncle of Lather Mancinelli, was Archbishop of Capua. One day meeting his holy nephew very poorly clad, notwithstanding the severity of the weather, he with the greatest charity gave him an alms to procure for himself a cloak. A short time afterwards, the Archbishop died; and the Lather going out to visit the sick, wrapped in his new cloak, met his deceased uncle coming towards him enveloped in flames, and begging him to lend him his mantle. The Lather gave it to him; and no sooner had the Archbishop folded it about him, than the flames were extinguished. Mancinelli understood that this soul was suffering in Purgatory, and that it asked his assistance, in return for the charity exercised in his regard. Then taking back his cloak, he promised to pray for the poor suffering soul with all possible fervor, especially at the altar.

This fact became noised abroad, and produced such a salutary impression, that after the death of the Father, it was represented in a painting, which is preserved at the College in Macerata, his native place. Father Julio Mancinelli is there seen at the altar clad in the sacred vestments, he is elevated a little above the steps of the altar, to signify the raptures with which he was favored by God. From his mouth issue sparks, the emblem of his burning prayers, and of his fervor during the Holy Sacrifice. Under the altar is seen Purgatory, and the souls receiving the benefit of the suffrages. Above, two angels pour forth from costly vases a shower of gold, which indicates the blessings, graces, and ransoms granted to the poor souls in virtue of the Holy Sacrifice. We also see the mantle spoken of, and an inscription in verse, which translated reads: “O miraculous garment, given as a protection against the severity of the cold, and which afterwards served to temper the heat of fire. It is thus that charity gives warmth or refreshment according to the sufferings which it relieves.”

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