Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 21


Relief of the Souls – Prayer – Brother Corrado d’Offida – The Golden Fishhook and the Silver Thread

After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we have a multitude of secondary though most efficacious means of relieving the holy souls, if we employ them with spirit, faith, and fervor.

In the first place comes prayer, prayer in all its forms. The Annals of the Seraphic Order speak with admiration of Brother Corrado d’Offida, one of the first companions of Saint Francis. He was distinguished by a spirit of prayer and charity, which contributed greatly to the edification of his brethren. Among the latter there was a young monk whose relaxed and disorderly conduct disturbed the holy community; but, thanks to the prayers and charitable exhortations of Corrado, he entirely corrected himself and became a model of regularity. Soon after this happy conversion, he died, and his brethren gave him the ordinary suffrages. A few days elapsed, when Brother Corrado being in prayer before the altar, heard a voice asking the assistance of his prayers. “Who are you?” said the servant of God. “I am,” replied the voice, “the soul of the young Religious whom you reanimated to fervor.” “But did you not die a holy death? Are you still in so great need of prayers?” “I died a good death, and am saved, but on account of my former sins, which I had not the time to expiate, I suffer the most terrible chastisement, and I beseech you not to refuse me the assistance of your prayers.” Immediately the good brother prostrated himself before the tabernacle, and recited a Pater, followed by the Requiem JEternam. “Oh, my good Father,” cried the apparition, “what refreshment your prayer procures for me! Oh, how it relieves me! I entreat you to continue.” Corrado devoutly repeated the same prayers. “Beloved Father,” again repeated the soul, “still more! still more! I experience such great relief when you pray.” The charitable Religious continued his prayers with renewed fervor, and repeated the Our Father a hundred times. Then, in accents of unspeakable joy, the deceased soul said unto him, “I thank you, my dear Father, in the name of God. I am delivered; behold! I am about to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

We see by the preceding example how efficacious are the smallest prayers, the shortest supplications, to alleviate the sufferings of the poor souls. “I have read,” says Father Rossignoli, “that a holy Bishop, rapt in ecstasy, saw a child, who, with a golden fishhook and a silver thread, drew forth from the bottom of a well a woman who had been drowned therein. After his prayer, and whilst on his way to the church, he saw the same child praying at a grave in the cemetery. ‘What are you doing there, my little friend?’ he asked. ‘I am saying the Our Father and Hail Mary,’ answered the child, ‘for the soul of my mother, whose body lies buried here.’ The prelate immediately understood that God had wished to show him the efficacy of the most simple prayer; he knew that the soul of that woman had been delivered, that the fishhook was the Pater, and that the Ave was the silver thread of that mystic line.”

MLA Citation