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Our Lady of Purgatory

Gratitude of souls for their benefactors

If the feeling of gratitude is to be found anywhere, it is certainly in the souls delivered from Purgatory.

In Brittany, a man who was busy with all the affairs of the century, nevertheless led a very religious life. Among his other virtues was a great charity towards the poor dead, for whom he offered many prayers, alms, penances and other meritorious works. He never passed through a cemetery, for example, without stopping for a few moments to pray over the graves for all those whose mortal remains lay there; he would kneel down for this holy service, without any human respect. God made known how pleasing this fidelity and zeal were to Him, and on this occasion permitted a great wonder. This fervent Christian fell seriously ill, and immediately called the parish priest to bring him the holy viaticum, which he had the greatest desire to receive in his sufferings, as a necessary nourishment for his weakness and the temptations with which the devil usually assails the infirm. It was the middle of the night; the parish priest could not come himself, but he sent his vicar, who consoled the pious servant of God and provided him with all the blessings of the Church.

The ceremony ended with the prayers of the dying, because the illness was getting worse; then the priest withdrew. But when he arrived at the cemetery, he felt himself stopped by an invisible force, which did not allow him to take another step. Astonished, even frightened, he looked around and saw the church door wide open, although he was sure he had locked it on the way out. While he was wondering what this meant, he heard a voice coming out of the sanctuary saying distinctly: “Come, all of you who have already been admitted to the splendors of heaven, and pray together for your benefactor, who has just given up the ghost. Gratitude demands it, and we cannot give him enough thanks for all the good his generous piety has done us, especially us who are waiting in this cemetery for the supreme resurrection.”

Immediately an extraordinary crash took place all around the frightened vicar; it seemed to him as if the bones were coming out of the tombs in the cemetery and gathering. At the same time the church seemed to be illuminated. The dead lined up in the choir and began to sing, with a heavenly voice, the Office of the Dead, which they solemnly completed. When it was finished, the same voice that had given the order at the beginning was heard again and commanded the bodies to return to their funeral home, which was done while the lights of the altar were extinguished at once.

The priest, who had remained as if nailed to his seat, hardly daring to breathe, was then able to return freely to the holy place and place the ciborium there; then he ran to tell his vision to the parish priest, who was as amazed as he was, but doubting the reality. Just as he was saying: “At least we should know if the patient is really dead, which is unlikely,” there was a knock at the door, and a messenger came to bring the news of the death, which had taken place at the very hour of the vision.

The vicar was so impressed that he said goodbye to the world, renounced all earthly hopes and went to shut himself up in the monastery of Saint-Martin in Tours, of which he was later elected prior. It is probably superfluous to add that the rest of his life was spent praying for the souls in purgatory and asking God for their deliverance, assured that they in turn would not abandon him on the day of judgment.

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