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 At Fatima, Portugal in 1917, Our Lady of the Rosary confirmed the existence of three supernatural realms: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. During the first apparition on May 13, 1917, Lucia asked Our Lady if her friend Amelia, who had recently died, was already in Heaven. Our Lady answered: "She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world”. Our Lady, who previously promised that Francis, Jacinta and Lucia would go to Heaven, now explains that "going to Heaven" is not so easy. The way to holiness is a hard work and requires heroic generosity. If “going to Heaven” i. e. the salvation of the soul, holiness, and overwhelming happiness in the “Light that is God Himself” is certainly the main purpose of Our Lady's apparition, it is also important to know that only the “totally pure will see God,” and as long as man is infected by darkness (sin) he cannot unite himself with Him, Who is pure light.

 But as almost nobody finds himself totally pure at the moment of death, almost nobody could go to Heaven, if God's mercy had not created the “possibility of purification after death”: Purgatory. But this place of purification is a spiritual fire, which purifies the souls through enormous sufferings. Our Lady uses the example of Lucia's friend, Amelia, to show how intense these sufferings might be: “till the end of the world”. Which, translated into our language, means: full sufferings up to the end of all possibilities. If, according to the fathers of the Church, one minute in Purgatory is more than 100 years of worst sufferings here on earth, we can have an idea of what, “till the end of the world” means. Again, what a lesson for us, who are fully occupied with our earthly problems and sufferings, shut up into our little years on earth, and the little group of people surrounding us. Life on earth could be compared to a small hill, from which we look down into a valley full of a huge fire in which burn innumerable souls. Amongst them we can recognize our ancestors, relatives, and friends. And all of them have fixed their eyes towards Heaven and towards this small hill, earth, from where they could get immense relief and often full deliverance of their pains, if only the people would not be occupied only with themselves, but have a small love of the neighbor to help them in their pains.

 Our Lady reminds us from the very beginning of her Fatima apparitions about this gigantic world of Purgatory filled with billions of souls. She does this, first, to excite us to help them (because they all are her beloved children), and, secondly, to remind us that for many, many, years this could be our place after the short while on earth, if we do not care about “going to Heaven”. The thought of Purgatory helps us to detach ourselves from our ridiculous little world and have a glimpse into the “other world”, the essential and true one, and so to live in truth.


 At Kibeho, Rwanda, Africa, in 1982, one of the visionaries, Marie-Claire, asked the Mother of the Word (Our Lady) if her sister, who had died a year ago, was in heaven, to which Our Lady explained that she was still in purgatory, waiting. The visionary complained that their family had prayed extensively for her, so why wasn’t that enough? Then Our Lady said: “Praying for your departed ones is a great comfort to them and a great help for all souls in Purgatory , but people still must work to earn a place in heaven.” However, in a few days, Our Lady reported to Marie-Claire, that “today your sister entered heaven and joined your father”, much to her delight.


 At Itapiranga, Brazil, in 1994, the Queen of the Rosary and of Peace (Our Lady) said: “I love those children of mine who are in such need of me. The graces that I spread represent my love and affection for them. On this day, I free many souls from Purgatory; a grace granted by my Son, Jesus Christ, for the honor they gave me.”


 In a companion booklet called Pathway to Heaven: Our Catholic Faith to God, Purgatory is described as a “Gift from God.” And this biblical reference was provided - 2 Maccabees 12:46: “Thus He made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”


 Also, in the booklet, we learn that Our Catholic Catechism tells us the following:


1030 - All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.


1031 - The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.604 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.605 ...From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.608


  In Medjugorje, the Virgin Mary showed Purgatory to the children visionaries. After their experiences with Purgatory, the responsibility of praying for the souls in Purgatory was placed very strongly in their hearts. Our Lady showed them how much the souls in Purgatory suffer and how much they depend upon our prayers. The following is their description of Purgatory:

  Vicka tells us the following about purgatory: “Purgatory is an endless space of ashy color. It was quite dark. I could feel people strangling and suffering there. The Blessed Mother told us we should be praying for souls stranded in Purgatory. She said only our prayers and sacrifices can release them from that place…The people there are helpless. They are really suffering. We can be like Jesus a little bit if we just do some voluntary penance for the souls on Purgatory, especially for the ones who are abandoned by their families on earth…I am aware of their suffering. I know some of their torment. I know how desperately they need our prayers. They are so lonely that it is almost sickening to remember those moments I was there. It is really a great joy to do penance for the poor souls because I know how much it helps them…And many of our family members who have died desperately need our prayers. The Blessed Mother says we must pray courageously for them so that they might go to Heaven. They are powerless to help themselves.”

Mirjana’s description of Purgatory is: “There are several levels in Purgatory. The more you pray on earth, the higher your level in Purgatory will be…The lowest level is the closest to hell, where the suffering is the most intense. The highest level is closest to Heaven, and there the suffering is the least. What level you are on depends on the state of purity of your soul. The lower the level the people are on in Purgatory, the less they are able to pray and the more they suffer. The higher the level a person is in Purgatory, the easier it is for him to pray, the more he enjoys praying and the less he suffers…The Blessed Mother has asked us to pray for the souls in Purgatory. They are helpless to pray for themselves. Through prayer, we on earth can do much to help them. The Blessed Mother told me that when souls leave Purgatory and go to Heaven most go on Christmas Day. Many people were there. They were suffering immensely…They were normal people, all kinds. There was much physical suffering…I could see the people shivering, thrashing, and writhing in pain…I saw this place for a short time…The Blessed Mother was with me (during the vision). She explained to me that She wanted me to see Purgatory. She said so many people on earth today do not even know about Purgatory…I could not hear them. I only saw them. The Blessed Mother said so many people who die are quite abandoned by their loved ones. They cannot help themselves in Purgatory. They are totally dependent on the prayers and sacrifices of the generous people on earth who remember them. Our Blessed Mother hopes Her own children will help the souls in Purgatory by prayer and fasting and various penance for the poor souls to make restitution for them…Those who have died no longer have free will as they had on earth. They no longer have a body. It is no longer possible for them to make up for the things that they did when they had their body that hurt and harmed themselves and others. On July 24, 1982, the Blessed Mother said:‘We go to Heaven in full consciousness of the separation of the body and soul. It is false to teach people that we are reborn many times and that we pass to different bodies. One is born only once. The body, drawn from the earth, decomposes after death. It never comes back to life again. Man receives a transfigured body. Whoever has done very much evil during his life can go straight to Heaven if he confesses, is truly sorry for what he has done, and receives Communion at the end of his life.’ Our Lady said that the souls in Purgatory can see their loved ones during those moments when we pray for them by name.”


 Ivanka was asked why did the Blessed Mother show her Heaven and Purgatory and she replied: “She wants to remind Her children of the results of their choices here on earth.”


 Marija, through several interviews, describes Purgatory: “Purgatory is a large place.. It is foggy. It is ash gray. It is misty. You cannot see people there. It is as if they are immersed in deep clouds. You can feel that the people in the mist are traveling, hitting each other. They can pray for us but not for themselves. They are desperately in need of our prayers. The Blessed Mother asks us to pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, because during their life here, one moment they thought there was no God, then they recognized Him, then they went to Purgatory where they saw there is a God, and now they need our prayers. With our prayers we can send them to Heaven. The biggest suffering that souls in Purgatory have is that they see there is a God, but they did not accept Him here on earth. Now they long so much to come close to God. Now they suffer so intensely, because they recognize how much they have hurt God, how many chances they had on earth, and how many times they disregarded God.”


 Ivan shared the following: “The Blessed Mother told me that those who go to Purgatory are those who prayed and believed only occasionally – that they were filled with doubt, that they were not certain that God exists. They did not know how to pray while on earth, or if they did know how, they did not pray…Souls in Purgatory suffer. If no one prays for them, they suffer even more.”


 On November, 1986, Our Lady said: “Dear Children! Today I wish to call you to pray daily for souls in Purgatory. For every soul prayer and grace is necessary to reach God and the love of God. By doing this, dear children, you obtain new intercessors who will help you in life to realize that all the earthly things are not important for you, that only Heaven is that for which it is necessary to strive. Therefore, dear children, pray without ceasing that you may be able to help yourselves and the others to whom your prayers will bring joy. Thank you for having responded to my call.”


 We can help the souls in Purgatory get to Heaven by the following prayers and devotions: Mass, The Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, First Saturdays, the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Plenary or Partial Indulgence(s).


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