Hell, Poor Souls in Purgatory

St.Veronica Giuliani Saves a Sister from Hell and Sees a Vision of Purgatory

Saint Veronica recieved an extra Gurdian Angel from Jesus after being continuously attacked by the devil. Her angels accompanied her on her visits to hell. God revealed to Veronica that upon the election of a new Pope, Heaven appoints to him an additional ten guardian angels to assist him. At one point in Saint Veronica’s Life, she took great care of her fellow Sister, Sister Angelica Berioli during her last illness. According to the accounts of the convent, Sister Angelica was not very observant of the rules and had always been Veronica’s adversary. However, Veronica offered many prayers and penances for the salvation her soul and prayed at her bedside day and night saying, “My Lord, Your Most Precious Blood and Your infinite merits can obtain this grace.”

One day, when Sister Angelica was still semiconscious, Veronica told her: “Before I go, I want you to tell me something, and I want you to call on Jesus and not on the devil as you do.” Sister Angelica listened to her and promised she would do it and asked Veronica not to abandon her. After this incident, Sister Angelica lost the use of reason for the most part and only once in a while would be heard saying the name of Jesus. The devil was not happy that Veronica was taking this soul from him and tried to prevent her many times from praying. Saint Veronica wrote “On two occasions the devil gave me many blows and told me I would pay for this. One night while I was watching over this sister, he appeared under the form of a cat, and he wanted to jump unto her bed. I tried to shoo him away, and he came close to me as when he tried to jump on me, more and more I would visibly see the demons here around her bed and they would threaten to make me pay for this.”

On the evening that Sister Angelica died, June 21, 1701, Veronica saw how four demons were tempting the dying sister, telling her there was no hope for her. Veronica was made to understand; however, that the demons had lost. When she realized that Sister Angelica was about to die, Veronica asked permission to her Confessor to visit the Blessed Sacrament. On her way to the Chapel, the devil appeared to her under the form of a cat and jumped on her. She had to fight the cat off up to the door of the chapel, whereupon he disappeared, saying, “You won, but you will pay for it.” After Veronica prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, she understood that she needed to go back to Sister Angelica who would soon expire, and it did happen that way. Then, the Lord let her know that Sister Angelica had been saved but that she would be in Purgatory for a long time and showed Veronica the place of expiation. Veronica commented, “A very dark and scary place.” Then, Veronica had a vision of this soul who had turned into “a terrifying animal.”

Sister Angelica appeared to Veronica the following night and told her: “This is not diabolical. It is true that I suffer. If you understood my suffering, you would die of pain.”

On another occasion, Veronica saw the place where she was in purgatory: “I saw a place so terrible and full of torment that I thought it was hell. I can’t explain it in writing but it struck me with fear and terror. It seemed to me that I saw all sorts of tortures that tormented many souls at the same time. One soul, among the others, suffered more than the others and I seem to understand that it was this soul (Sister Angelica).”

Veronica understood, however, that this soul could not benefit from the prayers said for her because during her life she had not prayed for the requests of others. The penances and prayers that Veronica was offering for this soul were being applied to other souls in purgatory. The second time that this soul appeared to Veronica, she told her, “I can’t and I shouldn’t” Veronica understood that ‘can’t’ referred to ‘what she was suffering’ and ‘shouldn’t referred to ‘why she was suffering’. But then the soul of Angelica said, “It is up to you to get me out of this great suffering. I will not forget (your help).”

Even though the Lord made Veronica understand that this soul should have remained in purgatory until the Final Judgement, He also was willing to accept for Love of Veronica, sacrifices for this soul. Veronica suffered greatly and even experienced her own personal judgment in atonement for this soul, which she was finally able to release from purgatory. Sister Angelica was only one of many souls that Veronica got out of purgatory by taking upon herself the expiation they required to enter into Heaven, often telling these souls, “Go on to Heaven, I will remain here in order to atone for your sins.” In expiation, she had even suffered her own final judgement, and to inflame her with a desire for the salvation of souls God had allowed her to see, hell and also purgatory. She often visited purgatory: “I spent tonight as usual in Purgatory, in the midst of fire and ice, sorrows and sufferings, in complete abandonment and without any one’s help. May the Will of God be praised.”

It seems that her confessors abused her charity by making her expiate for many souls. Among the souls she atoned for are the soul of her father, Francesco Giuliani, Pope Clement XI, some of her confessors and many sisters such as sister Angelica.

Hell, Miracles of Our Lady

How a Man Was Saved From Hell by the Stabat Mater

Saved from Hell by the Prayer: Stabat Mater

In his book Glories of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori relates an impressive story about the power of one of the most beautiful prayers ever written, the Stabat Mater, a prayer to the Sorrowful Mother.

In the city of Cesena, in beautiful Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy, there were two men who were great friends. They were also great sinners, leading a life far from the precepts of the Gospel and the Ten Commandments.

One of them, Bartholomew, despite his wickedness, had acquired (probably when younger), the habit of daily reciting the Stabat Mater in honor of Mary’s sorrows.

One day, as he recited this prayer, he suddenly had a vision in which he and his friend were immersed in a lake of fire. Then, he saw the Blessed Mother, who, taking him by the hand, pulled him out of the fiery pit saying: “Because of the prayer you said daily to me, I have prayed to my Son for you. He is ready to forgive you, if you are ready to ask pardon of Him.”

Then the vision vanished.

Soon after, Bartholomew received the dire news that his friend had been shot and killed. He now had no doubt that what he had seen was true.

Leaving the world and all its temptations behind, Bartholomew entered the order of Capuchins, led a life of austerity and virtue and died a saint.

The Stabat Mater

At the cross Her station keeping

stood the mournful Mother weeping,

close to Jesus to the last.

Through Her Heart, His sorrow sharing,

all His bitter anguish bearing

now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed

was that Mother highly blessed,

of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,

She beneath beholds the pangs

of Her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,

whelmed in miseries so deep,

Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain

from partaking in Her pain,

in that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,

She beheld Her tender Child

all with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,

saw Him hang in desolation,

till His spirit forth He sent.

O sweet Mother! fount of love!

Touch my spirit from above,

make my heart with Thine accord.

Make me feel as Thou hast felt;

make my soul to glow and melt

with the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,

in my heart each wound renew

of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with Thee His pain,

who for all our sins was slain,

who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with Thee,

mourning Him who mourned for me,

all the days that I may live.

By the Cross with Thee to stay,

there with Thee to weep and pray,

is all I ask of Thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,

Listen to my fond request:

let me share Thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,

in my body bear the death

of that dying Son of Thine.

Wounded with His every wound,

steep my soul till it hath swooned,

in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,

lest in flames I burn and die,

in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,

be Thy Mother my defense,

be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,

may my soul Thy goodness praise,

safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.

Hell, spiritual warfare, Stories of the Supernatural

St.Teresa of Avila’s Visions of Souls in Mortal Sin

St.Teresa of Avila’s Visions of Souls in Mortal Sin

Volume 1 of The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Chapter 38, parts 23 & 24 & 25:

“Once, while approaching to receive Communion, I saw with my soul’s eyes more clearly than with my bodily eyes two devils whose appearance was abominable. It seems to me their horns were wrapped around the poor priests’s throat, and in the host that was going to be given to me I saw my Lord with the majesty I mentioned placed in the priest’s hands, which were clearly seen to be His offender’s; and I understood that that soul was in mortal sin. What would it be my Lord, to see Your beauty in the midst of such abominable figures? They were as though frightened and terrified in Your presence, for it seems they would have very eagerly fled had You allowed them. This vision caused me such great disturbance I don’t know how I was able to receive Communion, and I was left with a great fear, thinking that if the vision had been from God, His Majesty would not have permitted me to see the evil that was in that soul. The Lord Himself told me to pray for him and that He had permitted it so that I might understand the power of the words of consecration and how God does not fail to be present, however evil the priest who recites them, and that I might see His great goodness since He places Himself in those hands of His enemy, and all out of love for me and for everyone. I understood well how much more priests are obliged to be good than are others, how deplorable a thing it is to receive this most Blessed Sacrament unworthily, and how much the devil is lord over the soul in mortal sin. It did me a great deal of good and brought me deep understanding of what I owed God. May He be blessed forever and ever.”

“At another time something else happened to me that frightened me very much. I was at a place where a certain person died who for many years had lived a wicked life, from what I knew. But he had been sick for two years, and in some things it seems he had made amends. He died without confession, but nevertheless it didn’t seem to me he would be condemned. While the body was being wrapped in its shroud, I saw many devils take that body; and it seemed they were playing with it and punishing it. This terrified me, for with large hooks they were dragging it from one devil to the other. Since I saw it buried with the honor and ceremonies accorded to all, I reflected on the goodness of God, how He did not want that soul to be defamed, but wanted the fact that it was His enemy to be concealed.

I was half stupefied from what I had seen. During the whole ceremony I didn’t see another devil. Afterward when they put the body in the grave, there was such a multitude of them inside ready to take it that I was frantic at the sight of it, and there was need for no small amount of courage to conceal this. I reflected on what they would do to the soul when they had such dominion over the unfortunate body. May it please the Lord that what I have seen -a thing so frightful!-will be seen by all those who are in such an evil state; I think it would prove a powerful help toward their living a good life. All of this gives me greater knowledge of what I owe God and of what He freed me from. I was very frightened until I spoke about it to my confessor, wondering if it was an illusion caused by the devil to defame that soul. Although it wasn’t considered to be the soul of someone with a very deep Christian spirit. Truly since the vision was not an illusion, it frightens me every time I think of it.”

The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 1, Chapter 31,

A person came to me who had been in mortal sin for two and a half years. It was one of the most abominable I’ve heard of, and in all this time he hadn’t confessed or made amends; and he was saying Mass. Although he was confessing other sins, of this one he asked how he could confess something so ugly. He had a great desire to give it up, but he wasn’t able to help himself. He made me feel great pity, and my seeing that he offended God in such a way caused me deep sorrow. I promised him I would beg God very much to liberate him and that I would beg God very much to liberate him and that I would get others better than myself to do the same, and I wrote to him through a certain person he told me I could give the letters to. And so it happened that after receiving the first letter he went to confession. For God desired (through the many very holy persons to whose prayers I recommended him) to grant this soul that mercy; and I, although miserable, did what I could with great care. He wrote to me that he was so much better that for days he had not fallen into the sin, but that the torment the temptation gave him was so intense it seemed from what he suffered he was in hell; he asked me to commend him to God. I in turn recommended him to my sisters through whose prayers the Lord must have granted me this favor, for they took the matter very much to heart. No one could guess who the person was. I begged His Majesty to mitigate those torments and temptations and that those devils would come to afflict me, provided that I would not offend the Lord in anything. As a result, for a month I suffered severe torments; it was during this time that these two things I mentioned happened.

The Lord was pleased that they leave him; this he wrote to me, for I told hm what I was going through during that month. His soul was fortified, and he was left completely free. He didn’t have enough of thanking God and me as though I had done anything. But the reputation I had from the fact that the Lord granted me favors benefitted him. He said that when he found himself very distressed he read my letters, and the temptation left him. He was very impressed by what I had suffered and how he had been freed. Even I was amazed, and I would have suffered many more years to see that soul free. May the Lord be praised for everything, for the prayer of those who serve Him (as I believe do these sisters in this house) can do much. But since I sought these prayers, the devils must have been more angry with me; and the Lord on account of my sins permitted this.

Also one night during this time I thought they were choking me; after much holy water had been sprinkled around, I saw a great multitude of them go by, as though they were being thrown down a precipice. There are so many times that these cursed creatures torment me, and so little is the fear I now have of them, seeing that they cannot stir unless the Lord allows them, that I would tire your Reverence and tire myself if I told about all these instances.

May what was said be of help that the true servant of God might pay no attention to the scarecrows the devils set up in order to cause fear. We should know that each time we pay no attention to them they are weakened and the soul gains much more mastery. Some great benefit always remains, which I won’t go into so as not to enlarge. I shall only mention what happened to me on the night of All Souls: while I was in the oratory after having recited a nocturn and while saying some very devotional prayers that come at the end, a devil appeared on the book so that I couldn’t finish the prayer. I blessed myself, and he went away. When I began again to recite the prayers, he returned. I believe it was three times I began, and until I threw holy water at him I couldn’t finish. I saw that some souls left purgatory at that instant; little must have been lacking to their freedom, and I wondered if he had aimed at preventing this.

A few times I’ve seen him in physical form, but many times with no physical form-as for instance in the vision mentioned above in which without seeing any form one knows he is there.

I also want to tell the following because it frightened me a lot: one day on the feast of the Trinity, being in the choir of a certain monastery and in rapture, I saw a great battle of devils against angels. I couldn’t understand what that vision meant. In less than fifteen days it became easily understandable on account of a certain conflict that arose between people of prayer and many who were not, and a lot of harm was done in the house in which it took place. It was a battle that lasted a long time and caused much disquiet.

At other times I saw a large multitude of devils around me, and it seemed that a great brightness encircled me, and this prevented them from reaching me. I understood that God was watching over me so that they could not get to me in order to make me offend Him. From what I sometimes saw in myself, I understood that it was a true vision. The fact is that now I have understood so well the little bit of power he has provided I’m not against God, that I have almost no fear . The powers of devils are nothing if these devils do not find souls cowardly and surrendered to them: it is with such souls that they show their power. Sometime, in the temptations I already mentioned, it seemed to me that all the vanities and weaknesses of the past were again awakening within me; I had really to commend myself to God. At once the torment came of thinking that since those thoughts arose in me the favors I experienced must all be from the devil. It seemed to me that there shouldn’t have been even the first stirrings of a bad thought in one who was receiving so many favors from the Lord. But then my confessor put me at peace.

Hell, Preparation For Death

St.Teresa of Avila Sees the Place Prepared for her in Hell

A room the devil had prepared for me – St Theresa of Avila

A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it.
The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated. 
“But as to what I then felt, I do not know where to begin if I were to describe it; it is utterly inexplicable. I felt a fire in my soul but such that I am still unable to describe it. My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life, and, as the physicians say, the greatest that can be borne, such as the contraction of my sinews when I was paralyzed, without speaking of other ills of different types – yet, even those of which I have spoken, inflicted on me by Satan; yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I then felt, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission nor any end to them. 
These sufferings were nothing in comparison with the anguish of my soul, a sense of oppression, of stifling, and of pain so acute, accompanied by so hopeless and cruel an infliction, that I know not how to speak of it. If I say that the soul is continually being torn from the body it would be nothing – for that implies the destruction of life by the hands of another – but here it is the soul itself that is tearing itself in pieces. I cannot describe that inward fire or that despair, surpassing all torments and all pain. I did not see who it was that tormented me, but I felt myself on fire, and torn to pieces, as it seemed to me; and I repeat it, this inward fire and despair are the greatest torments of all. 
“Left in that pestilential place, and utterly without the power to hope for comfort, I could neither sit nor lie down; there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness. I do not understand how it is; though there was no light, yet everything that can give pain by being seen was visible. 
“Our Lord at that time would not let me see more of Hell. Afterwards I had another most fearful vision, in which I saw the punishment of certain sins. They were the most horrible to look at, but because I felt none of the pain, my terror was not so great. In the former vision Our Lord made me really feel those torments and that anguish of spirit, just as if I had been suffering them in the body there. I know not how it was, but I understood distinctly that it was a great mercy that Our Lord would have me see with my own eyes the very place from which His compassion saved me. I have listened to people speaking of these things and I have at other times dwelt on the various torments of Hell, though not often, because my soul made no progress by the way of fear; and I have read of the diverse tortures, and how the devils tear the flesh with red-hot pincers. But all is as nothing before this: It is a wholly different matter. In short, the one is a reality, the other a description; and all burning here in this life is as nothing compared with the fire that is there. 
I was so terrified by that vision – and that terror is on me even now as I write – that though it took place nearly six years ago, the natural warmth of my body is chilled by fear even now when I think of it. And so, amid all the pain and suffering which I may have had to bear, I remember no time in which I do not think that all we have to suffer in this world is as nothing. It seems to me that we complain without reason. I repeat it, this vision was one of the grandest mercies of God. It has been to me of the greatest service, because it has destroyed my fear of trouble and of the contradictions of the world, and because it has made me strong enough to bear up against them, and to give thanks to Our Lord who has been my Deliverer, as it now seems to me, from such fearful and everlasting pains. 
“Ever since that time, as I was saying, everything seems endurable in comparison with one instant of suffering such as those I had then to bear in Hell. I am filled with fear when I see that, after frequently reading books which describe in some manner the pains of Hell, I was not afraid of them, nor made any account of them. Where was I? How could I possibly take any pleasure in those things which led me directly to so dreadful a place? Blessed forever be Thou, O my God! And oh, how manifest is it that Thou didst love me much more than I did love Thee! How often, O Lord, didst Thou save me from that fearful prison! And how I used to get back to it contrary to Thy will. 
“It was that vision which filled me with very great distress which I felt at the sight of so many lost souls, especially of the Lutherans – for they were once members of the Church by Baptism – and also gave me the most vehement desires for the salvation of souls; for certainly I believe that to save even one from those overwhelming torments, I would willingly endure many deaths. If here on earth we see one whom we specially love in great trouble or pain, our very nature seems to bid us compassionate him; and if those pains be great, we are troubled ourselves. What, then, must it be to see a soul in danger of pain, the most grievous of all pains, forever? It is a thought no heart can bear without great anguish. Here we know that pain at last ends with life, and that there are limits to it, yet the sight of it moves us so greatly to compassion; that other pain has no ending, and I know not how we can be calm when we see Satan carry so many souls daily away. 
“This also makes me wish that, in a matter which concerns us so much, we did not rest satisfied with doing less than we can do on our part – that we left nothing undone. May Our Lord vouchsafe to give us His grace for that end.”