Padre Pio, Holy Souls and November Indulgences

Padre Pio, Purgatory, & Plenary Indulgences for the Holy Souls

Some friars who lived in San Giovanni Rotondo with Padre Pio once heard a mysterious sound coming from the friary. It sounded, one of the friars said, like “voices singing in beautiful harmony.” No one could find the source.

Padre Pio was deep in prayer at the time, and someone approached him to ask if he knew where the singing was coming from. Roused as if from a deep sleep, he answered, “Why are you all so surprised? They are the voices of the angels, who are taking souls from purgatory into paradise.” 

This story and others, told in the book Padre Pio: The True Story by C. Bernard Ruffin, illustrate Padre Pio’s supernatural sensitivity to the angelic world and the souls in purgatory. 

Padre Pio was able not only to hear but to see souls from the other world. At times, he was given the gift of knowing the eternal condition of those who had died. It is said that the widow of a man who died by suicide once inquired about the state of her husband’s soul, and Padre Pio replied, “He’s saved. Between the bridge and the river he repented.” 

His supernatural gifts did not come easily. They marked a life of intense suffering, including Padre Pio’s bearing the wounds of the stigmata for 50 years. 

In his suffering, Padre Pio had a special devotion to the souls in purgatory. Early in his priesthood, he wrote to his spiritual director, “For some time I have felt the need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for souls in purgatory. This desire has grown continuously in my heart, until now it has become a powerful passion. I made this offering to the Lord, imploring Him to lay on me the punishments that are prepared for sinners and for souls in purgatory, even multiplying them upon me a hundredfold as long as He converts and saves sinners and quickly releases the souls in purgatory.” 

Padre Pio said that suffering increasingly and without comfort was “all his joy” because it made the pains of Jesus lighter. 

“I Need a Holy Mass”

In 1922, Padre Pio told a bishop and several friars the story of a soul who had visited him from purgatory. 

On a snowy winter evening, Padre Pio was sitting by the fireplace in the friary, praying, when an old man sat down beside him. Padre Pio could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night.

“Who are you? What do you want?” Padre asked.

The man said his name was Pietro Di Mauro, and that he had died in this friary on September 18, 1908, when it was a poorhouse. He had fallen asleep with a lighted cigar, which set the mattress on fire, and he died, suffocated and burned. 

“I am still in purgatory,” the old man said. “I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help.” 

“Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation,” Padre Pio answered, and then walked him to the door, which had been closed and locked. 

Padre Pio offered Mass for the old man as promised. A few days later, he went with another friar to the town hall and looked at records from 1908. There they found that on September 18 of that year, a man named Pietro Di Mauro had indeed died of burns and asphyxiation in the place which at that time was a poorhouse and now was the friary. 

The Holy Souls are Powerful Intercessors

The holy souls need our prayers –and at the same time, they can be powerful intercessors for us. The Catechism (958) says that “our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.” When we pray for them, it makes them able to pray for us.

This reciprocity has been understood since the early days of the Church. St. Odilo, who lived at the turn of the first millennium and was the first to establish All Souls Day, composed this prayer, in which he not only prays for the souls in purgatory but also asks for their intercession:

O holy souls, I promise never to forget you, and to pray to the Most High for your release. I beseech you to respond to this offering which I make to you. Obtain for us peace of heart, assist us in all our actions, console and defend us in our dangers, that we may one day all rejoice together in paradise. O God the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of your departed servants the remission of their sins, that they may obtain the joys of heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Plenary Indulgence in November

Each November, the Church, in Her goodness, offers a gift for the faithful to give to the souls in purgatory. The faithful can gain a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory by visiting a cemetery and praying there for the dead.

As Fr Zuhlsdorf reminds us, that in these times of COVID, the plenary indulgence granted for visiting a cemetery to pray for the dead from 1-8 November, is extended to other days of the month as the faithful choose.

The plenary indulgence for 2 November for the faithful who visit a church or oratory and recite an Our Father and the Apostles Creed can be transferred to the previous or following Sunday or to All Saints or even on another day of November as the faithful choose.

The plenary indulgence for 2 November for the faithful who visit a church or oratory and recite an Our Father and the Apostles Creed can be transferred to the previous or following Sunday or to All Saints or even on another day of November as the faithful choose.

The elderly or sick or those for some reason cannot leave their dwelling, even because of a government lockdown, can obtain the plenary indulgence.  Provided that they are completely detached from sin and have the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual condition of sacramental confession, Holy Communion and prayer for the intentions designated by the Pope,  the obtain the plenary indulgence by praying before an image of the Lord or the Blessed Virgin pious prayers for the dead such as Lauds and Vespers from the Office for the Dead, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or other prayers for the dead, or meditate on a Gospel passage proposed by the Liturgy for the Dead, or do a work of mercy by offering their pain and discomfort to God.

In order to obtain the indulgence, a Catholic in the state of grace must have the intention to obtain it and fulfill the following conditions: 

  • (a) visit a cemetery and pray there for the dead, even if only mentally 
  • (b) make a sacramental confession (a single confession, within about 20 days before or after, will suffice for all the indulgences a person obtains within that time period) 
  • (c) receive Holy Communion
  • (d) recite at least one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the Holy Father 
  • (e) be free from attachment to all sin, including venial 

One plenary indulgence may be obtained each day. The indulgence becomes partial if the conditions are partially fulfilled.

A note about the last condition: Sometimes people wonder whether it is possible for them to be completely detached from venial sin. I believe the answer to this is found in Mark 10, when Jesus tells his disciples how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God, and they wonder who then can be saved.

“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God,” Jesus tells them. “All things are possible for God.”

Even if it would be impossible for us to be completely detached from sin, it is not impossible for God. As Matthew 7 reminds us, “Ask, and it will be given you;” for our Father in heaven gives “good things to those who ask him.” Let’s ask Him, then, for the grace to be detached from all sin.

God is on our side. He wants us to be able to obtain this indulgence as an act of charity for the souls in purgatory, and He will help us fulfill the conditions if we only ask. 

(sources: Catholic Exchange and Fr Z’s blog)

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1 Response to Padre Pio, Holy Souls and November Indulgences

  1. kathleen says:

    The Plenary Indulgence attributable to the faithful departed throughout the whole month of November (if we fulfill the conditions laid out beforehand of course) is the best possible news in these hard times for the Church. Just imagine how many of our loved ones we, the Church Militant, shall be able to release from the pains of Purgatory! Up to nine I believe, according to a priest in the comment section on Father Z’s blog.

    So what if the souls we specifically pray for have already gone to Heaven?
    Well, prayer is never wasted, and the indulgence obtained will be attributed to another unknown soul suffering in Purgatory “who has no one to pray for them”. How eternally grateful these forgotten souls will be.

    Purgatory has often become a taboo subject among the post-V2 Church. And who are the ones paying the price for that? Those who die and then become “the poor souls” suffering and forgotten because at their funerals progressive priests have told the mourners that so-and-so is already now happy in Heaven!!! The grieving family and friends go home consoled believing in Father’s sugary words. Whereas:

    Most souls pass through the purifying pains of Purgatory before entering Heaven. Some for a short time but some for a very very long time. Our Lord has told us this stark truth… and the Blessed Virgin Mary too (at Fatima). Visionaries, mystics and many holy saints have also revealed this to us. So why do many today still ignore this important Church teaching?

    Pray for the Holy Souls.
    Before long we shall become part of their number.


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