Have souls in Purgatory visited people on earth?

Nestled in Rome just outside the Vatican, a small unassuming museum dedicated to the souls in Purgatory displays simple items such as prayer books and clothing.

Nothing too unusual, until you realize that each allegedly show the marks of the deceased – such as inexplicably burned fingerprints – when they appeared to loved ones asking for prayers from Purgatory.

The Museum of the Souls in Purgatory is located inside of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Prati, near Castel Sant’Angelo, and contains around 15 of these testimonies and artifacts, collected from around Europe by a French priest Victor Jouët.

In many of the cases, it is held that the marks were left as proof that the deceased had really appeared, asking for prayers or for Masses to be said for their souls.

One artifact in the museum is the fingerprint of Sr. Mary of St. Luigi Gonzaga, left on a pillowcase when she appeared to Sr. Margherita of the Sacred Heart on the night after she died in 1894.

Another is the prayer book of Maria Zaganti which shows three fingerprints left by her deceased friend Palmira Rastelli on March 5, 1871. The sister of the parish priest, she asked appeared to her friend to ask for Masses to be said by her brother Fr. Sante Rastelli.

A mark of fiery fingerprints were also left on the German prayer book of George Schitz by his brother Joseph on Dec. 21, 1838. He asked for prayer in expiation of his lack of piety during his life.

The Museum of the Souls in Purgatory was created by Fr. Victor Jouët in 1897. A Missionary of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Jouët founded in Rome the Association of the Sacred Heart of the Suffrage of the Souls of Purgatory. The chapel the Association used from 1896-1914 was located at the place where the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is now.

In 1897 the chapel caught on fire. When Fr. Jouët rushed into the chapel, he saw the image of a human face, looking sad and melancholy, impressed upon the wall behind the altar. He believed it to be from the soul of a deceased man trying to contact those on earth.

After this occurrence, the priest decided to create a museum dedicated to the artifacts of other appearances of souls in Purgatory. He travelled around Europe and Italy collecting the items and testimonies.

Each piece in the museum was collected by Fr. Jouët from the same person who experienced the vision. The image of the man from the chapel can also be found there.

While he travelled around, Fr. Jouët also asked for money to build a church on the site of the chapel, which he had received a message to build in a dream.

Other artifacts in the museum include the print of a hand and a cross left on a the wooden table of Venerable Clara Isabel Fornari, abbess of the Poor Clares of the Monastery of St. Francis in Todi, Italy, by the deceased Fr. Panzini, on Nov. 1, 1731.

Catholic teaching on the afterlife is that there are three places for a soul to go after death: Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, those who go to Heaven are “(t)hose who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ.”

Those souls that go to Hell are those who have freely chosen through mortal sin “exclusion from communion with God and the blessed.”

Purgatory is a place where the souls go who die in friendship with God but are still imperfectly purified. Purgatory is where “after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” These souls are ensured eventual entrance into Heaven, once they are purified.

The Church teaches that souls in Purgatory rely on the prayers of souls still on Earth to relieve some of their temporal suffering and speed their journey to Heaven. In return, the souls in Purgatory can also pray for those on earth.

On Nov. 2, the Feast of All Souls, Pope Francis offered Mass for all the departed in Flaminio Cemetery in Rome. Speaking about the sadness of losing a loved one, the Pope said that “in this sadness we bring flowers as a sign of hope, and also, I dare to say, of celebration – not now, but in the future.”

“All of us will make this journey,” he said. “Sooner or later, but everyone. With pain, some more some less, but all. But with the flower of hope, with that strong thread of hope that is anchored in the hereafter.”

By Hannah Brockhaus



  1. Tom Rafferty Reply

    Interesting. Have any of these claims been verified by unbiased investigators who are not Catholics? If not, then all of these are unsupported anecdotes unworthy of acceptance.

    1. Jun Sayson Reply

      If not. How about if Yes? Better do your own verification.

      1. Tom Rafferty Reply

        I don’t have to do a thing. People are making extraordinary claims here, thus, they are obligated to present supporting evidence from unbiased sources. That is how science works.

        1. Monk Reply

          These are not scientific but religious claims.

  2. James Reply

    There is Right and there is Wrong !
    Not everyone truely understands , but when we will face God we will.

  3. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Funny how all these ‘burned fingerprints’ occurred before the modern scientific era where they might be more carefully scrutinized using modern procedures. Such miracles become less and less common as science becomes better and better and explaining them and attributing them to natural (or fraudulent) causes.
    What is the implication here, though? Burned fingerprints. Does that insinuate that Purgatory (for which there is no biblical support) is also a place of hellfire? Take a lighter and hold it under your arm until the skin spits and hisses, blackens and burns off in flakes and then imagine that over your entire body for all of eternity – trillions of endless years, and ask whether any being that could do that to a mere human who lives but a handful of decades can be anything but the most evil being ever imagined – and worse – this being knew who would burn and allowed them to be born anyway. I can’t think of anything more evil than this. If I knew for a fact that impregnating my wife was going to result in a child who would grow up and be sentenced to eternal torment, there’s no way I could be evil enough to intentionally conceive that child. Could you?

  4. Patrick Gannon Reply

    OK, so you’re standing at the switch for a railroad, and can switch an oncoming train on to either of two tracks. You look down the track and on one of them is a close family member, stuck on the tracks. On the other is a group of 10 workers. Depending on how you throw the switch, you will kill either one person – your close family member, or you will kill 10 innocent workers. If you do nothing, the train will plow into one or the other. Now when you stand before God how will you defend your action – whatever it is? Which is right and which is wrong, and why?
    Now let’s add a twist. There’s a big fat guy on the bridge with you and you see 10 people down the track. The only way you can stop the train is to throw the fat guy in front of the train which will kill him, but will result in saving the 10 people down the track. What is right and what is wrong? Is it right to throw the fat guy off to save 10 other people? What if it was 20 people? What if the train was going to plow into the station, explode and kill thousands? Would that justify throwing the fat guy in front of the train? What would Yahweh say is the right and wrong thing to do?
    These are just a comple very simple examples that can get much more convoluted. Right and wrong aren’t black and white; but speaking of right and wrong… Was it wrong for Yahweh to condone Joshua’s soldiers going into Canaan to kill every man, woman, child and beast, but to take back virgin girls as spoils of war? Was that right? Was it right to kill 70,000 innocents because King Davie took a census? Was it right to kill the innocent firstborn Egyptians after Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Was it right to condone slavery, sexism and prejudice against the disabled (not allowed in the temple)? Is it right to send a mere human who lives but a handful of decades to an eternal torment of trillions of years in a lake of fire for not believing the right thing – particularly since there isn’t a shred of objective evidence for this belief, to begin with? Is it right to do this when you knew before that mere, pitiful human was even born that it would spend eternity having its skin burned off while being replenished from below as I was taught as a child?
    Gen 3:22 says we know what good and evil are. The last thing we want or need is Yahweh’s idea of Right and Wrong.

  5. florence Reply

    Yes. I have experienced the “fingers” mark. I have not visited my dad’s cemetery for many years especially when I have lived abroad.
    When I came back I visited his tombstone. I sat on it and started crying profusely.
    At that moment I felt a very strong “heat” on my right thigh.
    when i went home I took off my jeans and saw 5 fingers marking on my thighs.(the same spot that I felt the heat earlier. Now I can relate what it mean.
    Yes I have started to offer mass for my dad and all family that has passed on.
    Thank you Hannah for sharing.
    God Bless you.

Leave a Reply