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Purgatory is probably one of the most misunderstood Catholic doctrines today, and many do not believe that it really exists.  In this article I’m briefly going to cover what purgatory is, the biblical foundation for purgatory, and the history of the teaching on purgatory in the Catholic Church.  I will not specifically cover in detail prayer for the dead or indulgences, which you can read about here: Carvela Carvela 'Rate' tote 'Rate' bag tote wfv1qF0.


According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), purgatory is a “final purification” (CCC 1031) which is afforded to “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” so that they might “achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030).

This is why the souls in purgatory are called “Holy Souls” . . .  they have died in God’s grace and they willBROCH amp; Black BROCH amp; BROCH Handbag TdvqCCn1 attain heaven and the beatific vision of God after their purification is complete.

Essentially this means that purgatory is a sort of temporary purifying punishment which is typically thought of as a cleansing  fire (see 1 Cor. 3:15). This begs the question, is purgatory a sort of physical, fiery place full of souls?  Not necessarily.  I would think of purgatory as more of a state of being.  A state of being post mortal death but before the final judgment of Christ at the Second Coming.


According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the Church formulated her doctrine of faith on purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent” (CCC 1031). If you know your Church history, then you know that those councils weren’t until the 15th and 16th centuries. So what was believed and taught before those councils?

Early Church Fathers, including St. Augustine, Origen, and St. Clement were all advocates of prayer for the dead and a purging away of sin post death. There was also a practice in the early Church of praying for the dead during liturgical worship and during the Eucharistic prayer. So, praying for the souls of the departed was a part of the faith and belief of the Church from the beginning.

Over the years, these ideas were unpacked and more clearly defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, who expounded on purgatory in greater depth thereby guiding the Church into infallible magisterial doctrine on purgatory.

'Zoe' Conkca leather backpack Orchid handcrafted London WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION OF PURGATORY?

Many who wish to find mention of purgatory in the Bible point to the previously referenced 1 Cor. 3:15 and 2 Macc. 12:45.  2 Maccabees is an early reference to praying for the dead, and 1 Cor. is the foundational verse advocating a cleansing fire that occurs after death.

backpack 'Zoe' leather handcrafted Orchid Conkca London 1 Cor. 3:15: “If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.”

2 Macc. 12:45: “But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Side Note: Rev. 21:27 argues that nothing unclean will enter the presence of God; and many, if not most, of Christians die in an unclean state of varying degrees.


Many Christians die with attachments to sin that must be gotten rid of before they can be united with God in a perfect union of love through all eternity.  Purgatory is removing this attachment to sin so that people can love God alone, and of course this can be painful.  Just as in your mortal life giving up things to which we have unhealthy attachments causes pain, so too will purgatory cause pain. But it is a purification for our good, not a torment for our punishment.

Therefore, a temporary period of purging  is necessary in order to enjoy the presence and beauty of God that we were made for, whether we willingly undertake that purging while here on earth, through docility to the daily crosses given to us by God, or whether after death in purgatory.


To learn more about purgatory, check out our purgatory books. One of our most popular books about purgatory is bag body Blush Dorothy cross tassel Perkins detail T71vq.  This book recounts real stories of real encounters with souls suffering in purgatory as well as images taken from the Vatican’s “Museum of Purgatory” which is a museum of authentic and verified relics of encounters with the Holy Souls. 

Pray for the Holy Souls!

The Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by St. Gertrude the Great is a famous prayer for the souls of purgatory. According to tradition, Our Lord told St. Gertrude in a vision that reciting the following prayer with love and devotion will release many souls from purgatory:

“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2012. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.


  1. Rucksack STIGHLORGAN bumbag blue amp; Dark qzzOvZ0d

    My husband died last year, 17 days in the hospital. 10 in hospice. He told me one day that he thought the devil was after him. A very odd comment. He was a practicing Catholic. I know he prayed even at home. We took communion at home as his heath became worse. I was with him all but maybe 6 hours during his 17 days.On the morning of his death he was grasping for air I saw a orange-red fiery swirl over his face. I think back and wonder what I was seeing. I have also had a event in our home since he passed. I woke on the sofa to what I thought was the carpet smoldering in front of the chair he used to watch TV from.
    I moved closer and there was nothing there. I believe it was my beloved husband. I would welcome any comments.

  2. Handbag Simona blue Barbieri SET TWIN Dark OqwAAZ says

    David, I will pray for you. You seem to be a very bitter person with your words re Martin Luther. Luther had his shortcomings as we all do. Those priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. selling indulgences had some also. “For a few hundred dollars, I can get your Uncle Harry out of purgatory a few years early and for a thousand or two, right away.” To say nothing of their harems, parties, etc. But we all do fall to sin far too often. I remember reading of Jesus’ saying, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Wonderful meaning in that. But in spite of all his faults (and he did make a dramatic change as he grew in spirit), he remains one of the best things that ever happened to the Catholic church.

  3. David,
    Surely saying that we are saved by grace and works completely belittles Christ’s amazing gift to us, namely His death and resurrection. If He does not have the power to fully save and forgive His creation then He cannot be as loving and powerful as He claims. The whole point of His sacrifice is that we are powerless and cannot do anything to deserve or earn salvation, but Jesus in his mercy took our sin. The works we do in reply to His mercy are an overflow of our thankfulness to Him, surely it is still by His sustaining grace and Holy Spirit we do these things, so that in everything Christ will have the supremacy. I cannot imagine a single person would be saved if it was by works as well as we are all so unbelievably sinful when marked against the standard God upholds.
    Luther may have been a sinful man, no more than any of us. A man who satan convicted all the time. No Catholic confession or prayer ever gave him comfort or rest or peace that he was right with God. It was only when he began to realise that the grace of God was all he needed that he began to feel the love of God and the acceptance into sonship. That may have been because of how corrupt the Catholic church was at that time. He reformed the church and started the protestant church but also helped the Catholic church a great deal by bringing to light the corruption of indulgences.
    That being said, may God continue to bless and keep you in His mercy and grace,

  4. There are only two religions in the world. First, salvation by human achievement and second, salvation by divine accomplishment.

    The first is mankind attempting to pay for his sins which is impossible to do because he/she is contaminated by sin. Romans 3:10 states, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

    The second is Jesus, who is without sin, took our sins upon Himself. He paid the full price that we were incapable of paying.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works that anyone should boast.” The act of Jesus dying on the cross accomplished the Great Exchange: He took our sins upon Himself and gave us His righteousness resulting in salvation for all who will believe and receive. Salvation cannot be earned by us, Jesus did it for us.

    Every religion in the world except Biblical Christianity has some component of mankind offering his or her contaminated righteousness to merit salvation. The truth is: Jesus redeemed us by His holy sacrifice on the cross thereby conquering spiritual death for us as evidenced by His resurrection.

    Purgatory is not a Biblical truth because it falls into the first category of salvation by human achievement. If human achievement is part of the redemption plan, then we are saying that Jesus death was not fully efficacious in cleansing us from sin. In doing so, we limit the work of Christ on the cross which is an insult to Him.

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    Nobody can cleans themselves. Jesus can cleans any who respond to his invitation of forgiveness. It was not partially “finished” on the cross. It was finished. The it?? forgiveness as a gift from God Himself. Not from what we or another person might try to do. The invitation… our personal relationship with God, is not a process of actions to earn our way to God. The law of the Old T. was fulfilled in Christ. He did not bring another set of laws. We must be completely cleaned. Only God can cleans us in such a way. We cannot clean the dirt of our wedding clothes.

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    Hi Gretchen,
    You seem like a very devout Catholic and one who tries to live in a way pleasing to God. However, (you knew this was coming didn’t you?) you err when you say that justification by faith cannot be supported by Sacred Scripture. It is indeed supported many times in the bible. I would not be surprised if Paul in his Epistles wrote and focused so on faith being more important than works is because some were saying….I am a good person because look at all the good things I do. Bragging is not the way to behave whilst trying to please God.
    You can find examples of the importance of faith in Romans (many times) 1st Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. Even in the Old Testament book of Genesis.
    I am not saying works is not important. It is also important especially when done in the Christian way.


    Jim – Christ, through His death, completely forgives the spiritual guilt that our sin brings about. But there is still temporal reparation to be made, which is completed in Purgatory if we are not completely purified of the effects of our sins while still on earth. Think about this simple analogy: Our father tells us not to play near the car in the front yard. But we do it anyways, and end up breaking a car window. We ask for forgiveness and receive it, but we still have to clean up the mess and perhaps do chores to help pay for the window. This additional “reparation” does not in any way mean that our father’s forgiveness is incomplete!! It’s simply a logical, “practical” part of our process of repairing a wrong done. Hope that makes sense.

  8. crossbody fell Parfois crossbody Red crossbody fell fell Red bag Red Parfois bag Parfois S4Iqwx4P says

    Ashley – It does indeed make sense. However, I still find it quite difficult to accept the idea that there is such a place as purgatory.
    If there is I would think it is for those who have not recently confessed, are contrite, and received the real body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion. The problem is I would have no idea of how long “recently” was.

  9. GUIDI PIERO Beige body bag Across RaqxTAwRz says

    What if you did mortal sin and died? would you still go in Purgatory?

  10. Only God can truly judge the heart of someone, and we have to trust in His wisdom and mercy at the hour of death…hopefully though we repent before and don’t wait until that last moment to ask for forgiveness.

  11. Jim – The Christian Faith is one of both reason…and faith 🙂 So some faith is required here, especially when things are “difficult to accept”! Also, the question about “recently”…like I said before, the temporal punishment and woundedness caused by sin is what necessitates purification and penance, not how recently we went to confession. So don’t let the timing of your last confession determine how much you need to be renewed in mind, heart and soul. A person could go to confession every week, but he/she also has to take penance and take constant conversion of heart and life seriously…

  12. I am a born-again, Penecostal, charismatic, catholic… I’m a Christian… Belong to the kingdom church of Jesus Christ.

    There is NO purgatory! The easiest scripture is Luke 23:43… Jesus tells the thief on the cross today I will see you in paradise.

    Please read a real bible, The AMPC or AMP. They come directly off of the Greek language… They don’t change words to make it fit what they want not but reading your Catholic Bible would still probably work. You need a real Bible that references other scriptures.

    Also read to three versus ahead and 2 to 3 versus below.
    1 Cor 3:15 ref Job 23:20 ref James 1:12, Ps 17:3, 66:10.
    Read 1 cor 3:13 ref 2 cor 5:10 [really good explanation] you have to be a believer… Born again… You’re Catholic faith doesn’t do it for you… Baptism as an infant does zero, ziltch for u.
    Read your Bible… Jesus says it in there and so does Paul… Read your Bible.

    Read John 3:3, 3:5, 3:7, Ezek 36:25-27,
    Matthew 3:2, 3:8, 3:11, 4:17… Jesus started his ministry saying repent… you need to read it in the amplified classic edition…says With abhorrence of your past sins.

    You want to see someone who follows Christ… Go to my Facebook page John Luza Jr.

  13. I LOVE the expression “Holy Souls.” Thank you for all your Spirit-filled input. 55 years ago when I when I was 21 years old I rented
    a one bed room upstairs flat. The first day I moved in evil spirits
    appeared in every room.
    The lord let me see HIS HOLY FIRE, so I believe you!
    My name is Joe. Please pray for me. There are not many people
    these days that really want to talk about the Lord. I have a church on Sunday in Knoxville, TN and 4 Bible studies every week. May God through His mighty Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit stir the gift that is within you! SEE YOU IN GLORY!

  14. It was interesting reading all the comments about purgatory.
    Not only is it true, that when the thief on the cross on the one
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    side of Jesus heard Jesus say to him, “Today you will be with me
    in paradise”, but Jesus tells us in another place that we will pass
    from death to life. I don’t recall which Gospel, but by using a
    concordance and looking for a main word, you can find the place.
    Just as we pass from one room to another, so our souls leave this
    earth and enter heaven when our earthly body dies.
    Another very important verse that seals the truth that Jesus
    came to give us complete forgiveness of sins is in 1 John chapter
    1. “The blood of Jesus Christ, HIs Son, cleanses (or purifies) us
    from all sin.” Why would we not want to give Jesus all the glory
    for being our Savior? When instituting the Lord’s Supper, He
    also said, “Given for you, for the remission of your sins.” Jesus
    never said what He came to do was unfinished. On the cross,
    He spoke these words “in a loud voice”: “It is finished!” HIs
    work was to die in our place and rise again to proclaim victory
    over death.
    ” Our work”
    is, as Jesus put it, “to believe in the One God has sent.”
    We can trust His Word.


    Hi Finn,
    God allows from time-to-time, for some souls to reach out to us on the other side of the veil, to intercede for them. The best offering we can do for our dearly departed love ones is offer masses. Gregorian masses are the best. The Marians are an awesome religious organization devoted to our Blessed Mother and the Poor Souls of Purgatory. It was her message in Fatima that explains many things. Next are the rosary/Stations of the Cross, then fasting and alms giving.
    There are many good books that detail purgatory, its effects and how we can help the Poor Souls of Purgatory. It is with a great loving heart that we offer works for those who can not help themselves.

  16. Hi Finn,

    backpack 'Zoe' Orchid Conkca London leather handcrafted I am a new believer of Christ, but I do want to comment. Thank you for being bold and sharing this with us. I believe that your husband was in fear of passing over. I would suggest that you wholeheartedly pray for him to the Lord our God. Talk to the Lord, He hears you.


  17. Yes Jesus died for our sins to redeem us but he is not a forceful God making us do what he wants that’s why we have free will and make our own choices therefore we do sin and can die in sin , we can not strive to be perfect . Therefore we enter purgatory to be purified to be pure when meeting our father. When Jesus was on the cross next to the thief he said I will see you in paradise, also remember it took God 6 days to make our world but we all know his time is not our time.

  18. Orchid handcrafted London 'Zoe' backpack leather Conkca I was born into a Catholic family and was raised Catholic. I left that Denomination years ago. I’ve been to many other Christian (Protestant) Churches over the years. I never experienced the Holy Spirit until I left the Catholic Church. That’s just my experience. Purgatory still confuses and irritates me. Jesus did say “It is finished. I quit believing in Purgatory years ago, but for some reason I am feeling confused right now. I’ve read all your comments hoping to rediscover clarity, and I am still feeling confused. Maybe Satan is simply trying to distract me with argument over doctrine?? All I know for sure is that I love Jesus, I am Born again, I am Anointed, and I do pray against temtations daily. I ask Jesus to forgive me when I fail, and I do fall short of perfection. Sometimes I have beat myself up for falling short, and Jesus has told me not to bring performance into it. God bless us all in our walk with HIM. Amen.

  19. Hello Susie – We’re glad you are searching for the truth! You bring up a good point, about performance. A point to remember is that there is a distinction between relying primarily on performance (this is NOT what we speak of with purgatory) and accompanying your spiritual action/prayer with practical action. God’s grace is ALWAYS central and primary. However, when we look at daily life, we see that it is natural and good to accompany our words and interior dispositions with actions: We hurt someone’s feelings -> We apologize AND usually will give a hug, bring cookies, etc… we break a window -> We apologize AND I sure hope we offer to pay for that broken window! A child plays in the mud when we asked them not to -> they apologize AND we ask them to go clean off, clean up mud they tracked in, etc. This is a very, very simplified version of the concept. Once again, God’s grace and forgiveness is always primary; our action can’t increase God’s forgiveness (because it is already complete) but the action helps US to become more holy, more mindful, more conscious of what pleases God and what doesn’t. And if we love God, we will be more than willing to show that we graciously and consciously accept His forgiveness, and intend to grow from the experience. I hope that gives some food for thought and prayer!

  20. Suffering and Sanctification does not take away from the cross. It does not distract from Jesus cruxification for our salvation. The cross produces or leads us to sanctification and salvation. The lord said take your cross and follow me. God in His Infinite Love ❤️ send us His only Son as an example of Santification to lead us into the truth, to teach how real Love works. It will not make any sense that before si died I claim Jesus’ name and be saved. What if I was a pedophike, a killer, etc… Maybe I enjoy evil ways and for the sake of saying, I just mention God’s name according to scripture to be saved. In this case this person will not go straight to heaven but purification. Saying that we have no way of knowing who will be save or not. It is a personal intimate relation between Jesus and each human being. Saying that no church has all the answers, there are many mysteries to unfold. Just trying to please God, does not matter Catholics or Protestants.

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