FATHER NIEREMBERG TOOK UNTO HIMSELF ALL THE PAINS OF PURGATORY MEANT FOR HIS SPIRITUAL DAUGTHER
Father Nieremberg had a gaunt face with hollow cheeks, a rawboned nose and somber eyes so heavy they looked like they would fall from his face. His emaciated face suggested a starving man, or even an outcast. And truly he made the rounds of the poorhouses and the hospitals where the poor and sick lay suffering in Madrid's meanest barrios. But Father Nieremberg could be seen in the company of the Spanish Royal Family and among the rulers at The Supreme Court of the 1600s. His Jesuit superiors had ignored his request to go be a missionary, and instead sent him among the nobles.
One noble lady had become his spiritual daughter, and in his quietly driven way he had led her to becoming more holy. But she was filled with a greatly exaggerated fear at the thought of her death and of the pain she would undergo in Purgatory. The fear corroded her Christian Faith to the point that she hardly believed anymore. She could not believe in a God Who would put her through Purgatory before she would be fit to be before His Face for all eternity. Suddenly, she succumbed to serious sickness, all the while Father Nieremberg was doing his utmost to give her spirit peace and to restore her faith in God which was all but destroyed. She said she would refuse to confess and that she would also refuse the last Sacraments.
The noble lady lost consciousness. Father Nieremberg, justly horrified, took to the chapel in her home and offered Holy Mass with an urgent fervency for the intention that she may return to Faith. While the priest lifted his mournful eyes to Heaven, and the Sacred Host rested in his skeletal fingers with their bulging knuckles, he was seized with a desire to offer himself as a victim soul to appease Divine Justice and to take on all the pain in his life which the soul of the noble woman would have in the next life. Our Lord granted his request. At the very second the Mass ended, the noble lady opened her eyes and had a change of heart. She asked for the last Rites, and confessed her sins. Father Nieremberg had the joy of telling her that she would have no pain in Purgatory. She died happy, in delicious peace while a smile played on her lips.
From that moment on Father Nieremberg, however, was stricken with every variety of psychological and physical pain. The 47 year-old could find nothing to bring him the slightest relief. His only solace was when he would call to mind that he had invited Purgatory-on-earth to save the soul of his spiritual daughter. It shows the sacrifice he felt called to make in order to save a soul, and that a person can take on the Purgatorial pains of another. His spiritual daughter may have been a member of the nobility, but his heroic sacrifice for her was truly noble.
Father Nieremberg's agony lasted for 16 years, until he died at age 63. Fortunately, Father Nieremberg had completed his best book in 1640, two years before becoming a victim soul and in 2017 this book was made available for a modern audience.