Purgatory Explained, Part 2, Chapter 8

detail of an antique Italian holy card of Blessed Emilia Bicchieri, date and artist unkown; swiped from Santi e BeatiArticle

Consolations of Purgatory – The Angels – Blessed Emilia of Vercelli – The Saints in Heaven

If the holy angels interest themselves in behalf of the souls of Purgatory in general, it is easy to understand that they have particular zeal for those of their clients. In the convent of Vercelli, where Blessed Emilia, a Dominican Religious, was Prioress, it was a point of the Rule never to drink between meals, unless with express permission of the Superior. This permission the Blessed Prioress was not accustomed to accord; she advised her sisters to make that little sacrifice cheerfully, in memory of the burning thirst which our Saviour had endured for our salvation upon the Cross; and to encourage them to do this, she suggested to them to confide those few drops of water to their guardian angels, that he might preserve them until the other life, to temper the heat of Purgatory. The following incident shows how agreeable this pious practice was to God.

A sister named Cecilia Avogadra came one day to ask permission to refresh herself with a little water, for she was parched with thirst. “My daughter,” said the Prioress, “make this little sacrifice for the love of God and in consideration of Purgatory.” “Mother, this sacrifice is not little; I am dying with thirst,” replied the good sister; nevertheless, although somewhat grieved, she obeyed the advice of her Superior. This double act of obedience and mortification was precious in the sight of God, and Sister Cecilia soon received its reward. A few weeks later she died, and after three days she appeared, resplendent in glory, to Mother Emilia. “O Mother!” she said, “how grateful I am to you! I was condemned to a long Purgatory for having had too great affection for my family, and behold, after two days, I saw my angel guardian enter my prison, holding in his hand the glass of water which you caused me to offer as a sacrifice to my Divine Spouse; he poured that water upon the flames which devoured me, they were extinguished immediately, and I am delivered. I take my flight to Heaven, where my gratitude will never forget you.”

It is thus that the angels of God console the souls in Purgatory. It may be here asked how the saints and blessed already crowned in Heaven can assist them? It is certain, says Father Rossignoli, and such is the teaching of all masters in theology, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas, that the saints are very powerful in this respect by way of supplication, or, as we say, by imprecation, but not by satisfaction. In other words, the saints in Heaven may pray for the souls, and thus obtain from Divine Mercy a diminution of their suffering; but they cannot satisfy for them, nor pay their debts to Divine Justice; that is a privilege which God reserves to the Church Militant.

MLA Citation