Everyone In Purgatory Will Be A Saint


One accepted view about purgatory is that it will end at the final judgment of all mankind. Any holy soul there will then be ushered into heaven to enjoy the beatific vision of God for all eternity;  i.e., all such persons will be saints. Perhaps some holy souls will leave purgatory before the Final Judgment, beginning their eternity with God sooner than those who remain there.

Catholics Believe In Purgatory

Now, this is not an article about whether or not purgatory exists. No comment is needed below proving that there is no purgatory, or vice-versa. There are many, many discussions of the non-Catholic no-purgatory view in numerous articles and books.  This article proceeds with this premise:

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030).  . . . ­­­ “purgatory … which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned”(Id., 1031).

One Can Pray For the Holy Souls

There is a related truth about purgatory that is also not debated here. It is that we can pray to God for the holy souls in purgatory. The Council of Trent (Fifth Session, 1563) made clear the Church’s doctrine on purgatory  – in reaction to some protesters who had created their own religions in which the existence of purgatory was denied, or which denied  its necessity for the salvation of some who died:

Therefore this holy Council commands the bishops to strive diligently that the sound doctrine of purgatory, handed down by the Holy Fathers and the sacred Councils, be believed by the faithful and that it be adhered to, taught and preached everywhere.

Holy Souls Prayed For at Holy Mass

In words of the ‘Sacrifice of the Altar,’  the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in any translation of them from the Latin into English (or any other language,) or in any new order prayers for the Mass, there are several references to, and prayers for, the holy souls in purgatory. This has been so since the first Mass liturgies of the Church.  Tertullian, an early Father of the Church, said:

We celebrate the anniversary of the triumph of the martyrs, and, according to the tradition of our fathers, we offer the Holy Sacrifice for the departed on the anniversary of their death.

St. Augustine agreed with Tertullian:

It cannot be denied … that the prayers of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice, and alms distributed for the departed, relieve those holy souls, and move God to treat them with more clemency than their sins deserve. It is a universal practice of the Church, a practice which she observes as having received from her forefathers — that is to say, the Holy Apostles.


There are many prayers, in addition to those of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that are said by Catholic Christians around the world for the holy souls in purgatory.  A popular one is the “St. Gertrude Prayer”:

Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine son Jesus, in union with all the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

I have recently noticed another prayer, actually a set of prayers, for the holy souls in the Pieta Prayer Book. Initially, I did not want to say this set of prayers because it included five (yes, 5) recitations of the Apostles Creed. (5 creeds, 5 Hail Marys; 5 Our Fathers; 5 Glory Be prayers; and the short “requiem”:  Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, let perpetual light shine upon them, and may they rest in peace, Amen.)

Since becoming aware of this set of prayers for the holy souls,  I have changed my mind and have realized I could say these prayers, including  five Apostle Creeds, for all the Holy Souls and, if it be God’s will, for five souls, (or more)- one for each of the creeds-of God’s choosing.  ( I know-don’t try to tempt God, no deals with God). I have, however, sometimes mentioned some people I have known over my life by name and said the prayers especially for them if needed. (Note: I do not think a discussion of the alleged source for saying these prayers is pertinent here, and I believe this a good set of prayers to say for the holy souls whatever the source).

On Behalf Of, For, or With?

I do not know if the Holy Souls can “join” us here now living on earth in prayer, but I do say these prayers to God “for, on behalf of, and, if possible with” the Holy Souls. Thinking in these terms, I say the prayers better than many prayers when  I pray for myself or for loved ones when I let my mind wander, or find myself simply reciting prayers like a parrot.

I have also come to realize that much of what is said in the creed we now say here on earth is no longer part of the holy souls’ hope and faith, including those in purgatory because they now know that many of the statements in the creed are true. They no longer need faith as “evidence of things unseen.” I also can see why they would earnestly and vigorously assent to statements in the creed about:

Communion of saints

Forgiveness of sins

Resurrection of the body,  and

Life everlasting

I try to make a point of implicitly including all the holy souls in any of the plural pronouns  in any of the prayers when it makes sense, “our,” “us,” “them,” “they,” and “we.” For example, when I say “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners… “


I will confess to a selfish motive for praying for all the holy souls. Blessed Solanus Casey put it this way:

If we, by our prayers and sacrifices, freed a soul from purgatory, we would then have another intercessor for us in heaven.

I simply ask God if He will let those for whom I pray who preceded me into heaven know and remember my name.


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13 thoughts on “Everyone In Purgatory Will Be A Saint”

  1. Carmen, Thank you for your comments and for reading what I wrote. You have spurred me on to do more research-e.g. re: what, if anyting, can people in purgatory do? suffer only? I am moved by your group’s works and esp by y’all going to confession before you pray for those in purgatory-that is fullofwonder wunnerfull.

    Guy, Texas

    Some interesting stuff from my new now on-going research:

    “A significant part of the story of Nicholas has to do with Purgatory. It seems that one night, while asleep, Nicholas heard the voice of a deceased friar he had known. The friar told Nicholas that he was in Purgatory and pleaded with him to offer the Holy Eucharist for him and the other souls that were there with him. He told Nicholas this would help get them released from there.

    Nicholas did as asked and prayed for the friar for seven days. After this, the friar returned to him and told him that a number of souls had been released and were now with God. Because of this Nicholas was proclaimed the patron of the souls in Purgatory by Pope Leo XIII in 1884.”

    1. Thanks, Guy, for your reply and encouraging words. While I wasn’t aware of how he became patron saint of the souls, the prayer by St. Nicholas of Tolentino is one of the prayers that we offer for our souls. I sincerely look forward to the results of your research!

  2. Isn’t Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the Living Word of God?
    Isn’t Jesus seated at the right-hand of God?
    What did Jesus say about Purgatory?
    What did Jesus say about praying for the dead?

  3. Matthew 6:7 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.

  4. Ecclesiastes 5:2 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    2 [a] Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.

  5. Good article. But, respectfully, I have to take issue with the title. The only thing you have to do to get into Heaven is be in a state of grace (which makes you a little “s” saint – all the baptized are saints) and purified of all stain of sin. This is different from being a (capital “S”) Saint, who is one who has managed to excel in charity here on Earth and whose eternity will reflect that effort.

    Everyone in Purgatory IS a (little “s” saint). Not everyone who is in Purgatory WILL BE a capital “S” Saint. The time for growing in God’s grace is now. There are no “second chances” in eternity.

    God bless Texas. 🙂

    1. People in Purgatory are on their way to becoming “Saints”, just like here on earth we aren’t perfect, so our life is hopefully progress toward God’s perfection.

      Some people think that Purgatory is in eternity when it could very well start right now while we are still limited by time.

    2. John, Purgatory is SUPPOSED to begin here on Earth, yes – and be avoided altogether if at all possible upon death.

      As for the notion that eventually everyone will become a Saint – We will continue to grow in our KNOWLEDGE of God throughout eternity, but not in His grace. If we did continue to grow in grace (holiness) for all eternity. then the titles “Venerable”, “Blessed” and “Saint” would essentially be meaningless.

  6. Carmen Gomez Quintana

    Thank you so much for this article. We have a small group that prays for the Holy Souls but we do include the names of each faithful departed and each is treated specially, with prayers that include the Memorare, a Holy Rosary, a Holy Mass is offered for their soul and the grace of a Holy Communion. I was told by our parish priest once that our group is inspired by the Holy Spirit and we take the task that God has given us very seriously , including receiving the sacrament of confession often to make sure that we’re in a state of grace when praying for our souls. How do we get more people to pray for the Holy Souls? I think articles like this one are inspiring and we need more of them. Thanks again!

  7. A Catholic and a turkey walk into purgatory.
    The bartender says, “why`d you bring that filthy animal in here!?”
    The turkey says, “Are you unfamiliar with sound doctrine?”

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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