Poor souls

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The graces of the Holy Mass

According to the doctrine and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, poor souls are souls in purgatory (purgatory), which is where they got through the decision of the particular court (with its weighing of souls ) - the entrance portal of purgatory. There they suffer torments, but they are hopeful because they are not finally held in purgatory, but always have the certainty that they will be released into heaven , the only outcome of purgatory. Prayers by the living, especially memorials , will help shorten this time and save them from their torment. In the liturgy , the poor souls are primarily commemorated at All Souls and in the Requiem .

The church relies primarily on the written testimonies in 2 Makk 12.43–45  EU in the old and 1 Cor 3.13–15  EU , Matt 5.25–26  EU in the New Testament , on the church fathers and church teachers like Thomas von Aquin .

In its Decretum de purgatorio , the Council of Trent set out the way in which the souls in the purgatory receive Mass offerings . In his letter Prope adsunt this (“The days are ahead ”) to Cardinal Pompili before All Saints Day - and All Souls Day 1923, Pope Pius XI. by referring to the Tridentine Council:

“The close ties that unite us on the one hand with the blessed in heaven and on the other hand with the penitent souls in Purgatory naturally entail the following two obligations for us: we must congratulate them on their acceptance into eternal glory as well as ours make ardent requests so that they do not deny us their protection in order to lead a truly Christian life and bring relief to this 'through our intercessory prayer, above all through the godly sacrifice of the Mass'. "

and orders that

“On the occasion of the upcoming Feast of All Saints' Day as well as on All Souls Day and throughout the month of November a great campaign of prayer and atonement will be carried out in the city of Rome according to the above-mentioned opinions."

The Adult Catholic Catechism also quotes the Council of Trent:

"There is a place of purification, and the souls held there find help in the prayers of the faithful, but above all in the God-pleasing sacrifice of the altar."

He also explains that the soul can be called “poor” in purgatory, insofar as it can no longer actively contribute to purification itself, but is passively purified and purified by God. However, in so far as she is on the way to happiness in God, she is actually "rich".

In the piety of the Baroque period, the memory of the poor souls played a major role, which in many places led to the establishment of brotherhoods of poor souls. The main focus of a brotherhood of souls was on the commemoration of the dead, the service of the dead (i.e. the proper burial of deceased members) and indulgences for the benefit of the poor souls in purgatory. The spiritual life of the brotherhood was determined not only by taking part in church funeral ceremonies but also by brotherhood masses and devotions, but also by processions. Prayer was also given for the living members of the brotherhood. It was also true for these brotherhoods that their members were not obliged under sin to perform all pious exercises and the daily prayer duties of a certain number of "Our Father" and "Ave Maria" for the poor souls. The membership in the brotherhood offered even the simplest people the possibility and the certainty of being able to organize their own funeral with appropriate pomp in the style of the time; For example, a certain number of the members, dressed in the coats of the brotherhood, probably also with the ceremonial staffs in hand, walked along in the procession from the church to the grave in the church cemetery.

See also


  • Günther Thomann: The poor souls in popular belief and custom in the old Bavarian and Upper Palatinate region. Studies on popular piety of the 19th and 20th centuries . In: Historical Association for Upper Palatinate and Regensburg (Hrsg.): Negotiations of the Historical Association for Upper Palatinate and Regensburg . Part I : 110: 115-179 (1970); Part II : 111: 95-167 (1971); Part III : Vol. 112 (1972), pp. 173–261 (digital copies on www.heimatforschung-regensburg.de, as of July 21, 2018).
  • Stefan René Buzanich: Reformation and Counter-Reformation and the importance of the brotherhood of the poor and souls in the rule of Litschau, in: Das Waldviertel 4/2017 (p. 432–439); for the issue see http://www.daswaldviertel.at/framesset.htm

Web links

Commons : Poor Souls  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. DS 1820; NR 907.
  2. KEK 1985, p. 425.
  3. Stefan René Buzanich: Reformation and Counter-Reformation and the meaning of the brotherhood of the poor and souls in the rule Litschau . In: The Waldviertel 4/2017 . S. 437-439 .