Mrs. James Sadlier.

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open. She went down to him, taking her candle with her. When she came
near him, the prince rose to meet her, took her hand, and, without
speaking, led her to the altar, and they both knelt down together. They
prayed for some time in silence, then he rose once more, and standing
at the foot of the altar, said: "Tell my children, my dear child, that
their prayers and yours are heard. Tell them that God has accepted the
_Via Crucis_ [1] which they have daily made for me, and your
prayers also. I am with God in His glory, and I will pray for all those
who have so faithfully prayed for me." As he spoke, his face seemed
lighted up as with the glory usually painted round the head of a saint.
With a farewell look he vanished, and she awoke.

[Footnote 1: Way of the Cross, more commonly called the Stations of the

At breakfast she appeared agitated. She sat beside the prince's
granddaughter, Princess Adelaide Löwenstein, afterwards married to Don
Miguel of Portugal. This lady asked her what was the matter. She
related her dream, and then begged to know what prayers the princesses
had offered for the repose of his Highnesses' soul. They were the
_Via Crucis_. - _Footsteps of Spirits_. [1]

[Footnote 1: Published by Burns & Lambert of London.]


When the Benedictine College at Ampleforth, in Yorkshire, was building,
a few years ago, one of the masons attracted the attention of the
community by the interest which he took in the incidents of their daily
life. He had to walk from a village three miles off, so as to be at the
college every morning by six o'clock. He was first much pleased with
the regularity of the community, whom he always found in the church,
singing the Hours before Mass, on his arrival in the morning. By
degrees he was taught the whole of the Catholic doctrine, and was
received into the Church. None of his family, however, would follow his
example. Exposure to cold and wet brought on an illness, of which he
died, in a very pious manner. A short time after his death, his wife
was one morning sweeping about the open door of her house, when her
husband walked in, and sat down on a seat by the fire, and began to ask
her how she did. She answered that she was well, and hoped he was happy
where he was. He replied that he was, at that time; that, at first, he
had passed through Purgatory, and had undergone a brief purification;
but that, when this was ended, he had been taken to the enjoyment of
the bliss of God in heaven. He remained talking to her some little time
longer, then he bade her farewell, and disappeared.

The woman applied to a Catholic priest for instruction; and it was
found that, although she had never in her life read a Catholic book,
nor conversed about the Catholic religion with any one, she had
acquired a complete knowledge of the doctrine of Purgatory from that
short interview with her husband. She, too, became a Catholic. The
author was told this story by one who was a member of the community of
Ampleforth at the time.

A missionary priest at B - - (in England), a very few years ago,
promised to say Mass for a woman in his congregation who had died.
Among other engagements of the same kind, he unconsciously overlooked
her claim upon him. By and by her husband came to him, and begged him
to remember his promise. The missionary thought that he had already
done so. "Oh! no, sir," the man replied; "I can assure you that you
have not; my poor wife has been to me to tell me so, and to get you to
do this act of charity for her." The priest was satisfied of his
omission, and immediately supplied it. Soon after, the poor man
returned to thank him, at the woman's desire. She had told her husband
that now she was perfectly happy in heaven; her face, which had
appeared much disfigured at her first visit, was surrounded with a halo
of light when she came again. This anecdote reached the author through
a common friend of his own and of the missionary.

A similar anecdote is told of a nun in the English convent of Bruges,
between thirty and forty years ago. A relation of Canon Schmidt had
died in the house, and Miss L - - , another nun, much attached to her,
saw her friend one night in a dream. She seemed to come with a serious
countenance, and pointed to the Office for the Dead in an office-book,
which she appeared to hold in her hand. Her friend was much perplexed,
and consulted Miss N - - , a third nun, who suggested that perhaps Miss
L - - had not said the Office three times, as usual, for her deceased
sister. Miss L - - was nearly sure that she had; but as she had a habit
of marking off this obligation as it was discharged, it could be easily
ascertained. On examining her private note-book, it turned out that she
had not said the three Offices. Miss N - - 's sister, who was educated
in the same convent, told the author this little story, and afterwards
was good enough to revise his narrative of it. So that this account is
virtually her own. Though seeming to have passed through two channels
on its way to this book, that is, through the author's memory and his
friend's, yet having, submitted to the latter a written memorandum of
the narrative, and received and adopted his friend's corrections, the
story is as authentic as if it had passed through only one intermediate
channel. For there is no doubt that the value of a story diminishes
rapidly with every additional hand through which it passes. -
_Footsteps of Spirits_, 113-14.


One evening in the month of July, 184 - , a happy group were gathered in
the wide porch of a well-known mansion in Prince George's County,
Maryland. A little Catholic church had been recently built in the
village of L - - by the zealous and wealthy proprietor of "Monticello,"
and as the means of the newly-formed congregation were too limited to
support a resident pastor, one of the Reverend Fathers from Georgetown
kindly came out once a fortnight to celebrate Mass and administer the
Sacraments. On the eve of the favored Sunday, Doctor J - - took his
carriage to the railway station and brought back the Reverend Father
named for that week's services; and his visit was always looked for
with delight by all the household at Monticello, domestics and
children, but by none so much as by three recent converts to our holy
faith, who often took occasion to propound to their amiable and learned
guest any doubts on religious questions that had arisen during the
course of the intervening weeks.

On the evening above mentioned, the priest who came was an Italian
Jesuit, the Reverend Father G - - . He held his little audience
entranced with a fund of edifying stories and interesting replies to
the questions asked. The calm serenity of the night, the gentle,
refreshing breeze that came from a neighboring wood of pine-trees, the
beautiful glitter of the flitting glow-worm, and the rich perfume
wafted from the purple magnolia _grandiflora_ - all added to the
enchantment. The doctor broke the charm by saying: "Reverend Father, we
shall be obliged to leave early to-morrow morning. The carriage will be
ready for you at 6 o'clock."

"Is it a long drive to the church?" asked Father G - - .

"No; only four miles," answered the doctor; "but there will be many
confessions to hear and, perhaps, some baptisms to administer; hence,
unless the work is begun early, Mass will not be over before 12

"I hope, then," replied the Father, smiling, "that you will not fail to
awake betimes."

"As to that," rejoined the doctor, "when I have to arise at any
particular time, I recite a _De Profundis_ for the relief of the
suffering souls, and I am sure of awaking promptly at he right hour."

"I can easily credit that," said Father G - - .

"It is a pious practice which was recommended to me by the late Dr.
Ryder, of Georgetown, when I was at the College," said the host; "and I
have never found that any one to whom I taught the practice failed to
find it truly efficacious."

"If it would not detain you too long beyond your customary hours," said
Father G - - , "I would add to my long list of anecdotes one more on the
_De Profundis_."

All present besought the priest to favor them; in truth, the worthy
household never wearied of pious conversation.

"It happened," began the good priest, with religious modesty, "that
about twenty years ago I accompanied a number of prominent members of
our Society who had been summoned to the Mother House, in Rome, on
business of importance. The Fathers carried with them precious
documents from their several provinces; and, besides the purse
necessary to meet their current travelling expenses, certain
contributions from churches as Peter's Pence, and donations for the
General of the Society. Our way lay across the Apennines, and we were
numerous enough to fill a large coach. We knew that the fastnesses of
the mountains were infested by outlawed bands, and we had been careful
to select an honest driver. Before setting out, it was agreed that we
should place ourselves under the protection of the Holy Souls by
reciting a _De Profundis_ every hour. At a given signal, mental or
vocal prayer, reading or recreation, would be suspended, and the psalm
recited in unison.

"Luigi, the driver, had been instructed, in case of any apparent
danger, to make three distinct taps on the roof of our vehicle with the
heavy end of his whip. We travelled the whole day undisturbed, without
other interruptions than those called for by the observance of our
itinerary. Just as the evening twilight began, we reached the summit of
a lofty mountain. The air was cool, the scenery wild and majestic, and
each of us seemed absorbed in the pleasant glimpses of the receding
landscapes, when we were startled by three ominous knocks on the roof
of our coach. Before we could ask any questions, Luigi had given his
horses such blows as nearly made them throw us out of the vehicle, and
sent the animals running at a break-neck speed. We looked, we listened,
and, to our amazement and horror, beheld about a dozen bandits on
either side of the road, with arms uplifted, and holding deadly
weapons, as if ready and determined to strike with well-aimed
precision. But, strange to say, they all remained as motionless as
statues, until we had gone on so far as to leave them a mere speck on
the descending horizon.

"Each one of our party had kept exterior silence, but inwardly put his
trust in the Most High. At last, Luigi halted. His horses were white
with foam, and panting as if they would never breathe naturally again.

"A miracle!" cried Luigi, signing himself with the mystic Sign; "may
God and Our Lady be praised! I tell you, Fathers, it is a miracle that
we are not dead men!" "'Indeed, a very special protection of Divine
Providence said the superior _pro tem_.; 'and we must all thank
God with our whole hearts.'

"'I tell you,' broke in Luigi, 'those were horrible men; I never saw
any look fiercer.'

"'Then, as soon as your horses are able, we had better move on. Shall
you be obliged to change them before we get to our proposed stopping-
place?' asked the superior.

"'Oh, we must not stop to change! we should be tracked by some of their
spies. We had better go on; and, as the road descends gently, I think
this team will make the remainder of the route.'

"'Well,' said our superior, as we re-entered the coach, 'we must all
offer a Mass in thanksgiving to-morrow;' to which we all heartily
assented, and found subject for conversation the rest of the way in
recalling the particulars of our wondrous escape.

"Holy obedience afterwards stationed me," continued the Reverend
Father, "at the GesĂș. About two years later, I was called upon to
instruct a prisoner condemned to capital punishment. 'He appears to
have been a desperate man,' said the jailer, as he drew aside the
enormous bolts of iron that held fast the door of a corridor leading to
a dismal dungeon; 'now, however, he is a little subdued; he even seems
contrite at times, and I hope he will die penitent.'

"I visited the prisoner several times; he was always glad to see me,
but it cost him a great effort to open his heart, and make a full
confession. His birth and parentage, and advantages for a liberal
education, should have brought him to a widely-different destiny. He
had loved adventure naturally, but had taken a wrong direction. He
might have become a famous military man, whereas he was only a rough,
desperate highwayman. To win him to God, I began to listen to
narratives of his wild brigand exploits. I affected to be interested in
these daring adventures, and then succeeded in pointing out to him the
sin that abounded in each and every act. One day, as he was speaking of
the latest years of his life, I was greatly surprised to hear him
recount the identical incident with which I began my story. He
described to me in the most graphic terms the wonderful manner in which
his hands and those of his comrades had been held by an invisible,
irresistible power, saying that they had returned to their mountain
haunts perfectly dismayed; that some of them appeared to have a vague
and conscientious alarm, though revelry and song soon banished such
misgivings. He told me that they knew the carriage was full of Jesuit
priests, and that they had been promised a great pecuniary reward by a
prominent member of the Freemason Society if they should succeed in
seizing our luggage.

"I then made known to my penitent my share in that providential escape;
he at once fell on his knees, wept long and bitterly, and finally asked
my forgiveness. I prepared him for his dreadful end, and believe he
died at peace with God, so great is the mercy of Jesus to the contrite
soul, 'even though his sins be as scarlet.' I asked his permission to
narrate the particulars of his portion of the story, and he gladly gave
it, hoping to merit something for his sin-burdened soul by that act of

We were all much impressed by the Reverend Father's narrative, and as
we bade one another good-night, the doctor remarked that a kind deed
performed for others was sure to merit a blessing in return, even
though it were so small a favor as that gained by his favorite practice
of saying the _De Profundis_.

"Yes," said Father G - - , "charity never fails." - _Ave Maria_,
Nov. 24th, 1883.


The following fact took place in Montreal, Canada, some three or four
years since. We shall leave the zealous member of our association who
related it to us to tell his own story:

"One morning," said he, "coming back from Mass, I saw Mr. C - - , who
was also coming out of the church. He was a worthy man, fearing God and
fulfilling his duties faithfully and conscientiously. I said to myself:
'There is a man who deserves to belong to our association.' For is it
not always a favor when God deems us worthy to do something for Him?

"I approached and asked him if he would not like to become a member of
our association. 'What association?' 'The Association of the Way of the
Cross and Masses. It is to relieve the dead by prayer and alms, two
powerful means.' 'Ah! I knew nothing of it. What has to be done?' 'It
suffices to make the Way of the Cross once a week and pay for a Mass
once a month.' 'I love the souls in Purgatory,' he said, 'and I do all
I can to relieve them. But, you see, things are not going well with me
just now. I have been a long time sick, and am hardly able yet to
discharge my ordinary duties.'

"At these words I cast my eyes on the speaker, and saw what I had not
before noticed, that he looked pale and worn. He went on: 'As for
paying anything, it would be impossible for me to do it; I have
contracted debts, and if my ill health should continue,' he added, in a
faltering voice, 'I shall be obliged to sell my little house.' Then he
stopped, his heart evidently full, and tears in his eyes. 'But
Providence watches over you, and nothing happens without God's good
leave. If a single hair of our head cannot fall unless He will it, what
have you to fear? Do something for God whilst you can. If you are
liberal to Him, He will be more so towards you. Do you remember the
promise Our Lord made to St. Gertrude? 'I will give an hundred-fold,'
said He, 'for all thou shalt do for my beloved ones in Purgatory.' This
promise was not for St. Gertrude alone; it was likewise for you. For
one dollar that you give, you will gain ten; and if you are resolved to
help the poor souls all you can, they will get you health to do it.'
'Ah! what you say touches me much, and truly I know not what to do.'
After a moment's hesitation, he quickly resumed: 'Well, sir, although I
am actually in distress, I am going to try; it may be the best means of
getting out of it.' 'Yes, try; we run no risk when we make the Holy
Souls our debtors.'

"At these words, he drew from his pocket a small purse which contained
only half a dollar. 'There is all my wealth, and I am happy to share it
with you,' and he gave me the stipend for a Mass. 'I will perhaps put
myself to some inconvenience in giving you that sum, trifling though it
be; but, blessed be God! I will bear with the inconvenience, thinking
that those who suffer much more than I will obtain some relief in their
cruel torments. I will also pray for them, and that they may obtain for
me the resignation which is so pleasing to God.'

"When I saw the noble sentiments of this man, I shook him by the hand,
warmly thanked him, and reminded him that God was always touched by
such acts, and that He knew how to reward them.

"From that moment, strange to say, that frail, delicate man began to
recover his strength, work came back to his shop, and everything grew
brighter around him. And, as an additional reward from Heaven, he was
animated by a new zeal for the Holy Souls, for he not only paid his own
little contribution regularly, but he also collected the money for as
many Masses as he could on one side and another.

"Six or seven months thus passed away amid ever increasing prosperity,
when one day he said to me in presence of several persons: 'Last
autumn, before I gave my name to the Association for the Souls in
Purgatory, I was so sick and so discouraged that I thought I should
die; but when I had paid for my first Mass, from that moment, as all
may see, my health began to return, and with it my courage. To-day, as
you see, I am perfectly well. Moreover, I have found means to pay off
one hundred and fifty dollars of debt, and to have fifty dollars' worth
of repairs made to my little house. How has all that been done? I know
not: for you will admit that, by a poor shoemaker such as I, who works
at his bench and without even an apprentice, after such a hard winter,
and without any advance before me, to find means, despite all that, to
provide for the support of his family and pay two hundred dollars over
and above, is something extraordinary.

"'But I know well to whom I owe it all; hence,' he added, with a smile,
'that has given me new zeal. Now, I work not only for myself; every
evening I go out collecting for our good Souls in Purgatory, and,
blessed be God! I have got one hundred and fifty dollars for the
Association of Masses. Have I not, sir?' he added, addressing the
treasurer, who was present.

"'Yes, you have, indeed, collected one hundred and fifty dollars,
perhaps something more, by twenty-five cents here and twenty-five cents
there, with a perseverance and a zeal beyond all praise, and well
deserving of the favors you have received.'

"'Ah!' said this worthy man, so admirable in his simplicity and the
fervor of his conviction, 'it is that I still desire something; I now
expect that they will make me better,' and he sighed.

"Thus was this good man rewarded for his confidence in the Souls in
Purgatory, and such was his gratitude to them." - _Almanac of the Souls
in Purgatory, 1877_.


I once heard an anecdote of a good priest who was in the habit of
saying the De Profundis every day for the Souls in Purgatory, but,
happening one day to omit it, either through inadvertence or press of
occupation, he was passing through a cemetery about the close of day,
when he suddenly heard, through the hushed silence of the lonely place
and the solemn evening's hour, a mournful voice repeating the first
words of the beautiful psalm - _De Profundis clamavit Domini_ - then
it stopped, but the priest, as soon as he had recovered from the first
shock, and remembering with bitter self-reproach his omission, took up
the words where the supernatural voice had left off, and finished the
recitation of the _De Profundis_, resolving, as he did so, that,
for the time to come, nothing should prevent him from reciting it every
day, and more than once in the day, for the benefit of the dear
suffering Souls.


There is a very strange story concerning Purgatory related by St. John
the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria, in the end of the sixth and the
beginning of the seventh century. A little before a great mortality
which took place in that city, several inhabitants of the Island of
Cyprus were carried off to Persia and cast into a prison so severe that
it was called the _Oblivion_. Some of them, however, succeeded in
making their escape and returned to their own country. A father and
mother, whose son had been carried off with the others, asked them for
tidings of their son. "Alas!" said they, "your son died on such a day;
we ourselves had the sad consolation of giving him burial." The poor
parents hastened then to have a solemn service performed for the repose
of his soul; this they had done three times every year, continuing in
prayer for the same intention. But, marvellous to relate! one day this
son, so much regretted, so fondly remembered, came knocking at their
door and threw himself into their arms. He had been supposed dead for
four years, yet was really alive, he whom the other prisoners had
buried having had a great resemblance to him, that is all. "How! is it
really thou, dear son? Oh! how we mourned for thee! Three times every
year we had a solemn service for thee." "On what days?" eagerly
demanded the son. "On the holy days of Christmas, Easter, and
Pentecost." "Precisely!" he exclaimed; "on those very days I saw, each
time, an officer radiant with light, who came to me and taking off my
chains, opened the doors of my prison. I went forth into the city,
walked wherever I wished, without any one appearing to notice me; only,
in the evening, I always found myself miraculously chained in my
dungeon. It was the fruit of your good prayers, and if I had been in
Purgatory, they would have served at the same time to relieve me; I
beseech you not to forget me when the good God shall see fit to call me
to Himself." - _Leontius, Life of St. John the Almoner._


I have somewhere read, says a Catholic writer, that a Swiss Protestant
was converted to the true religion solely on account of our having the
consoling doctrine of Purgatory, whereas Protestants will not admit of
it. He was a Lutheran somewhat advanced in age, and he had a brother
who passed for a worthy man, as the world goes, but had also the
misfortune of being a Protestant. He fell sick, and notwithstanding the
care of several physicians, died, and was buried by a Protestant
minister of Berne. His death was a terrible blow to the brother of whom
I speak. Hoping to dissipate his grief he tried travelling, but the
thought of his brother's eternal destiny pursued him everywhere. He one
day, on board a steamer, made the acquaintance of a Catholic priest,
with whom he entered into conversation. Confidence was soon established
between them; they spoke of death, and the afflicted traveller asked
the priest what he thought of it. "What I think is this," replied the
priest: "When a man has perfectly discharged all his duties to God, his
neighbor and himself, he goes straight to heaven; if he have not
discharged them, or have neglected any of those which are essential, he
goes straight to hell; but if he have only to reproach himself with
those trifling faults which are inseparable from our frail nature, he
spends some time in Purgatory." At these words the listener smiled with
evident relief and satisfaction; he felt consoled. "Sir," cried he, "I
will become a Catholic, and for this reason: Protestants only admit of
heaven and hell; but, in order to get to Paradise, one must have
nothing wherewith to reproach himself. Now, although my brother was a

Online LibraryMrs. James SadlierPurgatory → online text (page 12 of 35)