Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 47


Advantages – Temporal Favors – L’Abbe Postel and the Servant of Paris

The following is related as a fact by the Abbe Postel, the translator of F. Rossignoli’s work. It took place in Paris, he says, about the year 1827, and is inserted as No. 27 in the Merveilles du Purgatoire.

A poor servant, who had been brought up as a good Christian in her native village, had adopted the pious practice of having a Mass said every month for the suffering souls. Her employers, having taken her with them to the capital, she never once neglected it, and furthermore made it her rule to assist at the Divine Sacrifice, and to unite her prayers with those of the priest, especially for the soul that had most nearly completed its expiation. This was her ordinary intention.

God soon tried her by a long illness, that not only occasioned her cruel suffering, but also caused her to lose her place and draw upon her last resources. On the day that she was able to leave the hospital, she had but twenty sous left. After addressing a fervent prayer to Heaven, full of confidence, she went in search of a situation. She was told that she would probably find employment in a certain family at the other end of the city, whither she went, and as she was obliged to pass by the Church of Saint Eustache, she entered. The sight of a priest at the altar reminded her that this month she had forgotten her usual Mass for the dead, and that this was the very day upon which, for many years, she had been accustomed to do this good work. But what was she to do? If she disposed of her last franc, she would have nothing left, even to satisfy her hunger. It was a struggle between devotion and human prudence. Devotion gained the day. “After all,” she said to herself, “the good God knows it is for Him, and He will not forsake me!” Entering the sacristy, she gave her offering for a Mass, at which she assisted with her usual fervor.

A few moments after, she continued on her way, full of anxiety as may be readily understood. Being absolutely destitute of means, what was she to do if she failed to obtain employment? She was still occupied with these thoughts when a pale young man of a slight figure and distinguished appearance approached her and said, “Are you in search of a situation?” “Yes, sir.” “Well, go to a certain street and number, to the house of Madam . I think you will suit her, and that you will be satisfied there.” Having spoken these words, he disappeared in the passing crowd, without waiting to receive the poor girl’s thanks.

She found the street, recognized the number, and ascended to the apartments. A servant came out carrying a package under her arm and uttering words of complaint and anger. “Is Madame there?” asked the newcomer. “She may or she may not be,” replied the other. “What does it matter to me? Madame will open the door herself if it suits her; I will trouble myself no longer about it. Adieu!” And she descended the steps.

Our poor girl rang the bell with trembling hand, and a sweet voice bade her to enter. She found herself in the presence of an old lady of venerable appearance, who encouraged her to make known her wishes.

“Madame,” said the servant, “I learned this morning that you are in need of a servant, and I came to offer my services. I was assured that you would receive me kindly.” “Oh, but, my dear child, what you tell me is very extraordinary. This morning I had no need of one; it is only within the last half-hour that I have discharged an insolent domestic, and there is not a soul in the world except her and myself who know it. Who sent you, then?” “It was a gentleman, Madame; a young gentleman whom I met on the street, who stopped me for this purpose, and I praised God for it, for it is absolutely necessary for me to find a place today; I have not a penny in my pocket.”

The old lady could not understand who the person was, and was lost in conjecture, when the servant raising her eyes to the furniture of the little parlor, perceived a portrait. “Wait, Madame,” she said immediately, “do not puzzle yourself any more; this is the exact picture of the young man who spoke to me. It is on his account that I am come.”

At these words the lady uttered a loud cry and seemed to lose consciousness. She made the girl repeat the story of her devotion to the souls in Purgatory, of the morning Mass, and her meeting with the stranger; then throwing herself on the neck of the girl, she embraced her amid a flood of tears and said, “You shall not be my servant from this moment; you are my daughter. It is my son, my only son, whom you saw – my son, dead for the past two years, who owes to you his deliverance, whom God directed to send you here. I cannot doubt it. May you, then, be blessed, and let us pray continually for all those who suffer before entering into a blessed eternity.”

MLA Citation