Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 56

Saint Claude de la ColombiereArticle

Advantages – Salutary Instructions – Saint Magdalen de Pazzi and Sister Benedicta – Father Paul Hoffee – Venerable Father de la Colombiere – Father Louis Corbinelli

Saint Magadlen de Pazzi, in an apparition of a departed soul, received the most wholesome instruction on religious virtues. There was in her convent a sister named Mary Benedicta, who was distinguished for her piety, her obedience, and all other virtues which are the ornament of holy souls. She was so humble, says Father Cepari, and had such contempt for herself, that, without the guidance of her Superiors, she would have gone to extremes, with the sole view of acquiring the reputation of being a person without prudence and without judgment. She therefore said that she could not help feeling jealous of Saint Alexis, who found a means of living a hidden life, contemptible in the eyes of the world. She was so docile and prompt in obedience, that she ran like a little child at the least sign of the will of her Superiors, and the latter were obliged to use great circumspection in the orders which they gave her, lest she should go beyond their desires. In fact, she had gained such control over her passions and appetites, that it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect mortification.

This good sister died suddenly, having had but a few hours of sickness. The following morning, which was Saturday, when, during the Mass which was celebrated, the Religious were singing the Sanctus, Magdalen was rapt in ecstasy. During the rapture, God showed her this soul under the corporal form in the glory of Heaven. She was adorned with a gold star, which she had received in recompense for her ardent charity. All her fingers were covered with costly rings, on account of her fidelity to all the rules, and the care she had taken to sanctify her most ordinary actions. Upon her head she wore a very rich crown, because she had always loved obedience and suffering for Jesus Christ. In fact, she surpassed in glory a great multitude of virgins, and she contemplated her Spouse Jesus with singular familiarity, because she had so loved humiliation, according to these words of our Saviour, He that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Such was the sublime lesson which the saint received in reward for her charity towards the departed.

The thought of Purgatory incites us to labor zealously, and to fly the least faults, in order to avoid the terrible expiations of the other life. Father Paul Hoffee, who died a holy death at Ingolstadt in the year 1608, made use of this thought for his own benefit and that of others. He never lost sight of Purgatory, nor ceased to relieve the poor souls who frequently appeared to him to solicit his suffrages. As he was Superior of his brethren in religion, he often exhorted them, first to sanctify themselves, the better to be able afterwards to sanctify others, and never to neglect the smallest prescription of their rules; then he would add with great simplicity, “Otherwise I fear you will come, like several others have done, to ask my prayers that you may be delivered from Purgatory.” In his last moments he was wholly occupied in loving colloquies with Our Lord, His Blessed Mother, and the Saints. He was sensibly consoled by a visit of a very holy soul, who had preceded him to Heaven but two or three days previous, and who now invited him to go and enjoy the eternal love of God. (Menology of the Society of Jesus, 17 December).

When we say that the thought of Purgatory makes us use all means to avoid it, it is evident that we have reason to fear that we shall go there. Now on what is this fear based? If we but reflect a little upon the sanctity required to enter Heaven, and the frailty of human nature, which is the source of so many faults, we easily understand that this fear is but too well founded. Moreover, do not the examples we have read above show us clearly that very often even the holiest souls have sometimes to undergo expiation in the other life?

Venerable Father Claude de la Colombiere died in the odor of sanctity at Paray, 15 February 1682, as Blessed Margaret Mary had predicted to him As soon as he had expired, a pious girl came to announce his death to Sister Margaret. The holy Religious, without showing any disturbance or breaking forth into vain regrets, said simply to that person, “Go and pray to God for him, and cause prayers to be everywhere offered for the repose of his soul.” The Father had died at five o’clock in the morning. That same evening she wrote a note to the same person in these terms:

“Cease to be afflicted; invoke him. Fear nothing, He is more powerful to aid us than ever.” These words give us to understand that she had been supernaturally enlightened regarding the death of this holy man, and of the state of his soul in the other life.

Sister Margaret’s peace and tranquility at the death of a director who had been useful to her was another sort of miracle. The blessed sister loved nothing except in God and for God; God held the place of all else in her heart, and consumed by the fire of His love all other attachment. The Superior was surprised at her perfect tranquility on the death of the holy missionary, and still more so that Margaret did not ask to do any extraordinary penance for the repose of his soul, as was her custom on the death of any one of her acquaintances in whom she was particularly interested. The Mother Superior asked the servant of God the reason of this, and she replied quite simply, “He is in no need of it; he is in a condition to pray for us, since he is exalted in Heaven by the Sacred Heart of our Divine Lord. Only to expiate some slight negligence in the practice of Divine Love,” she added, “his soul was deprived of the vision of God from the time it left his body until the moment when his remains were consigned to the tomb.”

Let us add one example more, that of Father Corbinelli. This holy person was not exempted from Purgatory. It is true he was not detained there, but he had to pass through the flames before being admitted into the presence of God. Louis Corbinelli, of the Company of Jesus, died in the odor of sanctity at the professed house in Rome, in the year 1591, almost at the same time with Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. The tragic death of Henry II, King of France, gave him a disgust for the world and he decided to consecrate himself entirely to the service of God. In the year 1559 the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth was celebrated with great pomp in the city of Paris. Among other amusements, a tournament was organized, in which figured the flower of the French nobility and chivalry. The King himself appeared in the midst of his brilliant court. Among the spectators, gathered even from foreign lands, was young Louis Corbinelli, who had come from his native city, Florence, to assist at the festival. Corbinelli contemplated with admiration the glory of the French monarch, now at the zenith of his grandeur and prosperity, when suddenly he saw him fall, struck by a fatal blow aimed by an imprudent filter. The lance badly directed by Montgomery transpierced the King, who expired bathed in his blood.

In the twinkling of an eye all his glory vanished and the royal magnificence was covered with a shroud. This event made a salutary impression upon Corbinelli; seeing the vanity of human greatness thus exposed, he renounced the world and embraced a religious life in the Society of Jesus. His life was that of a saint, and his death filled with joy all those who were witnesses of it. It took place a few days before that of Saint Aloysius, who was then sick in the Roman College. The young saint announced to Cardinal Bellarmine that the soul of Father Corbinelli had entered into glory; and when the Cardinal asked him if it had not passed through Purgatory, “It passed through,” he replied, “but it did not stay.”

MLA Citation