St Margaret Mary vision of a nun in Purgatory


Saint Margaret Mary shared a convent with other nuns, and one nun died in ordinary circumstances, but some time later St Margaret Mary was shown this same nun undergoing purification in Purgatory: she was on a bed of torments because of her habitual laziness during life. Her heart and her tongue knew especially painful purging because when she was alive, her heart had nursed evil inclinations and her tongue had said wicked things. Saint Margaret Mary confided in her diary that which the nun revealed, "She told me that she suffered much in Purgatory, but that God had inflicted upon her a suffering which surpassed all other pains, by showing her one of her near relatives precipitated into Hell." This merits urgent comment: the searing sight of a damned relative was worse than all the pains of Purgatory, which means that bad as the conditions in Purgatory may be, they are not comparable to endless tortures of Hell.  The difference between Purgatory and Hell is that of the difference between hope and unmitigated despair, if Purgatory is Sojourn of Hope, Hell is the bottomless pit of despair.

The dead nun would give Margaret Mary no respite, and she begged, "Pray to God for me, offer to Him your sufferings united to those of Jesus Christ, to alleviate mine, and give me all you shall do until the first Friday in May when you will please communicate for me." Margaret Mary sought the permission of her mother superior and did all the dead nun asked of her. Once when Margaret Mary tried to get some sleep, the dead nun reproached her, "You recline at your ease upon your bed, look at the one upon which I lie, and where I endure intolerable sufferings." The top and bottom of this bed had spiky spires that were aflame and perforated her, as punishment for the poor way she had lived as a nun, and she cried out, "Ah! Would that souls consecrated to God could see me in these torments. If I could show them what is prepared for those who live negligently in their vocation, their zeal and fervor would be entirely renewed, and they would avoid those faults which now cause me to suffer so much."  Margaret Mary was reduced to weeping at seeing her pitiable plight, but the dead nun recommended, "One day passed by the whole community in exact observance would heal my parched mouth, another passed in the practice of holy charity would cure my tongue, and a third passed without any murmuring or disapproval of superiors would heal my bruised heart, but no one thinks to relieve me."

Margaret Mary did as best she could for the dead nun, and she saw that her pains were much lessened. But the dead nun was to spend much more time in Purgatory, and was to suffer, "the pains due to those souls that have been tepid in the service of God."

It is extraordinary that the common thread in many of the visions afforded mystics is that priests and nuns are subject to far greater suffering in Purgatory. The dead nun who appealed to Margaret Mary did not abuse anyone, and she had committed no heinous crime, but she was characterized by a negligence, a laziness, and she was carelessly remiss in failing to pluck from her heart the weeds of wicked intentions, she had a harshly uncharitable tongue, and she was "tepid", or lukewarm love of Our Lord. And there is that heartrending admission of hers, that, "no one think to relieve me", which again points to the same fuzzy indifference that characterized her when she was alive, that the lack of care she had for others, was experienced by her in Purgatory when no one thought of relieving her agony.

As I mentioned here, I have had cause to study Margaret Mary's life more deeply. The above account may be found in Languet's Vie de la B. Marguerite, available in English from the Scholar Select imprint.