O MOST MERCIFUL QUEEN
St Peter Damian's feast day is my birthday, February 21. The date he died was the date I was born. Most likely he is invoked the most on that day, and perhaps intercedes especially for the children born then. I certainly feel that way, because I share something with him, that passion to write about the plight of those in Purgatory, and I intuit that as part of his gift to me, he interceded that I be given this drive to deliver them. Albeit, my efforts are paltry compared to his.
What he did in the height of his writing days, nearly a millennium before this Millennial was born, is something that I attempt. I am grateful to him for his role in revealing the astonishingly awesome ways Our Blessed Mother helps and delivers the poor souls. On the last day of November I try to write a post about Our Lady's amazing aid to the holy souls, and this post concerns an account that St Peter Damian wrote about a Roman lord called, John Patrizzi. Signore Patrizzi had been a very rich man when he lived. While he'd been a faithful Catholic, it seemed he had indulged himself as much as his wealth allowed. He had, however, been extremely benevolent towards those who were in short supply of money, and so he had charity towards those whose suffering he had not endured.
Days after he died, a holy priest bilocated to the Basilica of St Cecilia. His spirit was in ecstasy as he saw visions of St Cecilia, St Agnes, St Agatha and others gathered around Our Lady on her throne. At that moment, a lady, dressed in tatters yet with a luxurious fur around her shoulders came forth. She went on her knees before the Queen of Heaven and begged pardon on behalf of Patrizzi because he was suffering so hideously in Purgatory. She addressed Our Blessed Mother, "Mother of Mercy, in the name of thy ineffable goodness, I beg thee to have pity on the unfortunate John Patrizzi who suffers most cruelly in Purgatory." She reiterated this prayer three times.
The woman in tatters, cloaked in fur had been helped by Patrizzi, as she said, "Thou knowest well, O most merciful Queen, that I am that beggar who, at the entrance to your great Basilica, asked alms in the depths of winter with nothing to cover me but my rags. Oh, how I trembled with cold! Then John, whom I petitioned in the name of Our Lady, took from his shoulder this costly fur and gave it to me, depriving himself of it in order to give it to me. Does so great an act of charity, performed in thy name, O Mary, not merit some indulgence?"
Our Lady was moved to clemency, "The man for whom you pray is condemned for a long time to a most terrible suffering, on account of his numerous sins. But since he had two special virtues, mercy towards the poor and devotion for my altars, I will condescend to give him my assistance." Our Lady called Patrizzi up from Purgatory and he appeared before her with chains that weighed on him and made deep cuts. The Queen looked upon him with empathy and then ordered that his chains be taken off, and he be admitted to the society of the Saints. The priest who was given this remarkable vision felt called to preach about it as often as he could, and St Peter Damian put in down in words.
John Patrizzi's corporal work of mercy to the poor woman in giving her a luxuriant fur and his devotion to the maintenance of Mary's altars had meant he was delivered from Purgatory long before his sentence was up. In this respect, he was like the lapsed Catholic Frenchman who had given bouquets for Our Lady's altar and had, according to the Cure of Ars, been saved as a result.
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This post was informed by Father Schouppe's Purgatory. The painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with St Agatha before her is from the church of Our Lady in Valetta.