Gratitude — St Margaret of Cortona — St. Philip A Neri
— Cardinal Baronius and the Dying Woman.
Is it difficult to understand the gratitude of the holy souls ?
If you had ransomed a captive from the galling yoke of
slavery, would he be grateful for such a benefit? When
the Emperor Charles V. took possession of the city of Tunis,
he restored to liberty twenty thousand Christian slaves, who
before his victory had been reduced to a most deplorable
condition. Penetrated with gratitude towards their bene-
factor, they surrounded him, blessing him and singing his
praises. If you gave health to a person dangerously sick,
fortune to an unhappy creature who had been reduced to
poverty, would you not receive in return their gratitude and
their benedictions ? And those souls, so holy and so good,
will they conduct themselves differently with regard to their
benefactors? — those poor souls whose captivity, poverty,
suffering, and necessity far surpass all captivity, indigence,
or malady to be found upon earth. They come especially
at the hour of death, to protect them, to accompany and
introduce them into the happy abode of their eternal
We have already spoken of St. Margaret of Cortona, and
of her devotion to the holy souls. It is related in her
biography that at her death she saw a multitude of souls
that she had delivered from Purgatory form in procession
to escort her to Paradise. God revealed this favour granted
to Margaret of Cortona through the medium of a holy
person in the city of Castello. This servant of God, wrapt
in ecstasy at the moment when Margaret departed this life,
saw her soul in the midst of this brilliant cortege, and on
recovering from her rapture she related to her friends what
our Lord had been pleased to manifest to her.
St. Philip Neri, founder of the Congregation of the
Oratory, had a most tender devotion towards the holy souls
in Purgatory, and he felt a particular attraction to pray for
those who had been under his spiritual direction. He
considered himself under greatest obligation to them, be-
cause Divine Providence had confided them in a special
manner to his zeal. It seemed to him that his charity
ought to follow them until their final purification was accom-
plished, and they were admitted into the glory of Heaven.
He confessed that many of his spiritual children appeared
to him after their death, either to ask his prayers or to
return him thanks for what he had already done for them.
He declared also that by this means he had obtained more
than one grace.
After his death, a Franciscan Father of great piety was
praying in the chapel in which the venerated remains of
the saint had been deposited, when the latter appeared to
him surrounded with glory and in the midst of a brilliant
train. Encouraged by the air of amiable familiarity with
which the saint regarded him, he ventured to ask the mean-
ing of that bright band of blessed spirits which accompanied
him. The saint replied that they were the souls of those
whose spiritual guide he had been during life, and whom
by his suffrages he had delivered from Purgatory. He
added that they had come to meet him on his departure
from this world, that in their turn they might introduce him
into the Heavenly Jerusalem.
"There is no doubt," says the devout Father Rossignoli, "that on their entrance into eternal glory the first favours which they ask of the Divine Mercy are for those who have opened to them the gates of Paradise, and they will never fail to pray for their benefactors, whenever they see them in any necessity or danger. In reverses of fortune, sicknesses, and accidents of all kinds they will be their protectors. Their zeal will increase when the interests of the soul are at stake ; they will powerfully assist them to vanquish temptation, to practise good works, to die a Christian death, and to escape the sufferings of the other life."
Cardinal Baronius, whose authority as historian is well
known, relates that a person who was very charitable to-
wards the holy souls was afflicted with a terrible agony
when on her deathbed. The spirit of darkness suggested
to her the most gloomy fears, and veiled from her sight
the sweet light of Divine Mercy, endeavouring to drive
her into despair; when suddenly Heaven seemed to open
before her eyes, and she saw thousands of defenders fly
to her aid, reanimating her courage, and promising her
the victory. Comforted by this unexpected assistance, she
asked who were her defenders? "We are," they replied,
" the souls which you have delivered from Purgatory ; we,
in our turn, come to help you, and very soon we shall con-
duct you to Paradise." At these consoling words the sick
person felt that her fears were changed into the sweetest
confidence. A short time afterwards she tranquilly ex-
pired, her countenance serene and her heart filled with
Extract from Purgatory Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, by Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.j.
Tan Books 1986, Pgs 317-320
As Four Men brothers and sisters we bring four thousand souls a day to Jesus through the prayer of St. Gertrude for the Souls in Purgatory and sinners. All those who we help to be released from purgatory will surely assist us in attaining our salvation.