The Holy Souls or the Souls in Purgatory is a subject often regarded today as something old fashioned belonging to the past and often associated with a church language of a bygone era.
It is true that there is a shortage of contemporary written material on the Holy Souls and it is a long time since the popular short books on purgatory and the Holy Souls by Fr. Paul O' Sullivan were written in a post depression America of the 1930s, an age also when the same subjects were often portrayed by artists in a fiery and vivid way causing perhaps a fear of death and what was to follow.
This book which aims to describe in simple terms what the Catholic Church holds and teaches about the Holy Souls and purgatory and to provide the reader with a reflective view on life, death and what awaits us all in the heavenly realm.
Within a short distance of the Vatican in Rome lies the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart. The beautiful multi spire façade was commented on when Pope John Paul II visited there in 1998. In July and August 1999 Pope John Paul II wrote and preached a three part catechesis on heaven, hell and purgatory which clearly defines the concept and basis of purgatory and complements the existing teachings of the Catholic Church on the subject and is well worth searching out in full on the Vatican archive website (www.vatican.va). The church he visited nestles on the River Tiber promenade in Prati-Lungotevere. It is known also by another name: The Church of the Suffering Souls.
Inside the gothic church is one of the world’s smallest and most unusual museums called the Holy Souls Museum which contains relics, various prayer books, articles of clothing including those of a religious and items of furniture that have been touched and scorched by Holy Soul’s. The Holy Souls left their scorched finger and handprints on a variety of items; pillowcases, tables, books and paper.
These particular Holy Souls were allowed to leave purgatory to return to their families or religious orders to plead for Masses and prayers to be offered for them. The Church of the Sacred Heart’s priest, curator and guide is Fr. Roberto Zambolin and he explains that “it is faith that is the key to understanding these relics”.