Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 59

Saint Claude de la ColombiereArticle

Means to Avoid Purgatory – Privileges of the Holy Scapular – Venerable Father de la Colombiere – The Hospital at Toulon – The Sabbatine – Saint Teresa – A Lady at Otranto

According to what we have said, the Blessed Virgin has attached two great privileges to the holy scapular; on their part, the Sovereign Pontiffs have added to them the richest indulgences. We shall not speak here of the two indulgences; but we consider it useful to make these two precious privileges thoroughly known, the one under the name of Preservation, the other under that of Deliverance.

The first is the exemption from the torments of Hell: In hoc moriens aeternum non patietur incendium – “He who dies wearing this habit shall not suffer the fire of Hell.” It is evident that he who dies in mortal sin, even whilst wearing the scapular, will not be exempt from damnation; and such is not the meaning of Mary’s promise. This good Mother has promised mercifully so to dispose all things that he who dies wearing that holy habit will receive an efficacious grace worthily to confess and bewail his faults; or, if he is surprised by sudden death, he will have the time and will to make an act of perfect contrition. We might fill a volume with the miraculous events which prove the fulfillment of this promise. Let it suffice to relate a few of them.

Venerable Father de la Colombiere tells us that a young person, who was at first pious and wore the holy scapular, had the misfortune to stray from the path of virtue. In consequence of bad literature and dangerous company, she fell into the greatest disorders, and was about to lose her honor. Instead of turning to God and having recourse to the Blessed Virgin, who is the refuge of sinners, she abandoned herself to despair. The demon soon suggested a remedy to her evils – the frightful remedy of suicide, which would put an end to her temporal miseries to plunge her into eternal torments. She ran to the river, and, still wearing the scapular, threw herself into the water. But, oh, wonder! she floated instead of sinking, and could not find the death she sought. A fisherman, who saw her, hastened to give her assistance, but the wretched creature prevented him: tearing off her scapular, she cast it far from her and sank immediately. The fisherman was unable to save her, but he found the scapular, and recognized that this sacred livery while she wore it had prevented the sinner from committing suicide.

In the hospital at Toulon there was an officer, a most impious man, who refused to see a priest. Death approached, and he fell into a sort of lethargy. The attendants profited by this to place a scapular about his neck, without his knowledge. On recovering soon after, he cried out in a fury, “Why have you put fire upon me, a fire which burns me? Take it away, take it away!” Then they invoked the Blessed Virgin, and tried again to put on the scapular. He perceived this, tore it off in a rage, threw it far away from him, and with a horrible blasphemy upon his lips he expired.

The second privilege, that of the Sabbatine or Deliverance, consists in being released from Purgatory by the Blessed Virgin on the first Saturday after death. To enjoy this privilege, certain conditions are to be fulfilled: First, to observe the chastity of our state. Second, to recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. Those who recite the Canonical Office satisfy this condition. Those who are unable to read must, instead of saying the Office, observe the fasts prescribed by the Church, and abstain from flesh meat on all Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Third, in case of necessity, the obligation of reciting the Office, the abstinence and fasting, may be commuted into other pious works, by those who have the power to grant such dispensations. Such is the privilege of the Sabbatine or Deliverance, with the conditions necessary to enjoy it. If we remember what has been said of the rigors of Purgatory and its duration, we shall find that this privilege is most precious, and its conditions very easy.

We know that doubts have been raised concerning the authenticity of the Sabbatine Bull, but besides constant tradition and the pious practice of the faithful, the great Pope, Benedict XIV whose eminent learning and moderation of opinions are well known, has pronounced in its favor.

At Otranto, a city in the kingdom of Naples, a lady of high rank experienced great pleasure in assisting at the sermons of a Carmelite Father who was a great promoter of the devotion to Mary. He assured his auditors that all Christians who piously wore the scapular, and fulfilled the pre scribed conditions, would see the Divine Mother at their departure from this world, and that this great consoler of the afflicted would come on the Saturday after their death to deliver them from Purgatory, and take them into the abode of the Blessed. Struck with these precious advantages, this lady immediately put on the livery of the Blessed Virgin, firmly resolved to observe faith fully the rules of the Confraternity. Her piety made rapid progress. She prayed to Mary day and night, placed all her confidence in her, and rendered her all possible homage. Among other favors which she asked, she implored that of dying on a Saturday, in order that she might be the sooner delivered from Purgatory. Her prayers were heard. Some years later, having fallen ill, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of her physician, she declared that her malady would carry her to the grave. “I bless God,” she added, “in the hope of being soon united with Him in Heaven.” Her sickness made such rapid progress that the doctors unanimously declared that she was at the point of death, and that she could not live through the day, which was Wednesday. “You are again mistaken,” said the sick lady; “I shall live three days more, and shall not die until Saturday.” The event justified her words. Regarding the days of suffering which remained to her as an inestimable treasure, she profited of them to purify her soul and to increase her merits. When Saturday came, she rendered her soul into the hands of her Creator.

Her daughter, who was also very pious, was inconsolable in her bereavement. Whilst praying in her oratory for the soul of her dear mother, and shedding abundant tears, a great servant of God, who was habitually favored with supernatural communications, went to her and said, “Cease to weep, my child, or rather let your grief be turned into joy. I come to assure you, on the part of God, that today, Saturday, thanks to the privileges granted to the members of the Confraternity of the Scapular, your mother has gone to Heaven, and is numbered among the elect. Be consoled and bless the most August Virgin, the Mother of Mercy.”

MLA Citation