Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 52

detail of the oil on canvas painting 'Saint Catherine of Siena', 17th century by Baldassare Franceschini; Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich, London, England; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Advantages – Charity towards the Holy Souls recompensed by Jesus Christ – Saint Catherine of Siena and Palmerine – Saint Magdalen de Pazzi and her Mother

God is more inclined to reward than to punish, and if He inflict a chastisement upon those who forget the souls so dear to His Heart, He shows Himself truly grateful towards those who assist Him in the person of His suffering spouses. In recompense He will one day say to them. Come ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom which is prepared for you. You have exercised mercy towards your necessitous and suffering brethren; Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me. (Matthew 25:40). Very often in this life Jesus rewards compassionate and charitable souls by the bestowal of many favors. Saint Catherine of Siena by her charity had converted a sinner named Palmerine, who died and went to Purgatory. The saint gave herself no rest until she had delivered this soul. In recompense, Our Lord permitted her to appear to the saint, or rather our Saviour Himself showed her to His servant, as a glorious conquest of her Charity. Blessed Raymond thus gives the details: In the middle of the fourteenth century, when Saint Catherine edified her native city by all sorts of works of mercy, a woman named Palmerine, after having been the object of her tenderest charity, conceived a secret aversion towards her benefactors, which even degenerated into implacable hatred. No longer able to see or listen to the saint, the ungrateful Palmerine, embittered against the servant of God, ceased not to blacken her reputation by the most atrocious calumnies. Catherine did all in her power to conciliate her, but in vain. Then, seeing that her kindness, her humility, her benefits served but to excite the fury of this unfortunate woman, she earnestly implored God to vouchsafe Himself to move her obdurate heart.

God heard her prayer by striking Palmerine with a mortal malady; but this chastisement did not suffice to make her enter into herself. In return for all the tender care which the saint lavished upon her, the wretched woman loaded her with insults and drove her from her presence. Meanwhile, her end approached, and a priest was called to administer the last Sacraments. The sick person was unfi t to receive them, on account of the hatred which she nourished, and which she refused to give up. On hearing this, and seeing that the unfortunate creature had already one foot in Hell, Catherine shed a torrent of tears and was inconsolable. For three days and three nights she ceased not to supplicate God on her behalf, adding fasting to prayer. “What! Lord,” she said, “will You allow this soul to be lost on my account? I conjure You, grant me at any price her conversion and her salvation. Punish me for her sin, of which I am the occasion: it is not her, but me, the chastisement should strike. Lord, refuse me not the grace which I ask of You: I shall not leave You until I shall have obtained it. In the name of Your Goodness, of Your Mercy, I conjure You, most merciful Saviour, not to permit the soul of my sister to leave her body until it has been restored to Your grace.”

Her prayer, adds her biographer, was so powerful that she prevented the sick woman from dying. Her agony lasted for three days and three nights, to the great astonishment of her nurses. Catherine during this time continued to intercede, and ended by gaining the victory. God could no longer resist, and worked a miracle of mercy. A ray of heavenly light penetrated the heart of the dying woman, showed her her fault, and nerved her to repentance. The saint, to whom God revealed this, hastened to her side. As soon as the sick person saw her, she gave her every possible mark of friendship and respect, accused herself aloud of her fault, received with piety the last Sacraments, and died in the grace of God.

Notwithstanding the sincerity of her conversion, it was to be feared that a sinner who had barely escaped Hell would have to undergo a severe Purgatory. The charitable Catherine continued to do all in her power to hasten the moment when Palmerine would be admitted to the glory of Paradise.

So much Charity could not fail to meet its reward. “Our Lord,” writes Blessed Raymond, “showed to His spouse that soul saved by her prayers. It was so brilliant that she told me she could find no words capable of expressing its beauty. It was not yet admitted to the glory of the beatific vision, but had that brightness which creation and the grace of Baptism imparts. Our Lord said to her, ‘Behold, My daughter, this lost soul which you have found!’ And He added, ‘Does she not appear to you most beautiful and precious? Who would not endure all sorts of suffering to save a creature so perfect and introduce it into eternal life? If I, who am the Supreme Beauty, from whom all beauty emanates, have been so far captivated by the beauty of souls as to descend upon earth and shed My Blood to redeem them; with how much greater reason should you not labor one for another, that such admirable creatures be not lost. If I have showed you this soul, it was that you should be all the more zealous in all that concerns the salvation of souls.

Saint Magdalen of Pazzi, so full of devotion for the dead, exhausted all the resources of Christian Charity on behalf of her mother, after the latter had departed this life. A fortnight after her death, Jesus, wishing to console His spouse, showed her the soul of her beloved parent. Magdalen saw her in Paradise, arrayed in dazzling splendor, and surrounded by saints, who appeared to take great interest in her. She heard the blessed soul give her three commands, which ever remained impressed upon her memory: “Take care, my daughter,” she said, “to descend as low as possible in humility, to observe religious obedience, and to carry out with prudence all that it prescribes.” Saying this, Magdalen saw her blessed mother vanish from sight, and she remained inundated with the sweetest consolation.

MLA Citation