Prayers and a few Interesting Facts about Purgatory

Christ, our Savior, suffered cruelly that He might deliver them

The person who assigned November 2nd as the feast of All Souls was St Odilon, or “Père Odilon” as he would have been known back in his day because he was a French priest. In fact, Odilon was the fifth Benedictine abbot of Cluny, who lived from 962 to 1048.

Before he selected one whole day to honour all the souls who died in the arms of Mother Church, Odilon heard of the severe disappointment he and his monks caused demons because he saved souls from their torments, and [as you can find out from his story HERE ] this motivated him to do even more for souls. The Church in her great wisdom now dedicates the whole month of November to prayer especially for the souls in Purgatory.

So many souls pass time in Purgatory awaiting the cleansing of the sins for which they had not made sufficient reparation in their lives on earth before death caught up with them. We must not forget these Holy Souls who suffer so greatly, although having the assurance that one longed-for day they will be released from their pains and will be taken to heaven, they are not without hope.

It is especially pitiful when men and women – priests, religious and nuns – who once vowed to dedicate their whole lives to the service of God to lead souls to heaven, do not live up to their promises.

St Bernard of Clairvaux was once gifted to the sight of the fate of a recently deceased lukewarm priest from his abbey who was plunged into an abyss of flames. He had lived his life as a priest in total tepidness, but in Purgatory he was assayed in flames so hot they defy human understanding. Bernard discerned it as a grave warning from God, and called a chapter of all the priests of his order. His eyes dripped with tears as he told them the state of the lukewarm priest, and he asked them to do their utmost to relieve their brother with prayer.

The fate of this priest calls to mind Revelation 3:16: “But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth”.  

You may have had that feeling when you ask people in this life to pray that they pray sparingly and reluctantly, even if you have a dire problem or have loved ones in need of more prayer than you can humanly offer in one day, but if you are to give your good works as a soothing balm to the aching souls in Purgatory, their intense appreciation translates into prayer for you and yours when they are in Purgatory and when they gain their entrance into Heaven.

If you have ever wanted a grateful posse of souls praying for you unceasingly, you may pay it forward, by first giving them relief from their pains. Here is a marvellous way of offering all one’s good daily works and suffering for the Holy Souls with a special vow:


Oh Holy and Adorable Trinity, desiring to co-operate in the deliverance of the souls in Purgatory, and to testify my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cede and renounce on behalf of those holy souls all the satisfactory part of my works, and all the suffrages which may  be given to me after my death, consigning them entirely into the hands of the most Blessed Virgin, that she may apply them accordingly to her good pleasure to those souls of the faithful departed whom she desires to deliver from their sufferings. Deign, O my God, to accept and bless this offering which I make to Thee at this moment. Amen.

A Daily Prayer for the Dead

Immortal God, holy Lord, Father and protector of everything You have created, we raise our hearts to You today for those who have passed from mortal life. 

In Your loving mercy, Father of men, be pleased to receive them into Your Heavenly company, and forgive them the failings and faults of human frailty. 

Your only Son, Christ, our Savior, suffered cruelly that He might deliver them from the second death. By His merits deliver them from the second death. 

By His merits may they share in the glory of His victory over sin and death. We pray for all the faithful who have died, but in particular for those dear to us, parents, relatives and friends. Nor do we forget those who did us good while on earth, who helped us by their prayers, sacrifices and example. We pray also for any who may have done su harm and stand in need of Your special forgiveness. 

May the merits of our Virgin Mother Mary, and those of all Your angels and saints, speak for us and assist them now. This we ask in Christ’s name. Amen. 

(Father Alessio Parente’s book The Holy Souls: “Viva Padre Pio”.)

How Long is Purgatory?

Concerning the duration of Purgatory, the Church simply tells us that it is not a place of everlasting pain, but will end at the last judgment; neither are we informed of the length of time required for the purification of a soul. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the soul, to be reunited to her Creator in Heaven, must be in the state of primitive innocence which adorned her when she proceeded from His hand. The image of God must be entirely restored within her, commensurate with the degree of glory awaiting her in Heaven. From this it is evident that the suffering souls cannot enter Heaven until perfectly cleansed, either by their pains or by the suffrages of the faithful. With the royal Prophet they cry out in plaintive voices: “As the heart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God! When shall I come and appear before the face of God?” (Ps. xli. 2-3.) They suffer until entirely purified, until the last farthing of their debt is paid. Increased and intensified pain will probably supply the want of time for the souls who will not have rendered full satisfaction before the last day.

Efficacy of the Rosary for the Suffering Souls

(from the Manual of the Purgatorial Society 1907)

St. Dominic declared that the redemption of the holy souls from Purgatory is one of the principal effects of the Rosary. The venerable Alanus writes that many of the brethren had assured him that numerous souls had appeared to them whilst reciting the Rosary, and had declared that next to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass there was no more powerful means of helping the suffering souls than the Rosary. And numerous souls were daily released thereby, who otherwise would have been obliged to remain there for years. St. Alphonsus Liguori, therefore, says: ” If we wish to be of assistance to the souls in Purgatory, we must always remember them in our prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and especially offer the holy Rosary for them.”

Let us then frequently and with devotion recite the Rosary, which is so pleasing to our Blessed Mother, recommended most especially by Holy Church, discloses to us a rich source of grace, and is so efficacious in relieving the suffering souls and opening Heaven to them. Should our labor prevent us from reciting the entire Rosary every day, let us, at least, say a part of it. This simple homage to the Queen of Heaven will draw great blessing down upon us. And the holy souls will be wonderfully consoled and relieved if this devotion be offered in their behalf.


O God! the Bestower of forgiveness and the lover of human salvation, we implore Thee, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all Thy saints, grant to the souls of our brethren, relatives, benefactors, and all the faithful departed, the joys of eternal bliss. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Special Intercession: Pray for the souls who are most desirous of obtaining help from you. Lord grant them eternal rest, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Invocation: My Jesus, mercy! Lord grant them eternal rest, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Read here about the Austrian mystic, Maria Simma, who over many years received visits from the suffering souls in Purgatory.

Finally, a brief reminder that the November Holy Souls indulgence is extended for the whole month this year. This is a great opportunity to help in particular the souls of our loved ones, those of priests and religious, the fallen and the many forgotten souls, expiating for their sins in purgatory.

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