Saint Frances of Rome and Purgatory
St. Frances is led to the deepest Dungeon of Purgatory
The Angel brought Frances to the lowest level of Purgatory, to a a cavern filled with a roaring fire, its red-hot flames cutting through the black smoke that darkened the cave. But as horrible as it was, Frances said it was not as hot as in Hell. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could see bodies being plunged into what appeared to be a cauldron of raging fire, its flames enveloping them, pulling them down. She was told that these were souls who had been guilty of committing serious sins, had confessed and were absolved of their sins by a priest, but had not satisfied the wrong done by their act against God.
In this vision, she was told that for each mortal sin committed and forgiven, a payment of seven years of reparation in Purgatory was necessary to erase it from the soul. Since the damage done by each mortal sin affects the world differently, some more deadly and lasting, the length of time and punishment differs. The type of pain and suffering measured out to each of these souls, was in proportion to the type of sin, the damage done by the sins, and the number of wounds inflicted on our Lord’s Sacred Heart by these sins.
In this level, she found the Poor Souls of the Laity and Religious, alike. Those of the Laity were souls who had led a life of sin, and converted toward the end of their lives. Conversion to the Lord and His Church is God’s gift to us, as only the Holy Spirit can convert men’s hearts. As they had not paid their debt on earth, they had to clear the invoice due the Lord here in Purgatory.
The Souls of the Religious were those who had not kept the vows they had professed. No sooner had this been explained to her than St. Frances saw the soul of a priest who was very well known. He had a covering on his face, to try to hide the ugly blemish that had remained. Now, this priest had led a truly priestly life, faithfully administering the Sacraments and pastoring his flock. His only sin had been an intemperate need to gouge himself at mealtime, seeking his reward from God’s creation rather than God alone.
The Angel then led Frances to the Intermediate Dungeon
This region was reserved for those souls who had not sinned as seriously as those of the lowest dungeon, nor caused irreparable damage by their transgressions. As their souls were not free from the ugly blemishes that are a result of sin, they were required to spend time in Purgatory; but because of God’s Justice they did not need to spend time suffering the intense punishment of souls in the dungeons below. This dungeon had three compartments:
(1) The first was a cavern of ice, sharp icicles threatening the souls below. It was incredibly cold in here. She could see the poor souls trying to warm themselves to no avail, as ice seemed to be hemming them in, closing in on them, surrounding them; the walls, the floor, the ceiling, nowhere to get away from the endless freezing cold!
(2) Next, there was an underground prison of boiling oil and pitch. The sickening odor of burning flesh filled the area. She could see the Poor Souls, covered with black pitch, writhing in pain. No matter what they did, they could not escape the boiling petroleum nor the sticky hot, black mess which clung to them.
(3) In the third and last level she saw Souls struggling not to drown in what appeared to be a pool filled with liquefied ore, resembling melted gold and silver. Had these Souls attached too much importance to the rewards of the world, counting the Graces from the Lord as nothing in comparison?
The Saint visits the Upper Dungeon
Our Saint does not go into detail on this level of atonement, only that this is the place where the Poor Souls condemned themselves, upon seeing that one time before the Lord, how they had transgressed against Him. The more we study about Purgatory, the more I find myself asking the question, “Am I offending You, my Lord?” This is not so much from the viewpoint of suffering in Purgatory (my foremost desire being Heaven), but the thought of Jesus and how He will look, as my unrequited sins pass before me, the many times I failed to put Him first, the missed opportunities to love Him by loving my brothers and sisters. Oh my Lord, how my heart breaks thinking I may have offended you!
The Souls in this dungeon have the anguish which the Poor Souls in Purgatory say is the most painful, the absence of the Beatific Vision. Can you imagine knowing that your loved one is somewhere but you cannot see him or her? Multiply that by a million-fold and you get a small idea of how it must be for those who, having seen Jesus that one time, can no longer see Him. Oh, Lord, how we long to see Your Face! The consolation of being in this place is that this is the last place before being united with Jesus, Mary and the whole Celestial Family; they know they are on their way.
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