Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 6

detail of a painting of San Pedro Damiani, 18th century by Andrea Barbiani; currently in the Classense Library, Ravenna, Italy; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Consolations of Purgatory – The Blessed Virgin Mary – Privilege of Saturday – Venerable Paula of Saint Teresa – Saint Peter Damian and the Deceased Marozi

It is especially on certain days that the Queen of Heaven exercises her mercy in Purgatory. These privileged days are, first, all Saturdays, then the different feast days of the Blessed Virgin, which thus become as festivals in Purgatory. We see in the revelations of the saints that on Saturday, the day specially consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, the sweet Mother of Mercy descends into the dungeons of Purgatory to visit and console her devoted servants. Then, according to the pious belief of the faithful, she delivers those souls who, having worn the holy scapular, enjoy this Sabbatine privilege, and afterwards gives relief and consolation to other souls who had been particularly devout to her. A witness to this was the Venerable Sister Paula of Saint Teresa, a Dominican Religious of the Convent of Saint Catherine in Naples.

Being rapt in ecstasy one Saturday, and transported in spirit into Purgatory, she was quite surprised to find it transformed into a Paradise of delights, illuminated by a bright light, instead of the darkness which at other times prevailed. Whilst she was wondering what could be the cause of this change, she perceived the Queen of Heaven surrounded by a multitude of angels, to whom she gave orders to liberate those souls who had honored her in a special manner, and conduct them to Heaven.

If such takes place on an ordinary Saturday, we can scarcely doubt that the same occurs on feast days consecrated to the Mother of God. Among all her festivals, that of the glorious Assumption of Mary seems to be the chief day of deliverance. Saint Peter Damian tells us that each year, on the day of the Assumption, the Blessed Virgin delivers several thousands of souls.

The following account of a miraculous vision illustrates this subject: “It is a pious custom,” he says, “which exists among the people of Rome to visit the churches, carrying a candle in the hand, during the night preceding the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.” Now it happened that a person of rank, being on her knees in the basilica of the AraCoeli in the Capitol, saw before her, prostrate in prayer, another lady, her godmother, who had died several months previous. Surprised, and not being able to believe her eyes, she wished to solve the mystery, and for this purpose placed herself near the door of the church. As soon as she saw the lady go out, she took her by the hand and drew her aside. “Are you not,” she said to her, “my godmother, who held me at the baptismal font?” “Yes,” replied the apparition immediately, “it is I.” “And how comes it that I find you among the living, since you have been dead more than a year?” “Until this day I have been plunged in a dreadful fire, on account of the many sins of vanity which I committed in my youth, but during this great solemnity the Queen of Heaven descended into the midst of the Purgatorial flames and delivered me, together with a large number of other souls, that we might enter Heaven on the Feast of her Assumption. She exercises this great act of clemency each year; and, on this occasion alone, the number of those whom she has delivered equals the population of Rome.”

Seeing that her goddaughter remained stupefied and seemed still to doubt the evidence of her sense, the apparition added, “In proof of the truth of my words, know that you yourself will die a year hence, on the feast of the Assumption; if you outlive that period, believe that this was an illusion.”

Saint Peter Damian concluded this recital by saying that the young lady passed the year in the exercise of good works, in order to prepare herself to appear before God. The year following, on the Vigil of the Assumption, she fell sick, and died on the day of the feast itself, as had been predicted.

The feast of the Assumption is, then, the great day of Mary’s mercy towards the poor souls; she delights to introduce her children into the glory of Heaven on the anniversary of the day on which she herself first entered its blessed portals. This pious belief, adds Father Louvet, is founded on a great number of particular revelations; it is for this reason that in Rome the Church of Saint Mary in Montorio, which is the center of the arch-confraternity of suffrages for the dead, is dedicated under the title of the Assumption.

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