The Pains of Purgatory
Apparition of Foligno
The same rigour reveals itself in a more recent apparition, where a Religious who died after an exemplary life makes known her sufferings in a manner calculated to to inspire all souls with terror.
The event took place on November 16, 1859, at Foligno, near Assisi, in Italy. It made a great noise in the country, and besides the visible mark which was seen, an inquiry was made in due form by competent authority establishes it as an incontestable fact.
There was at the convent of Franciscan Tertiaries in Foligno,
a sister named Teresa Gesta, who had been for many years
mistress of novices, and who at the same time had charge of the sacristy of the community. She was born at Bastia, in Corsica, in 1797, and entered the monastery in the year 1826.
Sister Teresa was a model of fervour and charity. We need
not be astonished, said her director, if God glorifies her by some prodigy after her death.
She died suddenly, November 4, 1859, of a stroke of apoplexy. Twelve days later, on November 16, a sister named Anna Felicia, who succeeded her in office, wen to the sacristy and was about to enter, when she heard moans which appeared to come from the interior of the room. Somewhat afraid, she hastened to open the door; there was no one. Again she heard moans, and so distinctly that, notwithstanding her ordinary courage, she felt overpowered my fear. “Jesus! Mary!” she cried, “what can that be?” She had not finished speaking when she heard a plaintive voice, accompanied with a painful sigh, "Oh! my God, how I suffer! Oh!, Dio, che peno tanto!"
The sister, stupefied, immediately recognised the voice of poor Sister Teresa. Then the room was filled with a thick smoke, and the spirit of Sister Teresa appeared, moving towards the door, and gliding along by the wall. Having reached the door, she cried aloud, “Behold a proof of the mercy of God.” Saying these words, she struck the upper panel of the door, and there left the print of her right hand, burnt in the wood as with a red hot iron. She then disappeared.
Sister Anna Felicia was left half dead with fright. She burst
forth into loud cries for help. One of her companions ran, then a
second, and finally the whole community. They pressed around her, astonished to find a strong odour of burnt wood. Sister AnnaFelicia told what had occurred, and showed them the terrible impression on the door. They instantly recognised the hand of Sister Theresa, which had been remarkably small. Terrified, theytook to flight and ran to the choir, where they passed the night in prayer and penance for the departed, and the following morning all received Holy Communion fo the repose of her soul.
The news spread outside the convent walls, and many
communities in the city united their prayers with those of the
Franciscans. On the third day, November 18, Sister Anna
Felicia, on going in the evening to her cell, heard herself called
by name, and recognised perfectly the voice of Sister Teresa.
At the same instant a globe of brilliant light appeared before her,
illuminating her cell with the brightness of daylight. She then
heard Sister Teresa pronounce these words in a joyful and
triumphant voice: “I died on a Friday, the day of the Passion,
and behold, on a Friday, I enter into eternal glory! Be strong
to bear the cross, be courageous to suffer, love poverty.” Then
adding, affectionately, “Adieu, adieu, adieu!” she became
transfigured, and like a light, white, and dazzling cloud, rose
towards Heaven and disappeared.
During the investigation which was held immediately,
November 23, in the presence of a large number of witnesses, the tomb of Sister Teresa was opened, and the impression upon the door was found to correspond exactly with the hand of the deceased.
“The door, with the burnt print of the hand,” adds Mgr. Ségur,
"is preserved with great veneration in the convent. The Mother
Abbess, witness of the fact, was pleased to show it to me herself."
Wishing to assure myself of the perfect exactitude of these
details related by Mgr. Ségur, I wrote to the Bishop of Foligno.
He replied by giving me a circumstantial account, perfectly
according with the above, and accompanied by a facsimile of the miraculous mark. This narrative explains the cause of the terrible expiation to which Sister Teresa was subjected. After saying, “Ah! how much I suffer! Oh Dio, che peno tanto!” she added that it was for having, in the exercise of her office of Sacristan, transgressed in some points the strict poverty prescribed by the Rule.
Thus we see Divine Justice punishes most severely the
slightest faults. He urges us, in the most efficacious manner, to assist the poor suffering souls, and to be vigilant in our own regard.