The Power of Praying for Others 


The Devil ‘ s Rage Over St Gemma Galgani Prayers for Others

The Devil once said to St Gemma Galgani “You can pray for yourself, but if you pray for others, I will make you pay dearly for it”. And on another occasion the devil said to this great Saint, “While acting for yourself, do as you please, but listen well, do nothing for the conversion of sinners; if you attempt it, I shall make you pay dearly for it.” The devil appeared to affirm for St Gemma Galgani that our Prayers for other are seemingly more fruitful then when we Pray for our wants when he tried a new tactic to get St. Gemma to consider her own soul rather than only others when he exclaimed “How and where comes such presumption? You are laden with sins, and all the years of thy life would not suffice to bewail and expiate them, and yet you lose time about the sins of others? Do you not see that your own soul is in danger? A strange gain, that of think­ing for others and neglecting thyself.” Through all this she was brutally beaten and never stopped praying for others letting herself be a victim for the human race as her Lord and Savior did on His Cross know that no servant Is greater than their Master. The devil seemed to be in a personal war with St. Gemma Galgani who at one point during one of his attacks started horribly cursing God and shouting “War! War against you and your spiritual director!”. This continued on a nightly bases with the devil mocking her and her prayers for others in the chance she would give up praying for others and which she took with the true patience of a saint. The devil caused her the most pains by blaspheming her True Love Jesus Christ continuously even one day he telling her “What are you doing” he said, “how stupid you are to pray to that malefactor. Look at the harm He does thee, keeping thee nailed to the Cross with Himself. How then can you care for Him, for Him whom you don’t even know, who makes all who love Him suffer? Through all these continued promises of earthly happiness and even acknowledging t her she may pray for herself just not others she persevered the devils attacks and eventually winning a great victory for mankind and guaranteed herself an exalted place in Heaven along with all Christ Saints.

The devils to Padre Pio: “You bother us more than Saint Michael.” “If you don’t snatch souls from us we will not bother you.”

What souls we can convert by our prayers. The one who saves a soul from hell saves this soul and his own as well.’ ~St. John Vianney 

St.Gemma pleads for the conversion of a sinner 

St Gemma pleads with God for the conversion of a sinner—-A sinners miraculous return to God with the help of the Blessed Mother and the intercession of St Gemma


…I will not rise from here. Save him. Promise me that You will save him. I offer myself victim for all, but particularly for him….

The miraculous conversion that occured the day Father Germanus meets Gemma for the first time.

Monsignor Giovanni Volpi, Gemma’s confessor since childhood, knew of the reputation of Passionist Father Germanus Ruoppolo CP, for being not only an expert in Mystical Theology, but also his reputation for holiness. He wished to share his responsibility and judgement of the extraordinary things that were beginning to happen to Gemma, so he prevailed upon Father Germanus’ Provencial to order Father Germanus to examine his penitent (Gemma). Father Germanus was not interested in meeting Gemma, and upon hearing from Monsignor Volpi of some of the extraordinary things that were happening to her, he suggested (to his later embarrassment) that Monsignor Volpi perform an exorcism upon Gemma! However, at the insistence of Monsignor Volpi, Father Germanus was ordered by his Provencal to examine Gemma, so in September, 1900, Father Germanus reluctantly went to meet Gemma at the home of her “adopted” family, the Giannini’s.


Father Germanus writes- “I went there on the 1st of September, 1900, and I stayed with the Giannini family, with whom Gemma was living. Upon seeing me, the dear child recognized me at once (Gemma was shown him previously in a vision, so she “knew” him even before meeting him- editor), and coming forward to welcome me with great joy, she thanked and blessed the Lord in her soul……”
“My feelings on that occasion, still vivid in my memory, baffle explanation. Our Lord was certainly preparing me to see great things by which every shadow of a doubt remaining in my mind should be dispelled. It happened to be a Thursday, at about the middle of supper, Gemma, feeling signs of a coming ecstasy, rose from the table and left the room. After a little while, her adopted mother (Cecilia Giannini –ed.) came to call me. I followed her and found Gemma in ecstasy.”


Gemma pleads with God for the conversion of a sinner

The subject of the ecstacy was the conversion of a sinner, and the form was a wrestling between Gemma and the Divine Justice to obtain this conversion. I confess that I have never beheld anything more affecting. The dear child was sitting on her bed, with her eyes, face and all her person turned towards the part of the room where Our Lord appeared to her. She was not agitated, but earnest and resolute, like one in a struggle who is determined to win at any cost.
She began by saying, “Now that You have come, Jesus, I renew my supplications for my sinner. He is Thy child and my brother; save him, Jesus”; and she named him. He was a stranger whom she had met in Lucca, and moved by spiritual impulse, she had already warned him by word of mouth, and by letter to listen to the dictates of his conscience, and not be contented with the mere public reputation of being a good Christian.


Jesus seeming disposed to deal as a just Judge with this man, remained unmoved by the entreaties of His servant. But she, not deterred, rejoined: “Why today, 0 Jesus, do You not hear me? For one soul only You have done so much! (meaning herself -editor) Why then will You not save this other one? Save him, Jesus, save him. Be good, Jesus. Do not say that to me. In Thy mouth, Who art Mercy itself, that word ‘abandon’ sounds bad. You must not say it. You have not measured the Blood that You have shed for sinners, and now do You wish to measure the enormity of our sins? Do You not listen to me? And I, to whom must I turn? You have shed Thy Blood for him as well as for me. Will You save me and not him? I will not rise from here. Save him. Promise me that You will save him. I offer myself victim for all, but particularly for him. I promise not to refuse Thee anything. Will You grant it to me? It is a soul. Remember, 0 Jesus, it is a soul that has cost Thee so much. He will become good and not relapse.”

In answer to all her entreaties, Our Lord put forward the Di­vine Justice. But she, growing still more fervent, replied: “I am not seeking Thy Justice. I am imploring Thy Mercy. Then Jesus, go in search of that poor sinner; press him to Thy Heart and You will see that he will be converted. At least try it … Listen, Jesus, You say that You have made many forcible attempts to con­vince him, but You have not yet called him ‘son.’ Try that now, and tell him that You are his Father and that he is Thy child. You will find that on hearing this sweet name of ‘Father,’ his hardened heart will soften.” And here Our Lord, to prove to Gemma what reason He had for remaining firm, began to show her one by one, with the most minute circumstances of time and place, the evil deeds of that sinner, adding that he had filled up their mea­sure. The poor child showed her dismay. She let her hands fall and heaved a deep sigh, as if she had almost lost the hope of suc­ceeding. But quickly recovering from the shock, she returned to the attack.


“I know, Jesus,” she said, “I know it, that he has offended Thee thus grievously. But I have done worse and, for all that, You have shown me Mercy. I know, I know, 0 Jesus, that he has made Thee weep. But now, Jesus-You must not think of his sins. You must think of the Blood You have shed. What immense Charity, o Jesus, have You not lavished on me! Use with my sinner, I implore of Thee, all those delicacies of Infinite Love that You have used toward me. Remember, Jesus, that I want his salvation. Triumph, triumph, I ask for him of You in Charity.”

In spite of all these efforts, Our Lord remained inflexible, and Gemma again relapsed into anguish and discouragement, remain­ing silent, as if she had abandoned the strife. Then, all of a sud­den, another motive flashed to her mind that seemed invincible against all resistance. She became all animated and spoke thus:


“Well, I am a sinner. You Yourself have told me so, and that a person worse than me You could not find. Yes, I confess it, I am the worst sinner, and I am unworthy that You should listen to me. But look, I present Thee another advocate for my sinner; it is Thine own Mother who asks You to forgive him. See! Oh, imagine saying no to Thy Mother! Surely You cannot now say no to Her. And now answer me, Jesus, tell me me that You will save my sinner.”

The victory was gained, the whole scene changed aspect, the tenderhearted Saviour had granted the grace, and Gemma, with a look of indescribable joy, exclaimed: “He is saved, he is saved! Thou hast conquered, Jesus; triumph always thus.” And then she came out of the ecstasy.

This most affecting scene lasted quite half an hour. The words in which I have described it were in part taken down in writing, and in part preserved in my memory, from which I have faithfully drawn them. When it was over, having withdrawn to my room, with my mind engrossed by a thousand thoughts, I suddenly heard a tap at my door. “A strange gentleman, Father, has called and wishes to see you.”I bade him come in. He threw himself at my feet sobbing and said: “Father, hear my Confession.” Good God! I thought my heart would burst. It was Gemma’s sinner, converted that same hour. He accused himself of all that I had heard repeated by her in the ecstasy. He had forgotten one thing only, and I was able to remind him of it. I consoled him, told him what had just hap­pened, got his leave to narrate these wonders of the Lord, and after a mutual embrace we parted. Some years have passed since that event, and I still seem to find myself present at it. In my copi­ous notes I have particulars of other conversions similar in many ways to that just described and equally well authenticated. For the sake of brevity and to avoid uncalled for repetition, I have not given them here.

The fact narrated speaks for itself. There is no place for imagination or hysteria here. The devil is able to drag sinners to perdi­tion, but not to convert them, much less in such a way as we have seen.


Notwithstanding my admiration at what I had witnessed, I did not stop there. I began my studies with great earnestness in order to make certain of Gemma’s spirit. These studies lasted nearly three years without interruption. Guided by ascetic and mystical theology and by modern physiological science, I put her through lengthened trials so as to be able to say at last that I had not neglected any such steps, and it is worth observing that not one of them failed. The pious Bishop, her confessor, in his turn was satisfied. He approved of all that I had done and expressed his desire that I should take up the direction of Gemma. She, who more than anyone else feared being the victim of delusion, seemed to rise from death to life on learning my final assurance that what was happening to her was from God and that she could freely allow herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit in that way. ”

The information in this article is from “The Life of St Gemma Galgani” by Venerable Father Germanus CP

St.Gemma Galgani and the souls in purgatory 

St Gemma intercedes for the souls in Purgatory

“….Mention must also be made of the zeal of this child of Heaven in the aid of the suffering souls in Purgatory. If love when it is true has no bounds, certainly hers that had reached the summit of per­fection must have been unlimited. Her zeal for the poor suffering souls was indeed extraordinary. She often offered fervent prayers, together with penances and her immense spiritual and corporal sufferings, for all of the souls in Purgatory in general. At the same time, just as was her way with sinners, she always had some particular soul on her mind for whose relief she was especially interested. “Yes, suffer!” she used to say, “suffer for sinners, and even more so for the suffering Souls, and in a particular way for N … ” (whom she named). And our loving Lord, who likewise ardently desires to draw those holy souls to Himself, moved His servant to an increase of zeal and continually suggested to her new modes of expiation. “The Angel has told me,” she said, “that this evening Jesus will let me suffer a little more for a soul in Purgatory, that is, for two hours beginning at nine o’clock.” That suffering was very great, as she herself confessed: “My head pained me more than usual, and every movement I made was torture.” Heaven accepted the expiation of so worthy a creature, and the pains of those blessed Souls from day to day grew less and their suffering was shortened.


Gemma knew by Divine inspiration that in the Convent of Passionist Nuns at Corneto [Italy] there was a Religious Sister very dear to God who was near death. She asked me about it, and on my answering that it was so, she at once began to implore of Jesus to make that particular Reli­gious expiate all her faults on her deathbed, so that breathing her last she might enter Paradise at once. Her prayer, at least in part, was heard. The Sister suffered greatly and died in a few months. Gemma told those in her home of it in order that they might pray for the deceased, and she gave her name, Mary Teresa of the Infant Jesus, as she was not known in Lucca. After her death, this soul appeared to her full of sorrow, imploring her help as she was undergoing great torments in Purgatory for certain defects.

Nothing more was needed to set all the fibers of Gemma’s heart in motion. From that moment she gave herself no rest; -prayers, tears and loving petitions to Our Lord.

“Jesus, save her,” she was overheard to exclaim. “Jesus, take Mary Teresa to Paradise without delay. She is a soul that is most dear to Thee. Let me suffer much for her; I want her to be in heaven.”

During this time Gemma writes the following in her Diary:

“It was around 9:30 and I was reading; all of a sudden I am shaken by a hand resting gently on my left shoulder. I turn in fright; I was afraid and tried to call out, but I was held back. I turned and saw a person dressed in white; I recognized it was a woman; I looked and her expression assured me I had nothing to fear: “Gemma,” she said after some moments, “do you know me?” I said no, because that was the truth; she responded: “I am Mother Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus: I thank you so, so much for the great con­cern you have shown me because soon I shall be able to attain my eternal happiness.”All this happened while I was awake and fully aware of myself. Then she added: “Continue still, because I still have a few days of suf­fering.” And in so saying she caressed me and then went away. Her countenance, I must say, inspired much confidence in me. From that hour I redoubled my prayers for her soul, so that soon she should reach her objective; but my prayers are too weak; how I wish that for the souls in Pur­gatory my prayers should have the strength of the saints’.”

And the dear victim of expiation suffered without ceasing for sixteen days, at the end of which God was pleased to accept her sacrifice and to release that soul. This is how Gemma herself told me of it:

“Toward half-past one it seemed to me that the Blessed Mother herself came to tell me that the hour was drawing nigh. Then almost immediately I thought I saw Mary Teresa coming toward me clad as a Passionist, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and by Jesus. Oh, how she was changed since the day I first saw her! Smiling, she drew close to me and said: “I am truly happy, and I go to enjoy my Jesus for ever.” She thanked me again. Then she made sign of bidding me good-bye with her hand, several times, and with Jesus and her Guardian Angel she flew to Heaven. It was about half-past two o’clock in the morning.”

God converted the world through the labors of twelve poor fishermen. And now He continues to save many through the secret tears, penances and pains of humble souls who are dis­carded by the world, and yet are great in His eyes. One of them assuredly was this saintly Virgin of Lucca.”

“My God, open Your heart to me. Oh Jesus, open to me Thy sacramental breast, because I wish to place all my affections there. Oh Jesus, how much I love You! But why do You treat me so lovingly, while I offend You with such countless ingratitudes? This thought alone, if I could but comprehend it, should be enough to turn me into a furnace of love.”

–St Gemma Galgani

St.Gemma Galgani’s battles with the devil 


“….And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a Angel of Satan to beat me, to keep me from being too exalted.” 2 Corinthians 12:7
God, in order to purify His elect and render them victims of expiation for themselves and for others, makes use even of the demons, who because of their hatred of souls and their increased intelligence become very profitable instruments to the attainment of His ends.

Thus our Lord, when He made known to our holy founder, St Paul of the Cross (founder of the Passionists –editor) that He willed to raise Him to a high degree of sanctity, spoke thus “I will have thee trampled underfoot by the devils”.

And, in like manner, Jesus said to His servant Gemma: “Be prepared My child. The Devil, at my bidding, will be the one who, by the war he will rage against you, will give the last touch to the work that I will accomplish in you.”


In a early letter to Father Germano, Gemma writes:

“During the last two days Jesus has been telling me after Holy Communion: ‘My daughter, the devil will soon wage a great war against you.’ These words I hear in my heart continuously. Please pray for me …. Who will win this battle: the devil or my soul? How sad this thing makes me! Where will the war come from? I am for ever thinking about it instead of praying Jesus to give me strength and help. Now I have told you, and I leave this matter to you, that you may help me.

Your poor,

Gemma” 


Gemma soon learned that the best way to defend herself against the demons and to reach God’s ends is through prayer, which she practiced with all the ardor of her soul. What then did not the enemy do to prevent it? To weary her he would try to upset her temperament; he caused her violent headaches so that she might be obliged to go to bed, rather than remain in prayer and strove in numerous other ways to distract her from this holy exercise. “Oh” she once said to me “What torment this gives me, not to be able to pray! What fatigue it costs me! How many efforts does not that wretch make to make it impossible for me to pray! Yesterday evening he tried to kill me, and would have succeeded if Jesus had not come quickly to my aid. I was terrified and kept the image of Jesus in my mind, but I could not pronounce His name.”
At other times, he attacked her differently “What are you doing” he said, blaspheming, “how stupid you are to pray to that malefactor. Look at the harm He does thee, keeping thee nailed to the Cross with Himself. How then can you care for Him, for Him whom you don’t even know, who makes all who love Him suffer?” But these and all his other evil suggestions were as dust before the wind, and only served to afflict her at hearing her Jesus outraged by such blasphemies.


In the midst of so much suffering, the servant of God found comfort in the direction and advice of her spiritual director (the author of these lines -editor). This the wicked enemy could not bear, and tried to turn her away from her spiritual guide. He depicted her director as an ignorant, fanatical, deluded man and with so many arguments strove to convince and terrify her that the poor child thought herself all but lost. Hence on one occasion she wrote “For some days, Chiappino* (a name she called the devil) has pursued me in every guise and way, and has done all in his power against me. This monster keeps on redoubling all his efforts to ruin me and tries to deprive me of whomever directs or advises me. But even should this happen, I am not afraid” (notice her virtue of detachment). Seeing that with all his efforts he could not succeed in shaking her confidence in her director, he resorted to acts of violence, and, assaulting her while she persevered in writing, he snatched the pen from her hand and tore up the paper then dragged her from the table, seizing her by the hair with such violence that it came off in his brutal claws. Then withdrawing in fury he shouted “War, war against thy Father, (Venerable Germanus, the author of these lines –editor) war as long as he lives!” “Believe me Father” she said to me “to hear this despicable wretch one would say that his fury was against you more than against me”.

*(Gemma’s nickname for the devil was “Chiappino”, which is the equivalent of “burgular”. St John Vianney’s nickname for him was “Grappin”, which is the equivelent of “wrestler” -editor)


(Pictured above St.Gemma Galgani’s diary burned by the devil)

He carried this audacity so far as to feign to be a priest to whom Gemma used to make her confession. She had gone one day to Church, and while preparing herself to make her confession, she saw that the Priest was already in the confessional, at which she momentarily wondered, not having seen him pass and enter. At the same time she felt very much disturbed in spirit, as generally happened when in the presence of the evil one. She entered the confessional however, and began her confession as usual. The voice and ways were indeed those of the confessor, but his talk was foul and scandalous, accompanied by improper gestures. “My God” she exclaimed, “what has happened?” At such a sight and at such words the angelic child trembled, and her presence of mind returning, she hurriedly left the confessional, and saw as she did so that the pretended “confessor” had disappeared. It was the Devil, who by his coarse and fiendish ways had sought to deceive her, or at least make her lose all confidence in the minister of God.

Failing in this attempt, the enemy made another. He appeared to Gemma in the form of an angel, resplendent with light, insinuating himself with the most subtle cunning, so as to throw her off her guard. Then as with Eve in the Garden of Eden, he depicted things in the falsest colors “Look” he said “I can make thee happy if only you will swear to obey me”. Gemma, who this time did not feel in her soul the usual disturbance indicating the presence of the demon, stood listening in her simplicity. But God came to her aid. After the first wicked proposal, her eyes were opened. She stood up exclaiming “My God! Mary Immaculate!” Make me die rather!” and with these words she rushed to the feigned “angel” and spat in his face. At the same moment she saw him vanish in the form of fire.

Again Gemma writes “Once more I have passed a bad night. The demon came before me as a giant of great height and kept saying to me “For thee there is no more hope of salvation. Thou are in my hands!”. I replied that God is merciful and therefore I fear nothing. Then, giving me a hard blow on the head in a rage he said “accursed be you!” and then he disappeared. I then went to my room to rest, and there I found him. He began again to strike me with a knotted rope, and wanted me to listen to him while he suggested wickedness. I said no, and he struck me even harder, knocking my head violently against the ground. At a certain point, it came to my mind to invoke Jesus’ Father “Eternal Father, through the most precious blood of Jesus, free me!” I then don’t quite know what happened. That contemptable beast dragged me from my bed and threw me, hitting my head against the floor with such force that it pains me still. I became senseless and remained lying there until I came to myself a long time afterwards. Jesus be thanked!”


Another time Gemma writes “Today I thought I was to be entirely free from that nauseous animal, and instead he has knocked me about greatly. I had gone to bed with the full intention of sleeping, but it turned out otherwise. He began to beat me with such blows that I feared I would die. He was in the shape of a big black dog, and he put his “paws” on my shoulders, hurting me greatly. I felt it so much in all my bones that I thought that they were broken. Also, when I was taking holy water he wrenched my arm so violently that I fell to the floor from the pain. The bone was dislocated, but went back into place because Jesus touched it for me, and all was remedied”. Knowing her mission as soul victim, the Devil once said to her “You can pray for yourself, but if you pray for others, I will make you pay dearly for it”.

In her Diary Gemma writes:

“The devil, in the form of a great black dog, put his paws upon my shoulders, making every bone in my body ache. At times I believed that he would mangle me; then one time, when I was taking holy water, he twisted my arm so cruelly that I fell to the earth in great pain.After a while I remembered that I had around my neck the relic of the Holy Cross. Making the Sign of the Cross, I became calm. Jesus let me see Himself, but only for a short time, and He strengthened me anew to suffer and struggle.”

Another time in her Diary she writes:


“This evening I felt I could not collect myself; I said a few evening prayers and went to bed. To tell the truth, I foresaw a bit of a storm because Jesus had warned me a few days ago, saying: “The enemy will try you with one final battle, but it will be the last because now that is enough.” I could not help but thank Him for the strength He had always given me, and I prayed that He would want to give me strength for this final test as well, that is to say last night.I went to bed, as you know well, with the intention of sleeping; slumber was not long in coming when almost instantly a tiny, tiny man appeared, all covered in black hair. What a fright! He put his hands on my bed and I thought he wanted to hit me: “No, no,” he said, “I am not able to hit you, don’t be afraid,” and as he said this he lay down on the bed.I called Jesus to help me but he did not come, but this doesn’t mean he abandoned me. As soon as I called his name I felt liberated, but it was sudden.Other times I had called Jesus but He had never been ready like last night.You should have seen the demon afterward, how angry! He rolled around on the floor, cursing; he made one last effort to take away the cross I had with me but then he instantly fell backward. How good Jesus was with me last night. The devil, after that last effort, turned toward me and said that since he had not been able to do anything, he wished to torment me the rest of the night. “No,” I told him; I called my guardian Angel, who opened his wings and alighted next to me; he blessed me and the devil ran away. Jesus be thanked. This morning I learned that at the very moment the devil was rising in fury, the scapular of Our Lady of Sorrows had been placed on me [by Ce­cilia Giannini] and I realized that when the devil was trying to take some­thing off of me, it could be nothing but that. My Mother, Our Lady of Sor­rows, also be thanked.”


Another time in her Diary she writes:
“It happened today as usual. I had gone to bed, in fact I was asleep, but the devil did not wish this. He presented himself in a disgusting manner; he tempted me but I was strong. I commended myself to Jesus asking that He take my life rather than have me offend Him. What horrible temptations those were! All displease me but those against Holy Purity make me most wretched. Afterward he left me in peace and the Angel Guardian came and assured me that I had not done anything wrong. I com­plained somewhat, because I wished his help at such times, and he said that whether I saw him or not, he would be always above my head.”


In his biography, Father Germanus writes:

“With a view to protect her from these Satanic attacks and apparitions, I enjoined on her, under whatever form the persons of the other world might appear to her, to at once repeat the words “Viva Gesu!” (“Long live Jesus!” –editor). I was unaware that our Our Lord Himself had given her a similar remedy in the words: “Benedetto sio Dio e Maria!” (Blessed be God and Mary!)

And the docile child, in order to obey both, used to repeat the double exclamation-

“Viva Gesu! Benedetto sio Dio e Maria!” (Blessed be Jesus! Blessed be God and Mary!) The good spirits always repeated her words, whereas the malignant ones either did not reply, or else pronounced only a few words, such as “Viva” or “Benedetto”, without adding any name. By this means Gemma recognized them and scorned them accordingly. ”


Regarding the attacks from the devil, at times she would find comfort in her sense of humor. She once wrote to Father Germano stating “If you would have seen him Father, when he fled making faces, you would have burst out laughing! He is so ugly!…. But Jesus told me not to be afraid of him”

Certainly Satan must have growled with rage at the zeal of this holy girl, finding how she snatched his choicest victims from him. He often appeared to her with eyes of fire and in threaten­ing tones said: “While acting for yourself, do as you please, but listen well, do nothing for the conversion of sinners; if you attempt it, I shall make you pay dearly for it.”


At other times assuming the role of prudent counselor he would say: “How and where comes such presumption? You are laden with sins, and all the years of thy life would not suffice to bewail and expiate them, and yet you lose time about the sins of others? Do you not see that your own soul is in danger? A strange gain, that of think­ing for others and neglecting thyself.” And on another occasion the infenal demon said “Don’t you see that Jesus no longer hears you and that He will no longer have anything to do with you?” But through the grace of God, and the will of Gemma, all the devils temptations were made in vain.

St.Gemma Galgani and her Guardian angel 


Born in 1878 in Lucca, Italy, she was outstanding for her angelic purity, child-like simplicity, candor, and innocence, virtues that no doubt help account for the special privilege she received. Gemma’s confessor and biographer provides us with details of her familiarity with her guardian angel.
“Gemma,” he writes, “saw him with her eyes, touched him with her hand as if he were a being of this world, remained talking with him as one friend with another. ‘Jesus has not left me alone,’ she said. ‘He makes my guardian angel stay with me always….’

“‘If I am sometimes culpable, dear Angel, don’t be angry with me. I want to be grateful to thee,’ she said to him.


“And the angel answered: ‘Yes, I shall be thy guide and inseparable companion. Dost thou not know who it is that gave me charge of thee? It is the merciful Jesus.’

“Unable to restrain her emotion at this, the angelic girl stood rapt in ecstasy with her angel. The angel sometimes let her see him raised in the air with outspread wings, his hands extended over her or joined in an attitude of prayer. At other times, he knelt beside her.

“I myself,” continues her confessor, “have often attended Gemma’s meditations with her angel.… I noted that every time she raised her eyes to look at the angel, listen to him, or speak to him, even aside from the time of meditation and prayer, she lost the use of her senses. At those moments one could prick, burn, or shake her without her feeling it.

“Her angel guardian was to Gemma a second Jesus, so to speak. She made known to him her own wants and those of others. In her sufferings she wanted him always by her side. She entrusted him to lay several matters before the throne of God, before the Divine Mother and her patron saints, giving him closed and sealed letters to them with a request to bring her the answers promptly. Those letters, as a matter of fact, disappeared.”

She also kept the angel busy with many letters to people in this world, often to her confessor.

“It was thus,” he writes, “that she kept the heavenly messenger continually on the move, and he most gladly favored her. Even without being called, he hastened to her in every need and danger. He restrained the power and malicious ruses of the devil, who was always just as vigilant in his efforts to do her harm. Instances are not wanting of this blessed guardian’s constant watchfulness. Once when Gemma was at table with her family, one of those present did not hesitate to blaspheme the Holy Name of God. Upon hearing this, she fainted in horror and, falling, would have dashed her head against the floor had her angel not hastened to her aid. He took her hand, supported her, and with a single word restored her.

“The most important mission of Gemma’s angel was in what concerned her spiritual advancement. While he served on one side as her watchful protector, on the other she found in him a perfect master of Christian perfection.

“The holy guardian knew how to show severity when necessary. One day she told me of this in the following words: ‘My angel is a bit severe, but I am glad for it. During the past few days he called me to order as many as three or four times a day.’

“Seeing the great charity lavished on her, Gemma loved her angel immensely, and his name was always on her lips as well as in her heart. ‘Dear Angel,’ she would say, ‘I so love you!’

“‘And why?’ he would ask.

“‘Because you teach me to be good, to remain humble, and to please Jesus.’

“Another time, Gemma wrote: ‘I was in bed, suffering greatly, when I suddenly became absorbed in prayer. I folded my hands and, moved with heartfelt sorrow for my countless sins, I made an act of deep contrition. My mind was wholly plunged in this abyss of crime against my God when I beheld my angel standing by my bed. I felt ashamed of being in his presence, but he was more than courteous with me, and said kindly: “Jesus loves thee greatly; love Him greatly in return.” Then he added: “Art thou fond of Jesus’ Mother? Salute her very often, for she values such attention very much and unfailingly returns the greetings offered her; and if thou dost not feel that she does, know that thus she makes a proof of thine unfailing trust.” He blessed me and disappeared.’”

May Saint Gemma’s intimacy with her angel, so simple, spontaneous, and full of profound humility, be an example for us all. 

Excerpts taken from Fr. Germanus C.P. (her spiritual director), Blessed Gemma Galgani, 1903, pp. 207-216.

St.Gemma Galgani ~Heart on Fire 

Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, in a small Italian town near Lucca. At a very young age, Gemma developed a love for prayer. She made her First Communion on June 17, 1887. As a pupil at the school run by the Sisters of St. Zita, Gemma was loved by her teachers and her fellow pupils. Although quiet and reserved, she always had a smile for everyone. Although a good student, she had to quit school due to chronic ill health before completing the course of study.


Throughout her life, Gemma was to be favored with many mystical experiences and special graces. These were often misunderstood by others, causing ridicule. Gemma suffered these heartaches in reparation, remembering that Our Lord Himself had been misunderstood and ridiculed.


Gemma had an immense love for the poor, and helped them in any way she could. After her father’s death, the nineteen year old Gemma became the mother of her seven brothers and sisters. When some were old enough to share this responsibility, she lived briefly with a married aunt. At this time, two young men proposed marriage to her. Gemma however, wanted silence and retirement, and more that ever, she desired to pray and speak only to God.

Gemma returned home and almost immediately became very ill with meningitis. Throughout this illness, her one regret was the trouble she caused her relatives who took care of her. Feeling herself tempted by the devil, Gemma prayed for help to the Venerable Passionist, Gabriel Possenti. (Gabriel was later canonized) Through his intercession, Gemma was miraculously cured.

Gemma wished to become a nun, but her poor health prevented her from being accepted. She offered this disappointment to God as a sacrifice.

Gemma predicted that the Passionists would establish a monastery at Lucca; this came to pass two years after her death. Today, Gemma’s mortal remains are still treasured at the Passionist monastery in Lucca.


On June 8, 1899, Gemma had an interior warning that some unusual grace was to be granted to her. She had pain in her hands, feet and heart and blood was coming from the places where she had pain. These were the marks of the stigmata. Each Thursday evening, Gemma would fall into rapture and the marks would appear. The stigmata remained until Friday afternoon or Saturday morning when the bleeding would stop, the wounds would close, and only white marks would remain in place of the deep gashes. Gemma’s stigmata would continue to appear until the last three years of her life, when her confessor forbade her to accept them. Through her prayers, this phenomenon ceased, but the whitish marks remained on her skin until her death.


Through the help of her confessor, Gemma went to live with a family named Giannini, where she was allowed more freedom than at home for her spiritual life. She had many ecstacies and her words spoken during these raptures, were recorded by her confessor and a relative of her adoptive family. At the end of her ecstacies, she returned to normal and went quietly and serenely about the family life. Gemma often saw her guardian angel, with whom she was on familiar terms. She often sent her guardian angel on errands, usually to deliver a letter or oral message to her confessor in Rome.


During the apostolic investigations into her life, all witnesses testified that there was no artfulness in Gemma’s manner. Most of her severe penances and sacrifices were hidden from most who knew her.

In January of 1903, Gemma was diagnosed as having tuberculosis. She died quietly in the company of the parish priest, on April 11 at age twenty-five. He said, “She died with a smile which remained upon her lips, so that I could not convince myself that she was really dead.” She was beatified in 1933 and canonized on May 2, 1940, only thirty-seven years after her death.

Encounters with the souls in purgatory


Short stories of Purgatory -A remarkable collection of visits from the souls in Purgatory to various Saints and Mystics.
“I know when you pray for me, and it is the same with all of the other souls here in Purgatory. Very few of us here get any prayers; the majority of us are totally abandoned, with no thought or prayers offered for us from those on earth” (Message from a soul in Purgatory)
St Padre Pio’s visions of the souls in Purgatory


In May, 1922, Padre Pio testified the following to the Bishop of Melfi, His Excellency Alberto Costa and also the superior of the friary, Padre Lorenzo of San Marco along with 5 other friars. One of the five friars, Fra Alberto D’ Apolito of San Giovanni Rotondo wrote down the account as follows:

“While in the friary on a winter afternoon after a heavy snowfall, he was sitting by the fireplace one evening in the guest room, absorbed in prayer, when an old man, wearing an old-fashioned cloak still worn by southern Italian peasants at the time, sat down beside him. Concerning this man Pio states: ‘I could not imagine how he could have entered the friary at this time of night since all the doors are locked. I questioned him: ‘Who are you? What do you want?’

The old man told him, “Padre Pio, I am Pietro Di Mauro, son of Nicola, nicknamed Precoco.” He went on to say, “I died in this friary on the 18th of September, 1908, in cell number 4, when it was still a poorhouse. One night, while in bed, I fell asleep with a lighted cigar, which ignited the mattress and I died, suffocated and burned. I am still in Purgatory. I need a holy Mass in order to be freed. God permitted that I come and ask you for help.” 

According to Padre Pio: “After listening to him, I replied, ‘Rest assured that tomorrow I will celebrate Mass for your liberation.’ I arose and accompanied him to the door of the friary, so that he could leave. I did not realize at that moment that the door was closed and locked: I opened it and bade him farewell The moon lit up the square, covered with snow. When I no longer saw him in front of me, I was taken by a sense of fear, and I closed the door, reentered the guest room, and felt faint.”

A few days later, Padre Pio also told the story to Padre Paolino, and the two decided to go to the town hall, where they looked at the vital statistics for the year I908 and found that on September 18 of that year, one Pietro Di Mauro had in fact died of burns and asphyxiation in Room Number 4 at the friary, then used as a home for the homeless. 

Around the same time, Padre Pio told Fra Alberto of another apparition of a soul from Purgatory which also occurred around the same time. He said: 

One evening, when I was absorbed in prayer in the choir of the little church I was shaken and disturbed by the sound of footsteps, and candles and flower vases being moved on the main altar. Thinking that someone must be there, I called out, “Who is it?” 

No one answered. Returning to prayer, I was again disturbed by the same noises. In fact, this time I had the impression that one of the candles, which was in front of the statue of Our Lady of Grace, had fallen. Wanting to see what was happening on the altar, I stood up, went close to the grate and saw, in the shadow of the light of the Tabernacle lamp, a young confrere doing some cleaning. I yelled out, “What are you doing in the dark?” The little friar answered, “I am cleaning.” 

“You clean in the dark?” I asked. “Who are you?” 

The little friar said, ‘I am a Capuchin novice, who spends his time of Purgatory here. I am in need of prayers.’ and then he disappeared,” 

Padre Pio stated that he immediately began praying for him as requested, and it is not known if he had any further dealings with this particular soul. However, in regards souls in Purgatory it is very interesting to note that later in life Padre Pio once said that ‘As many souls of the dead come up this road [to the monastery] as that of the souls of the living.” Without a doubt, many souls from Purgatory visited Padre Pio seeking his prayers, sacrifices and sufferings to obtain their release.


From the manuscript of Sister M. de L.C., written from 1874-1890

To get an idea of how Purgatory is arranged, we can get a good glimpse of it from a nun from France who had died on February 22, 1871 at the age of 36, and 2-1/2 years later (in November 1873) she began appearing from Purgatory to a fellow nun in her convent, named Sister M. de L.C (name kept anonymous in the manuscript to protect the nuns identity, as the manuscript was published while the nun was still living) as related in the booklet “An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory” published by The Reparation Society of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Inc., 2002:

“I can tell you about the different degrees of Purgatory because I have passed through them. In the great Purgatory there are several stages. In the lowest and most painful, it is like a temporary hell, and here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life. For such souls, Purgatory is terrible. It is a real hell with this difference, that in hell they curse God, whereas we bless Him and thank Him for having saved us. 

Next to these come the souls, who though they did not com¬mit great crimes like the others, were indifferent to God. They did not fulfill their Easter duties and were also converted at the point of death. Many were unable to receive Holy Communion. They are in Purgatory for the long years of indifference. They suffer unheard of pains and are abandoned either without prayers or if they are said for them, they are not allowed to profit by them. There are in this stage of Purgatory religious of both sexes, who were tepid, neglectful of their duties, indifferent towards Jesus, also priests who did not exercise their sacred ministry with the reverence due to the Sovereign Majesty and who did not instill the love of God sufficiently into the souls confided to their care. I was in this stage of Purgatory. 

In the second Purgatory are the souls of those who died with venial sins not fully expiated before death, or with mortal sins that have been forgiven but for which they have not made entire satisfaction to the Divine Justice. In this part of Purgatory, there are also different degrees according to the merits of each soul. 

Thus the Purgatory of the consecrated souls or of those who have received more abundant graces, is longer and far more painful than that of ordinary people of the world. 

Lastly, there is the Purgatory of desire which is called the Threshold. Very few escape this. To avoid it altogether, one must ardently desire Heaven and the vision of God. That is rare, rarer than people think, because even pious people are afraid of God and have not, therefore, a sufficiently strong desire of going to Heaven. This Purgatory has its very painful martyrdom like the others. The deprivation of the sight of our loving Jesus adds to the intense suffering.” 

Another explanation of the levels in Purgatory from this same book:

Retreat, August 1878: “Great sinners who were indifferent towards God, and religious who were not what they should have been are in the lowest stage of Purgatory. While they are there [in the lowest realms of Purgatory], the prayers offered up for them are not applied to them. Because they have ignored God during their life, He now in His turn leaves them abandoned [without the aid of the prayers of others] in order that they may repair their neglectful and worthless lives. While on earth one truly cannot picture or imagine what God really is, but we (in Purgatory) know and understand Him for what He is, because our souls are freed from all the ties that fettered them and prevented them from realizing the holiness and majesty of God and His great mercy. We are martyrs, consumed as it were by love. An irresistible force draws us towards God who is our center, but at the same time another force thrusts us back to our place of expiation. 

We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants. You on earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure. I am much relieved as I am no longer in the fire. I have now only the insatiable desire to see God, a suffering cruel enough indeed, but I feel that the end of my exile is at hand and that I am soon to leave this place where I long for God with all my heart. I know it well, I feel more at ease, but I cannot tell you the day or the hour of my release. God alone knows that. It may be that I have still many years of longing for Heaven. Continue to pray; I will repay you later on, though I do pray a great deal for you now.” 

Why is it that I pray for you with less fervor than I pray for others and that often I forget to recommend you? 

Do not trouble yourself about that. It is a punishment for me. 

Even if you prayed more I should not be any the more relieved. God wills it thus. If He wants you to pray more He will inspire you to do so. I repeat again, do not be worried about me. You will never see me in my sufferings. Later on, when your soul is stronger, you will see souls in Purgatory and very awful ones, but let this not frighten you. God will then give you the necessary courage and all that you need to accomplish His holy will. 

Is this not a punishment? 

No, certainly not, I am here for my relief and for your sanctification. If you would but pay a little more attention to what I say. 

That is true but these happenings are so extraordinary that I do not know what to make of them; it is not an ordinary thing to hear you in this way. 

I understand well your difficulty and I am aware of your sufferings on this account. However, if God wishes it and it relieves me, you will have pity on me, will you not? When I am released you will see that I will do far more for you than you have ever done for me. I already pray much for you.

Where is Sister –?

In the lowest Purgatory, where she receives no benefit from anyone’s prayers. God is often displeased, if one may speak thus, when many religious come to die, because He has called these souls to Himself that they might serve Him faithfully on earth and go straight to Heaven at the moment of death, but because of their infidelity, they have to stay long in Purgatory – far longer than people in the world who have not had so many graces.

1879, Retreat in September. We see St. Michael as we see the angels. He has no body. He comes to get the souls that have finished their purification. It is he who conducts them to Heaven. He is among the Seraphim as Monsignor said. He is the highest angel in Heaven. Our own Guardian Angels come to see us but St. Michael is far more beautiful than they are. As to the Blessed Virgin, we see her in the body. She comes to Purgatory on her feasts and she goes back to Heaven with many souls. While she is with us we do not suffer. St. Michael accompanies her. When he comes alone, we suffer as usual. When I spoke to you of the great and the second Purgatory, it was to try to make you understand that there are different stages in Purgatory. Thus I call that stage of Purgatory “great” or “worst” where the most guilty souls are, and where I stayed for two years without being able to give a sign of the torments I was suffering. The year when you heard me groaning, when I began to speak to you, I was still in the same place.

In the second Purgatory, which is still Purgatory but very different from the first, one suffers a great deal, but less than in the great place of expiation. Then there is a third stage, which is the Purgatory of desire, where there is no fire. The souls who did not desire Heaven ardently enough, who did not love God sufficiently, are there. It is there that I am at this moment. Further, in these three parts of Purgatory, there are many degrees of variation. Little by little, as the soul becomes purified, her sufferings are changed.

You sometimes say to me that the perfecting of a soul is a long process and you are also astonished that after so many prayers, I am so long deprived of the sight of God. Alas, the perfecting of a soul does not take any less time in Purgatory than upon earth. There are a number of souls, but they are very few, who have only a few venial sins to expiate. These do not stay long in Purgatory. A few well-said prayers, a few sacrifices soon deliver them. But when there are souls like mine – and that is nearly all whose lives have been so empty and who paid little or no attention to their salvation – then their whole life has to be begun over again in this place of expiation. The soul has to perfect itself and love and desire Him, whom it did not love sufficiently on earth. This is the reason why the deliverance of some souls is delayed. God has given me a very great grace in allowing me to ask for prayers. I did not deserve it, but without this I would have remained like most of those here, for years and years more.”

The immense power of the Mass for the souls in Purgatory


Next, from the excellent book “Purgatory –Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints” by Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J., Tan Books, 1986 we read the following accounts which highlight the power and importance of offering holy Masses for the departed. The following is a sincere testimony from the person who experienced several visits from a soul in purgatory, and thus she provides a detailed and frank eye-witness account with regard to the facts: 

On October 13, 1849, there died at the age of fifty-two, in the parish of Ardoye, in Flanders, a woman named Eugenie Van de Kerckove, whose husband, John Wybo, was a farmer. She was a pious and charitable woman who generously gave to charity in proportionate to her means. She had, to the end of her life, a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and abstained from meat in her honor on the Friday and Saturday of each week. Although her conduct was not free from certain faults, she otherwise led a exemplary and edifying life. 

Eugenie had a servant named Barbara Vennecke, aged twenty-eight, who was known as a virtuous and devoted girl, and who had assisted her mistress in her last sickness, and after Eugenie’s death, she continued to serve her master, John Wybo, the widower of Eugenie. 

About three weeks after her death, the deceased appeared to her servant under circumstances which we will now relate. It was in the middle of the night; Barbara slept soundly, when she heard herself called distinctly three times by her name. She awoke with a start, and saw Eugenie before her, sitting on the side of her bed, clad in a working dress, consisting of a skirt and short jacket. At this remarkable sight, Barbara was seized with astonishment. The apparition spoke to her: “Barbara,” she said, simply pronouncing her name. “What do you desire, Eugenie?” replied the servant. 

‘Please take,” said the mistress, “the little rake which I often told you to put in its place; stir the heap of sand in the little room; you know to which one I refer. You will find there 500 franks; use it to have Masses said, two francs for each Mass, for my intention, for I am still suffering.” “I will do so, Eugenie,” replied Barbara, and at the same moment the apparition vanished. After awhile she fell asleep again, and reposed quietly until morning: 

On awaking, Barbara thought that maybe it was all just a dream, but yet she had been so deeply impressed, so wide awake, she had seen her old mistress in a form so distinct, so full of life and she had received from her lips such precise directions, that she could not help saying, “This cannot have been a dream. I saw my mistress in person; she presented herself to my eyes and she surely spoke to me. It is no dream, but a reality.” 

She therefore immediately went and took the rake as directed, stirred the sand, and drew out a purse containing the sum of five hundred francs. 

In such strange and extraordinary circumstances the good girl thought it her duty to seek the advice of her pastor before spending the 500 francs on having Masses said, and went to relate to him all that had happened. The venerable Abbe R., then parish priest of Ardoye, replied that the Masses asked by the departed soul absolutely must be celebrated, but, in order to dispose of the sum of money, the consent of the husband, John Wybo, was necessary, since the money was found in his house. The latter willingly consented that the money should be employed for so holy a purpose, and the Masses were celebrated, being given two francs for each Mass. 

We call attention to the circumstance of the Mass donations, because it corresponded with the pious custom of the deceased. The fee for a Mass fixed by the diocese at that time was a franc and a half, but during her lifetime Eugenie-through consideration and charity for the clergy, many of whom were quite poor- always gave two francs for each Mass that she made offerings for. Thus the extra 1/2 a frank Mass offering that she normally made was an act of charity and additional financial support for the priests who celebrated them. 

Two months after the first apparition, while Masses were still being said for Eugenie’s intentions, Barbara was again awakened during the night. This time her chamber was illuminated with a bright light, and her mistress appeared before her with a radiant smile, beautiful and fresh in appearance as in the days of her youth, and was dressed in a robe of dazzling whiteness—“Barbara,” she said in a clear voice, “I thank you! For I am now delivered from the place of purification.’ Saying these words, she disappeared, and the chamber became dark as before. 

The servant, amazed at what she had just seen, was full of joy, and she soon spread the remarkable story to everyone about the town . This apparition made the most lively impression upon her mind, and she preserves to this day the most consoling remembrance of it. It is from her that we have these details, through the favor of the venerable Abbe L., who was curate at Ardoye when these facts occurred. 

This is but one of the many stories in regards to the power and efficacy of the Holy Mass wherein the Son of God Himself offers Himself upon the altar for the forgiveness of our sins, for it is a fact that of all that we can do in favor of the souls in Purgatory, there is nothing more powerful and precious than the offering of immolation of our Divine Saviour upon the altar. Besides being the express doctrine of the Church as manifested in her Councils, there are many miraculous facts, properly authenticated, which leave no room for doubt in regard to this point. 

In evidence to this we now provide another incident, related by the historian Ferdinand of Castile. From 1324-1327 there was at Cologne two Dominican Religious of distinguished talent, one of whom was Blessed Henry Suso (1295-1366). They shared the same studies, the same kind of life, and above all the same desire for sanctity, which had caused them to form an close friendship. 

When they had finished their studies, seeing that they were about to be separated to return each one to his own convent, they agreed and promised one another that the first of the two who should die should be assisted by the other for a whole year by the celebration of two Masses each week–on Monday a Mass of Requiem, as was customary, and on Friday that of the Passion, in so far as the Rubrics would permit. They promised each other that they would do this, gave each other the kiss of peace, and left Cologne. 

For several years they both continued to serve God with the most edifying fervor. The priest religious whose name is not mentioned was the first to be called away, and Father Suso received the news with sentiments of resignation to the Divine will. As to the contract they had made, time had caused him to forget it. However, he prayed much for his friend, imposing new penances upon himself and many other good works, but he did not think of offering the Masses which he had promised a number of years previously. 

One morning, while meditating in retirement in the chapel, he suddenly saw appear before him the soul of his departed friend, who, regarding him with tenderness, reproached him with having been unfaithful to his word from which he had a perfect right to rely upon with confidence. Blessed Suso, surprised, excused his forgetfulness by relating the many prayers and mortifications which he had offered, and still continued to offer, for his friend, whose salvation was as dear to him as his own. 

“Is it possible, my dear brother;’ he added, “that so many prayers and good works which I have offered to God do not suffice for you?” “Oh no,” dear brother, replied the suffering soul, “these are not yet sufficient. It is the Blood of Jesus Christ that is needed to extinguish the flames by which I am consumed; it is the Holy Sacrifice which will deliver me from these frightful torments. I implore you to keep your word, and refuse me not that which in justice you owe me.” 


Blessed Suso hastened to respond to the appeal of the suffering soul; he contacted as many priests as possible and urged them to say Masses for his friends intentions and, to repair his fault, he celebrated, and caused to be celebrated, a large number of Masses that very same day. On the following day several priests, at the request of Father Suso, united with him in offering the Holy Sacrifice for the deceased, and he continued his act of charity for several days. 

After a short time the priest friend of Suso again appeared to him, but now in a very different condition; his countenance was joyful, and he was surrounded with beautiful light. “Thanks be to you, my dear friend” he said “behold, by the Blood of my Saviour I am delivered from my sufferings. I am now going to Heaven to contemplate Him whom we so often adored together under the Eucharistic veil.” 

Afterwards, Blessed Suso prostrated himself to ‘thank the God of infinite mercy, because he now understood more than ever the inestimable value of the Mass.’ 

Eugenie von der Leyen

Modern apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929)


As to Saints and Blesseds, so far we have shared stories from St Padre Pio and Blessed Henry Suso. But there are many more canonized Saints who have been great helpers of the suffering souls. The most well known and recognized are St John Macias (who was known to have released literally thousands of souls from Purgatory during his holy lifetime), St. Augustine, St. Dominic, St. Francis Xavier, St. Victor, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Nicolas of Tolentino, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gregory the Great, St. Odilon of Cluny, St. Francesca Romana, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Ambrose, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Efraim, St. Peter Damian, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Genoa, and in modern times the recently canonized saints Gemma Galgani, St. Padre Pio, and St Faustina Kowalska, to name but a few.

Since many of the stories of Purgatory from the above mentioned Saints are well known, the emphasis here is to provide the lesser known and nonetheless fascinating stories from sources and individuals not widely known or read, because in His infinite mercy, history is full of “everyday” persons whom on occasion God has permitted to assist the souls in Purgatory. I will say however that the one notable thing about such occurrences is that seers of souls from Purgatory are often reported to be especially good and pious persons, which is logical, for God permits a soul to appear so that it can be released from Purgatory, or at least, that its suffering be greatly lessened, and a pious, compassionate person is more likely to respond to its requests by the offering of fervent sacrifices, sufferings and prayers which are the means which help the poor souls. In other words, such souls are “saintly” persons, without of course ever becoming canonized Saints.

One such soul is Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929) who kept a diary of the appearances of the souls in Purgatory to her. Eugenie was a well educated woman of high German nobility; in fact Eugenie bore the title of princess and lived in the ancestral castle at Waal, Bavaria, Germany. By order of her confessor, she kept diary of her contacts with the poor souls, which after her death was handed over to Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.

The Shepherd named Fritz –From the diary of Eugenie von der Leyen, 1923


June 11, 1923. At awakening, a long grayish form over me, completely nebulous; I can’t say whether man or woman, but unsympathetic; I am very frightened. 

June 14. The phantom was already in my room when I wanted to sleep. Then I said my evening-prayer aloud, during which it came very near to me. If it hadn’t been for his arms, it rather would seem a walking tree-trunk. It stayed perhaps twenty minutes, then came back at four o’clock. 

June 16. It was very bad. It shook my shoulder. That is a horrible moment. I struck him and said: “You may not touch me!” Whereupon it withdrew in a corner. At my push, I didn’t feel a body, it was like a humid, warm towel. I believed I couldn’t stand such terror any longer. 

June 18. Again this horrible thing; it wanted to clasp my neck. I prayed in fear and took the particle of the Cross [a holy relic she possessed] in my hand. Then it remained with me, staying upright and big before me. It didn’t answer questions.” then it went out through the door, which it left open. 

June 19. I can recognize now that it is a man; he was only there for a short while. 

June 21. The horrible man more than an hour during the night, went back and forth continuously. He has disheveled black hair and horrific eyes. 

June 22. This man from one o’clock until past five with me, it was very bad. He repeatedly bowed over me and sat down at my bedside. I really wept for fear, then prayed the “hours” so that I didn’t need to see him. Then he went again back and forth and moaned horribly. Now it seems to me I must know him, however I cannot find out who it is. I have become very cowardly, for many times it is really a decision for me to go to my room in the evening. Yet ordinarily I am able to fall asleep very well. 

June 24. He came back, seized me at my shoulder. I said: “Now tell me what you want and then don’t come back.” 

No answer; he went again through the room a couple of times and then was gone. My rest however was completely destroyed. At six in the morning he came back. In daylight he even looks more horrific, makes a disgusting impression, belongs to the dirtiest category of ghosts who have already come. I said: “Don’t disturb me, I want to prepare myself for holy Communion!” Then he drew very near to me and lifted his hands imploringly. I was so sorry for him that I promised him a lot. Then I said: “Can’t you speak?” Whereupon he shook his head. “Do you have much to suffer?” Now he moaned terribly. I gave him much holy water” and then he was gone. 

June 27. He was there again, in the night. Seems to know me; I racked my brains as to who he might be. He is very unsympathetic.? 

June 29. He was again in the room when I went to bed. It could be the murdered shepherd Fritz. I asked him at once, but he didn’t react. I prayed with him, during which he fixed his eyes on me so angrily that I was really frightened. I asked him to go and then he went indeed. 

June 30. He came very briefly; his moaning waked me up. 

July 1. Again, I really believe it is shepherd Fritz. However his face is so black that I have difficulty recognizing him. But figure, nose, and eyes are wholly “he,” as I saw him so many times in life. 

July 2. He came back, didn’t look so terribly wild anymore and stayed not for a long time. I addressed him as “shepherd Fritz,” which he apparently found quite natural. 

July 3. He came very briefly. I asked: ”Are you the murdered shepherd Fritz?” Then he said distinctly: “Yes!” 

July 4. He came to me in the morning, looked sadly at me and went away soon, answered nothing, too. 

July 5. Now it struck me that everything about him is clearer. During prayer, he made the Sign of the Cross. 

July 6. I am very happy for he can speak now. I asked him: “Why do you always come to me?” He: “Because you have always prayed for me.” (That is right, for I had always been sorry for the poor fellow; he always looked so particular, even as a boy.) I: “Then what saved you?” He: “Insight and repentance.” I: “Weren’t you dead immediately?” He: “No.” I: “Will you be released soon?” He: “Not by far.” Then I gave him permission to continue coming to me, if it does him well. How remarkable it is, that someone who was so rude in life speaks like that when separated from his body. Now I am not frightened by him anymore, and would like to help him as best I can. How merciful is the good Lord! 

July 8. He came very briefly. 

July 9. He came at 6:00am and by doing so woke me up. Otherwise I had overslept. I: “Is it so important for you that I go to holy Mass?” He:”That way, you can help me a lot.” 

July 11. Only came very briefly. 

July 12. We prayed together,” then I: “Then what do you have to suffer?” He: “I am burning!” Then he came up to me and before I could defend myself, he pressed a finger on my hand. I was frightened so much and it hurt me so much, that I screamed. Now I have a red burn which I hope will heal soon. It is a very strange feeling, to have this visible mark from the other world.

July 24. Shepherd Fritz and the other one came two times in the night, all silent, but [the new one] not very pleasant. 

July 29. Nothing special to mention. Now these two are coming every night. The new one looks horrible, while shepherd Fritz becomes ever more bright!! 

August 10. Shepherd Fritz drew so near to me again, but looked very friendly. So I said to him, “Don’t you have to suffer so much anymore?” He: “No.” and I: “Can you pray for me yet?” He: “No.” and I: “Where are you then all the time?” He: “In the forlornness.” I: “Will you still come often to me?” He: “No.” and I: “Why not?” He: “I am not allowed to any more!” and I: “Have I been able to help you?” He: “Yes.” Then he was gone…. 

To close this remarkable account, Father Sebastian Wieser, Eugenie’s parish priest and confessor, comments: 

“The behavior of this apparition is like the echo of his earthly life. I have known shepherd Fritz well -he was like a “billygoat” in the parish. In him, the greatness of the mercy of God really manifests itself. Rarely did he come to church. He had an only son, who in school became well known for his meanness, falsehood, and deceptions and caused many troubles to his teachers and those in authority over him. When the boy had to be punished at school, the father pulled out all the stops of his indignation over the schoolmaster and priest. I prophesied at that time that someday the father himself would get a beating from this only son! 

When this son was seventeen years old and was big and quite strong, he beat his father to death at around midnight …. Nobody knew if Fritz was dead immediately or if he came to for a moment. The latter seems to have been the case. The murderer had knocked him down in the hay-barn and abandoned him to his fate. Only in the morning was the dead man discovered ….On the sixth of July he states that: “…insight and repentance” have saved him from damnation! On the twelfth day of July he says, “I am burning!” and presses a finger on the hand of the princess, which leaves a red burn which I have seen myself.” –Father Sebastian Wieser

Another modern account: St Gemma Galgani obtains the relief of a soul in Purgatory


The final account will go to Saint: St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903). It is taken from the excellent book “The Life of St Gemma Galgani” by Venerable Father Germanus Ruoppolo C.P.:

“Gemma knew by Divine inspiration that in the Convent of Passionist Nuns at Corneto [Italy] there was a Religious Sister very dear to God who was near death. She asked me about it, and on my answering that it was so, she at once began to implore of Jesus to make that particular Religious expiate all her faults on her deathbed, so that breathing her last she might enter Paradise at once. Her prayer, at least in part, was heard. The Sister suffered greatly and died in a few months. Gemma told those in her home of it in order that they might pray for the deceased, and she gave her name, Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus, as she was not known in Lucca. After her death, this soul appeared to her full of sorrow, imploring her help as she was undergoing great torments in Purgatory for certain defects.

Nothing more was needed to set all the fibers of Gemma’s heart in motion. From that moment she gave herself no rest: she fervently offered prayers, tears and loving petitions to Our Lord.

“Jesus, save her,” she was overheard to exclaim. “Jesus, take Maria Teresa to Paradise without delay. She is a soul that is most dear to Thee. Let me suffer much for her; I want her to be in heaven.” 

And during this time Gemma writes the following in her Diary:

“It was around 9:30 and I was reading; all of a sudden I am shaken by a hand resting gently on my left shoulder. I turn in fright; I was afraid and tried to call out, but I was held back. I turned and saw a person dressed in white; I recognized it was a woman; I looked and her expression assured me I had nothing to fear: “Gemma,” she said after some moments, “do you know me?” I said no, because that was the truth; she responded: “I am Mother Maria Teresa of the Infant Jesus: I thank you so very much for the great concern you have shown me because soon I shall be able to attain my eternal happiness.”

All this happened while I was awake and fully aware of myself. Then she added: “Continue still, because I still have a few days of suffering.” And in so saying she caressed me and then went away. Her countenance, I must say, inspired much confidence in me. From that hour I redoubled my prayers for her soul, so that soon she should reach her objective; but my prayers are too weak; how I wish that for the souls in Purgatory my prayers should have the strength of the saints’.”

And the dear victim of expiation suffered without ceasing for sixteen days, at the end of which God was pleased to accept her sacrifice and to release that soul. This is how Gemma herself told me of it:

“Toward half-past one it seemed to me that the Blessed Mother herself came to tell me that the holy hour I was making was drawing to an end. Then almost immediately I thought I saw Sr. Maria Teresa coming toward me clad as a Passionist, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and by Jesus. Oh, how she was changed since the day I first saw her! Smiling, she drew close to me and said: “I am truly happy, and I go to enjoy my Jesus forever.” She thanked me again. Then she made sign of bidding me good-bye with her hand, several times, and with Jesus and her Guardian Angel she flew to Heaven. It was about half-past two o’clock in the morning.”


Source:mysticsofthechuch.com

Gems from St.Gemma Galgani

Oh Love, oh infinite Love! Your love, oh Lord, penetrates even to my body, with too much fury. When, when will I unite with You, oh Lord, Who with such forceful love keeps me in union here on earth? Do it, do it! Let me die, and die of love! What a beautiful death, oh Lord, to die a victim of Love, a victim for You!

Calm down, calm down oh Jesus; if not, your Love will end up burning me to ashes! Oh, Love, Oh infinite Love! Oh Love of my Jesus!

I shall love You, I shall love You always; when day breaks, when evening turns into night, at every hour, at every moment; I shall love You always, always, always.

Oh Jesus, how are You doing in my heart? In the narrow cell of my chest in love with You, tell me, oh Jesus, how are you doing there?…….Oh Fire always burning, without ever dying down, if only You would let all of me go up in flames? Would You let this fire perfect me? Oh Jesus…Oh Love! My life, my sustenance, my strength!

Oh Jesus, how are You doing in the narrow cell of my heart? Are You alright? Expand my chest, because it is no longer enough to contain You….Jesus, allow me to pour out my affections with You…

I would willingly give every drop of my blood to please Him and to prevent sinners from offending Him.

What do You wish, oh Jesus? My life? It is Yours…..I have already offered it to Thee. Would You be pleased if I offered it again as a victim in expiation for my sins and those of all sinners? If I had a hundred lives I would give every one of them to Thee.

“It is true Jesus, if I think of what I have gone through as a child and now as a grown up girl I see that I have always had crosses to bear; But oh! how wrong are those who say that suffering is a misfortune!”

Let me embrace You, heavenly Bridegroom, source of all my consolations. Who am I, to speak so boldly with You? It is true, I am Your creature, but I am bad; It is true that I was made by Your hands, and those very hands, oh Jesus, I pierced with nails….

I got going to late, Jesus, in coming to You…..I found You, Jesus….I found You…I call You, I invoke You, because I am sure. -But where are You? Where are You hiding? I can smell Your presence. Give me wings, Jesus, to fly to your house in heaven.

To you the Saints, oh Jesus, and the humble of heart. Not me , oh Lord. To all the spirits and all the souls of the just; not me, oh Lord. To you all the inhabitants of heaven, not me….may they all give You infinite praise and thanks! But me too, me too, oh Jesus….Yes, I a vile and unworthy sinner desire to love You with a unique love. Help me, You who are my strength. Fire, Fire in my heart! This morning it is burning!….Words in my mouth….May I be able day and night to meditate on Your glory and love You continuously. Impure are my lips, impure my entire self. I need You: That You cleanse me of every stain. Sanctify me, oh Jesus. May Your memory, Your sweetness keep my soul always united to You. Make me pass from the visible to the invisible, from earthly things to the heavenly.

“It is an easy love, oh Jesus, to love someone that never gets angry with those who offend Him. Many times I have seen, oh Jesus, that while justice demands that I be punished, You take steps to prevent this punishment, even to have it withdrawn. I have found a Jesus so infatuated with my heart that he knows not how to embitter it…..He wants everything for Himself in reparation for my sins. It is almost a lucky break for me to have been born a sinner, because the veins of my Lord are always open, full of that Sacramental Blood!”

Oh, my God! What would You wish to do, my compassionate Jesus? Would You wish to make all Your merits mine; apply to me everything that is Yours? And can there be a heart that will not let itself be taken over by so much charity? Can there be a soul that will not let itself be won over? Can there be a will that will not let itself be ravished by You?

Oh, my soul, how much longer do you wish to be so stingy with Jesus? Why so negligent towards Jesus who made You? Why so lazy towards Jesus who redeemed you? Who do you want to love, if you do not want to love Jesus?

“He asked me if I loved Him. I wept, for you know, Father, whom I have loved more than Jesus. I have loved myself, and often times creatures and pleasures. What could I answer to Jesus? I wept for a long time, and that was my reply. It is Jesus alone whom I should love, and I have never loved Him as I should.”

“When I shrink from suffering, Jesus reproves me and tells me that He did not refuse to suffer. Then I say ‘Jesus, Your will and not mine’. At last I am convinced that only God can make me happy, and in Him I have placed all my hope…”

“Fire! Fire in my heart! This morning it is burning……Dear Jesus, I love you so much! I shall endeavor always to love You; I shall live to love You; I shall die to love You!

….Give me wings oh Jesus, so I can fly to Your throne!”St Gemma Galgani -June, 1902

Source:stgemmagalgani.com