As the Feast of All Souls approaches, I offer a story showing how our prayers and devotions on behalf of the dead assist the souls in Purgatory
In November, 1849, Prince Charles of Löwenstein of Bohemia died. A lady who was a governess in his family reported that while visiting the Prince at his deathbed, he asked her to pray for him. In response to this request, she made a vow to pray daily for the repose of his soul. When the family was living at the Castle of Henbach on the Main River in southern Germany, it was this lady's custom to spend a short time every evening in its private chapel.
After one of those visits, about three months after the Prince's death, she retired to rest and in the course of the night had this singular dream. She was in the chapel, kneeling in one of the upper balconies; opposite to her was the high altar. She had spent some time in prayer, when suddenly, on the steps of the altar, she saw the tall figure of the deceased Prince, kneeling with great devotion.
He turned towards her, and in his usual manner of addressing her, said: "Dear child, come down to me here in the chapel. I want to speak to you." She replied that she would gladly comply, but that the doors were all locked. He assured her that they were all open. She went down to him, taking her candle with her.
From the upper balcony where she was praying the lady saw the Prince keeling in front of the altar
When she came near him, the Prince rose to meet her, took her hand, and, without speaking, led her to the altar, and they both knelt down together. They prayed for some time in silence. Then he rose once more, and standing at the foot of the altar, said: "Tell my children, my dear child, that their prayers and yours were heard. Tell them that God accepted the Via Crucis [Stations of the Cross] that they have daily made for me, and your prayers also. I am with God in His glory, and I will pray for all those who have so faithfully prayed for me."
As he spoke, his face seemed lighted up as with an unearthly glory. With a farewell look he vanished, and she awoke.
At breakfast she appeared a bit agitated. She sat beside the Prince's granddaughter, Princess Adelaide Löwenstein, who afterwards married Dom Miguel of Portugal. The Princess asked her what was the matter. She related her dream, and then begged to know what prayers the Princesses had offered for the repose of the Prince’s soul. They were the Via Crucis.
Adapted from Footsteps of Spirits
London: Burns & Lambert of London, 1859
Posted October 29, 2011
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