Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 55

statue of Saint Peter Claver, date and artist unknown; Church of San Pedro Claver, Verdú, Lleida, Spain; photographed on 16 June 2012 by Enfo; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Advantages – Salutary Instruction – Blessed Mary of the Angels – Saint Peter Claver and the Sick Negro – The Negro and the Rosary

Besides the holy thoughts which devotion to the holy souls suggests, the latter sometimes contribute directly to the spiritual welfare of their benefactors. In the Life of Blessed Mary of the Angels, of the Order of Mount Carmel, it is said that it is almost beyond belief how frequent were the apparitions of the souls of Purgatory who came to implore her assistance, and afterwards to thank her for their deliverance. Very often they conversed with the blessed sister, giving her useful advice for herself or for her sisters, and revealing things related to the other world. “On the Wednesday within the Octave of the Assumption,” she writes, “whilst saying the evening prayers, one of our good sisters appeared to me. She was clad in white, surrounded with glory and splendor, and so beautiful that I know of nothing here below to which I could compare her. Fearing some illusion of the devil, I armed myself with the Sign of the Cross; but she smiled, and disappeared shortly after. I begged Our Lord not to permit me to be deceived by the demon. The following night the sister again appeared, and calling me by my name, said, ‘I come on the part of God to let you know that I am in the enjoyment of eternal bliss. Tell our Mother Prioress that it is not the design of God to reveal to her the destiny that awaits her; tell her to place her confidence in Saint Joseph and in the souls in Purgatory.’ Having said this, she disappeared.”

Saint Peter Claver, Apostle of the Negroes of Carthagena, was aided by the souls in Purgatory in his work of the apostolate. He did not abandon the souls of his dear Negroes after their death; penances, prayers, Masses, indulgences, as far as depended upon himself, he applied to them, says Father Fleurian, his biographer. Thus it often happened that those poor afflicted souls, sure of his power with God, came to ask the assistance of his prayers.

The fastidiousness and incredulity of our century, says the same author, does not prevent us from relating some few additional facts. They may perhaps appear worthy of the raillery of freethinkers, but does it not suffice to know that God is the Master of these occurrences, and that they are, moreover, so well authenticated as to deserve a place in a history written for Christian readers?

A sick Negro, whom he had taken into his room and laid upon his own bed, having heard a noise as of loud moaning during the night, fear made him run to Father Claver, who was kneeling in prayer. “Oh, Father!” he cried, “what is that dreadful noise, which terrifies me and prevents me from sleeping?” “Return, my son,” replied the holy man, “and go to sleep without fear.” Then, having assisted him to get into bed, he opened the door of the chamber, said a few words, and immediately the moaning ceased.

Several other Negroes, being occupied in repairing a house at some distance from the city, one of them went out to cut wood upon a neighboring mountain. As he approached the forest he heard himself called by his name from the top of a tree, He raised his eyes in the direction whence the voice came, and not seeing anyone, was about to take to flight and join his companions, but he was stopped in a narrow path by a frightful specter, who discharged a shower of blows upon him with a whip furnished with pieces of red-hot iron, and saying, “Why have you not got your rosary? Carry it about you in future, and say it for the souls in Purgatory.” The phantom then ordered him to ask of the mistress of the house for three gold pieces which were due to him, and which he was to take to Father Claver, that Masses might be offered for his intention, after which he disappeared.

In the meantime the noise of the blows and the cries of the Negro had brought his companions to the spot, where they found him more dead than alive, covered with the wounds he had received, and unable to utter a word. They carried him to the house, where the mistress acknowledged that in reality she owed the sum of money in question to a Negro who had died some time previous. Father Claver, on being informed of what had occurred, said the Masses which were asked of him, and gave a rosary to the Negro, who ever afterwards wore it, and never omitted to say it daily.

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