Do you have a history of Purgatory?


A query about purgatory have I.

While reading in my European history textbook, I came across a section regarding the Church during the Middle Ages. According to the book (and some of my interpretation), purgatory, before it was defined as a location, was when the dead person came back as a ghost to the places that they had visited before they died to either seek prayers from the living or settle accounts with them before their final journey.

However, this view, a stance upheld and taught by the Church (according to the text) caused a good deal of unrest among the peasants, which led to purgatory being defined (in the late 1100s) as a location where souls would make amends for their Earthly sins before journeying on to Heaven or Hell.

After reading the section on purgatory in the Catechism, I realize that the definition of purgatory has undergone further clarification since then (or the textbook has things wrong), since the Catechism is actually quite vague on the issue. It defines what purgatory is and how it occurs quite well, but it doesn’t really say in what state it takes place.
Could someone please help me clear this up?



Here’s more than you probably want to know:

From the original Catholic Encyclopedia: Purgatory

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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