Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 49


Advantages – Spiritual and Temporal Favors – Christopher Sandoval at Louvain – The Lawyer Renouncing the World – Brother Lacci and Dr. Verdiano

Let us here cite another example, the more worthy of mention as a great Pope, Clement VIII, saw therein the finger of God, and recommended its publication for the edification of the Church. “Several authors,” says Father Rossignoli, “have related the marvellous assistance which Christopher Sandoval, Archbishop of Seville, received from the souls in Purgatory. Whilst still a child, he was accustomed to distribute part of his pocket money in alms for the benefit of the holy souls. His piety increased with his age; for the sake of the poor suffering souls he gave away all that he could dispose of, and even went so far as to deprive himself of a thousand little things which were useful or necessary. When he was pursuing his studies at the University of Louvain, it happened that some letters which he expected from Spain were delayed, in consequence of which he found himself reduced to such pecuniary straits that he had scarcely wherewith to purchase food. At this moment a poor person asked of him an alms for love of the souls in Purgatory, and, what had never happened to him before, he was obliged to refuse.

“Afflicted by this circumstance, he went into a church. ‘If,’ said he, ‘I cannot give an alms for my poor souls, I can at least give them the assistance of my prayers.’

“Scarcely had he finished his prayer when, on leaving the church, he was accosted by a beautiful young man, dressed as a traveller, who saluted him with respectful affability. Christopher experienced a feeling of religious awe, as though he were in the presence of a spirit in human form. But he was soon reassured by his amiable interlocutor, who spoke to him with the greatest gentleness of the Marquis of Dania, his father, his relatives and friends, just as a Spaniard who had recently arrived from the Peninsula. He ended by begging him to accompany him to a hotel, where they could dine together and be more at their ease. Sandoval, who had not eaten anything since the previous day, gladly accepted the gracious offer. They therefore seated themselves at table, and continued to converse most pleasantly together. After the repast, the stranger gave Sandoval a sum of money, entreating him to accept it, and to make use of it for any purpose he pleased, adding that the Marquis, his father, would make him compensation on his return to Spain. Then, under pretext of transacting some business, he withdrew, and Christopher never saw him again. Notwithstanding all his inquiries concerning the stranger, he never succeeded in obtaining any information regarding him. No one, neither in Louvain nor Spain, had ever seen or known a young man corresponding to his description. As regards the sum of money, it was exactly the amount which the pious Christopher needed to defray expenses until the arrival of his letters, and this money was never afterwards claimed from his family.

He was, therefore, convinced that Heaven had worked a miracle in his favor, and had sent to his assistance one of those souls that he himself had relieved by his prayers and alms. He was co nfi rmed in this opinion by Pope Clement VIII, to whom he related the incident when he went to Rome to receive the Bulls raising him to the Episcopate. This Pontiff, struck by the extraordinary circumstances of the case, advised him to make it known for the edification of the faithful; he looked upon it as a favor from Heaven, which proved how precious in the sight of God is charity towards the departed.

Such is the gratitude of the holy souls which have left this world, that they testily it even for favors bestowed upon them whilst they were still in this life. It is related in the Annals of the Friars Preachers that among those who went to receive the habit from the hands of Saint Dominic in 1221, there was a lawyer who had quitted his profession under extraordinary circumstances. He was united by ties of friendship to a young man of great piety, whom he charitably assisted during the sickness of which he died. This was sufficient to move the deceased to procure for him the greatest of all benefits, that of conversion and vocation to a religious life. About thirty days after his death he appeared to the lawyer, and implored his assistance, because he was in Purgatory. “Are your sufferings intense?” he asked of his friend. “Alas!” replied the latter, “if the whole earth with its forests and mountains were on fire, it would not form a furnace such as the one into which I am plunged.” Seized with fear, his faith revived, and thinking only of his own soul, he asked, “In what state am I in the eyes of God?” “In a bad state,” replied the deceased, “and in a dangerous profession.” “What have I to do? What advice do you give me?” “Quit the perverse world in which you are engaged, and occupy yourself only with the affairs of your soul.” The lawyer, following this counsel, gave all his goods to the poor and took the habit of Saint Dominic.

Let us see how a holy Religious of the Society of Jesus showed his gratitude, even after death, to the physician who attended him during his last illness. Francis Lacci, a Brother Coadjutor, died in the College of Naples in 1598. He was a man of God, full of charity, patience, and tender devotion towards the Blessed Virgin. Some time after his death. Dr. Verdiano entered the church of the College to assist at Mass before beginning his visits. It was the day on which were celebrated the obsequies of King Philip II, who had died four months previous. When, on leaving the church, he was about to take holy water, a Religious approached and asked him why the catafalque had been prepared, and whose was the service about to be celebrated. “It is that of King Philip II,” he replied.

At the same time Verdiano, astonished that a Religious should ask such a question of a stranger, and not distinguishing the features of his interlocutor in the obscurity of the place where he stood, asked who he was. “I am,” he answered, “Brother Lacci, whom you attended during my last illness.” The doctor looked at him attentively, and recognized perfectly the features of Lacci. Stupefied with astonishment, he said, “But you died of that disease! Are you then suffering in Purgatory, and do you come to ask our suffrages?” “Blessed be God, I am no longer in pain nor sorrow. I need not your suffrages. I am in the joys of Paradise.” “And King Philip, is he also already in Paradise?” “Yes, he is there, but placed as much below me as he was elevated above me upon earth. As for you, Dr. Verdiano, where do you propose to make your first visit today?” Verdiano having replied that he was then going to the Patrician di Maio, who was dangerously ill, Lacci warned him to guard against a great danger which menaced him at the door of the house. In fact, the doctor found there a large stone so placed, that on being shaken, it would have fallen and mortally injured him.

This material circumstance seems to have been designed by Providence to prove to Verdiano that he had not been the sport of an illusion.

MLA Citation