[Primary sources for this article are “The Amazing Secrets of the Souls in Purgatory -an interview with Maria Simma” written by Sister Emmanuel Maillard and also the book “Get Us Out Of Here- Maria Simma speaks with Nicky Eltz” by Nicky Eltz
Maria Simma was born on February 2, 1915 in Sonntag, Austria. She was the second of eight children. Her mother and father were poor peasant farmers and the family lived a “hand to mouth” existence. They were humble Catholic country folk who possessed a simple yet very devout faith in God. At around age 7, Maria began felt a strong call to help others, either through prayer and sacrifice in the religious life as a nun, or as a lay missionary. With this in mind around this time she told her mother that she would never marry. Her mother replied “Well, we will see when you are age 20”. And to this Maria replied “It is firm inside of me- either I will enter the convent or I will work somewhere else in the world where I can be of help to others.”
However, at age 8 she fell very sick with pleurisy and pneumonia and this damaged and weakened her health for many years afterwards. Yet the call and desire to serve God by helping others continued to grow throughout her formative teenage years and by age 17 she received permission from her parents and the religious superiors to enter ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’ convent in Hall (Tyrol), Austria. But after less than a year the mother superior informed her that she was too weak and sickly for the rigors of religious life in their particular convent, and thus she obligated to leave.
Still determined that she was to be a nun she requested admittance to the Dominicans in Thalbach, Austria, but after only 8 days the mother superior informed her that she was too weak for life in their convent, so she was again obligated to leave. Soon afterwards for a 3rd time she once again sought admission to be a nun—this time with the Franciscans in Gossau, Switzerland—these were mission Sisters and she thought that perhaps this was were God was calling her. But again such was not God’s will and after a short time the Mistress of candidates told her that unfortunately she was too weak for the rigors of missionary work and with this last refusal she realized that God did not want her as a nun, but that her apostolate was to be a unmarried layperson living “in the world” amongst her fellow countrymen. She spent much of her days doing housework and sewing, helping around the farm and surrounding farms, and watching neighbors children. Most of all she lived each moment in a spirit of love, prayer and devotion to God and her neighbor, living out her Catholic faith to the best of her ability. And it should be noted that at a young age her mother had taught her to pray frequently for the poor souls in purgatory so this too was something that was a part of her life since childhood.
A beautiful miracle that occurred during her childhood
“One of my happiest moments of my childhood happened when I was fifteen which was in 1930 or so. One of my brothers and I were working on a farm in Bavaria. When we applied for work there the farmer had clearly promised us that we would always be able to attend Sunday Mass; but it was not long before I came to the conclusion that this promise was only valid for my brother, but not for me. This was because nearly every Sunday morning the farmer’s wife became mysteriously ill and insisted that I stay at home to attend to her rather than letting me go to church with my brother.
“Soon Pentecost was coming and I again wondered what the farmer’s wife would do. The night before Pentecost Sunday she was entirely healthy and so I hoped with great expectation that I would be able to go to Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the next morning. But, at nine o’clock Sunday morning she again suddenly became sick — with a mysterious headache — and told me in no uncertain terms that I had to stay with her again because I just couldn’t leave her alone when she was sick! I was broken! By one o’clock in the afternoon the headache left her and she said I could go. I ran outside and went around an unoccupied out-building behind which there was a bench with a peaceful view. There I cried in desperation for again having missed Holy Mass which I loved so much, and on such a big feast day! Suddenly I was surrounded by a cloud of white doves that settled slowly all around me in the grass – they were everywhere! In the grass, on my lap, all the way around me — just everywhere! They stayed for at least an hour!
“My tears of sadness had quickly changed to tears of joy and I was engulfed in such happiness that all else was gone. Then they left. Afterwards, I told my brother about them, but we did not tell anybody else. Over the following weeks he asked neighboring farmers whether there were any white doves or pigeons in the area and the answer was always the same __ there were none. I do not think another experience from my childhood touched me as deeply as this had. It was pure beauty!”
Visits from the suffering Souls in Purgatory In 1940 came the first visit from a Holy Soul (a departed soul from Purgatory) –Maria was age 25. The holy soul–a man– appeared to her in a vision one night. He was pacing back and forth in her bedroom at the foot of her bed. Confused, she called out to him and said “Who are you?” but she received no reply. Then she hopped out of bed and tried to grasp him saying “How did you get in here? Go away”, he gave no response and as she reached out to touch him he disappeared. However, as soon as she got back into bed he reappeared, pacing back and forth once again. She wondered how is it that she could readily see this man, but not speak to or touch him. She thought to herself, “Well, so long as he does not come near me” and she remained watching him and after awhile he disappeared and she remained awake pondering the meaning of what happened.
The next day she immediately went to see her parish priest, Fr. Alfons Matt, to tell him all that had happened. After I explained everything to him he said “it could be a poor soul from Purgatory. If such a thing should ever happen again, do not say “Who are you?” but say “What is it that you need from me?”
The next night the man suddenly appeared again, once again pacing back and forth. This time Maria immediately asked “What is it that you need from me?” The man suddenly stopped, turned towards her and replied “Please have three holy Masses said for my intentions and then I will be delivered.” And then he immediately disappeared and Maria said “It was then that I knew that he was a poor soul.” The next day she once again told her parish priest, Fr. Alfons Matt, what had happened and the three requested masses were said. The good priest also told her to always seek to do whatever she can to help the souls that might come to her.
Soon more souls from purgatory would come asking for her prayers and sacrifices, and thus began a lifetime apostolate for the holy souls. Over the next few years, only 2 or 3 poor souls came to her each year, but as time went on, more and more were coming to her seeking her assistance through prayers and sacrifices. From the onset however it must be noted that Maria never sought visits from the souls in purgatory—she never called upon them or “channeled” them in any way.
They always came to her without any seeking on her part. In fact the holy souls have told her that it is God in His great mercy who gives them permission to come to her to obtain sacrifices and prayers that their time in purgatory might be lessened.
In fact, during an interview by Sr. Emmanuel she was asked the following: -What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism (by mediums/psychics etc):?
“We are not supposed to summon up the souls – I don’t try to get them to come. In spiritism, people try to call them forth. This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (calling forth the dead, moving tables and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, mediums, etc.) are doing something very dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, l do not do so, and I never will do so.”
Some important things that the holy souls have taught her over the years:
The holy souls have repeatedly told her that the greatest help for them that they can obtain from those here on earth is the offering of holy Mass. Next to the Mass, the holy Rosary and the Stations of the Cross are very beneficial to them. Any sacrifice we make–even the smallest ones– offered specifically for them have a great value in the eyes of God, and greatly lessen their sufferings and time in purgatory. The poor souls have told her that even the smallest prayer or sacrifice is like giving a cool glass of water to a parched sojourner travelling in the driest desert.
They normally appear to her in their normal clothes, that is, the ones that they most often wore during their lifetime, and they often have the appearance of one earnestly begging and desiring help. Sometimes they appear somewhat distraught but this presumably is to elicit compassion on the part of Maria. They normally appear to her looking as they did in the prime of their life, however children and teenagers always appear as they did right before their deaths. And while there are indeed some children in purgatory, their Purgatory is normally not very long or painful, since during their lifetimes they often could not have committed any grave sin since they did not attain much understanding or discernment, and are therefore not accountable to the extent that an adult is.
The holy souls have also told her that there are many, many degrees in purgatory, and that the lower parts of purgatory are the most difficult and the most purifying, and this is where those with grave (severe) sins go–that is, grave sins that have not been forgiven in the sacrament of Confession. As each soul makes reparation for his/her sins that they have committed against God and there fellow man, they are slowly purified and therefore they slowly make progress to the higher levels of purgatory. The souls that appear to Maria are almost always souls that are residing in the higher levels of purgatory. Essentially, the more repentant and sorrowful one is for the sins committed against God and neighbor during ones lifetime, the quicker one progresses from the lower to the higher degrees of purgatory.
The greatest complaint from the souls in Purgatory- Abandonment by their loved ones
According to Maria, the greatest “complaint” of the souls in Purgatory is how they are almost completely forgotton by their family and loved ones–that rightly complain that they receive no spiritual help from those they themselves helped so much during life! How few prayers are ever offered up for them–even at their funerals! Yet prayer is precisely what they need the most! All the beautiful memorials, celebrations, tattoo’s etc done and given in their honor, while they may be good intentioned, in reality do nothing for them and in no way help to relieve them of their suffering/purification.
The poor souls have told Maria that because they no longer possess a physical body, they can no longer make sacrifices for themselves in reparation for their sins; nor can they physically give an offering(s) in request for a holy Mass(or Masses) for themselves—essentially they are able only to offer up to God their prayers and the repentance for their sins, so in many ways they are almost helpless, and are forced to rely on the mercy of God, the most extraordinary and blessed help of the Virgin Mary, the prayers of the Saints in heaven, and the prayers and sacrifices of the Church and of all the peoples here upon the earth.
And concerning the fact that even the littlest prayers can help those living and most especially those deceased Maria Simma shared a story with Nicky Eltz:
-Can you give me an example of where a very small prayer made a very big difference?
‘Yes, every smallest prayer is heard. Let me think. Oh yes, and here again it concerned a Poor Soul who came to me some years ago. ‘A man appeared one night and after he’d told me what he needed to be delivered, he remained standing in front of me and asked, “Do you know me?” I had to answer no. He then reminded me that many years ago, in 1932, when I was only seventeen he had traveled with me briefly in the same compartment of a train to Hall, [Austria]. Then I certainly did remember. He had complained bitterly about the Church and about religion, and I felt I had to respond to this by telling him that he was not a good person to pull down such holy things. This response surprised and annoyed him, and he told me, “You are still too young for me to let myself be lectured by you.” And I just couldn’t resist being a bit rude and fired back at him, “Still, I’m smarter than you are!” That was that, he sank his head into his newspaper and didn’t say another word. When his station came by and he left the compartment, I simply prayed under my breath, “Jesus, do not let this soul get lost.” And now that he was with me, he told me that that tiny prayer had saved him from getting lost for all eternity.”
The story of the priest and the woman Maria Simma tells us the following story:
“A very important thing is to accept before you die all the suffering that God has sent us.
I know of a woman and a priest who were in the same hospital with tuberculosis. The woman said to the priest, “I have asked the Lord to give me the opportunity to do my purgatory here while I am still alive.”
To this the priest replied: “I dare not ask for that.” and right at this moment there was a nun who had been there listening to this conversation.
When they both had died from tuberculosis, the priest appeared to the nun in a vision and told her that the woman had gone directly to heaven, while he had to spend a lot more time in purgatory for not accepting his suffering and offering it to God in reparation for his sins. Here God gives us the importance of the value of our sufferings are offered with love. The sufferings of the earth are worth far more in reparation for our sins compared to the sufferings of purgatory. For this reason, a major illness before dying can in reality be a great blessing and grace of God.”
According to Maria the holy souls have revealed to her the following: -That priests and nuns should always wear their habits/clerics, in as much as possible. -That Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers should be used very rarely, that is, only when it is absolutely necessary; that priests and deacons should make every effort to distribute Communion to the faithful, even though it takes longer to do so. – That receiving Holy Communion in the hand should be avoided as much as possible. -That holding hands during the Lords prayer and that the sign of peace after the Eucharistic prayer should be avoided in as much as it is possible, since both of these are a distraction from Jesus who is present upon the altar and that we should be concentrating upon Jesus alone during this important time of the Mass. -That dogs are the most hated animals by the devil and the demons because they are the closest and most helpful animal to mankind. -That outside of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph is one of the greatest Saints who advocates for the souls in Purgatory. The Angels, especially St Michael the archangel, and also the poor souls own guardian angel are also very powerful in helping to obtain mercy and pleading their cause before God. Also very important is any Saint that the person might have had a devotion to during one’s lifetime. Maria also pointed out that the Patron Saint of the poor souls in purgatory is St Nicholas of Tolentino -The holy souls have also revealed to Maria that it is on Christmas day that the most souls are released from purgatory and then also Good Friday, Ascension day, All Souls day and the feast of the Assumption.
Stories from Maria Simma revealing the power of the Rosary and Sacramentals for ourselves and the Poor Souls
-Has a Poor Soul ever appeared to you asking that you pray a Rosary with him or her? ‘Yes, that happens. One time I can remember now was in the ’50s, as I was taking a train from Bludenz. It was a day when many people were traveling so I chose, as I often do anyway, the last car of the train. I got in and soon found a compartment with only one woman sitting in it, and so I joined her. I had not even settled in yet when she proceeded to pull a Rosary out of her bag saying, “Now, here is somebody who will pray a Rosary with me.” My very first thought was, “If you do this with everybody, it’s no wonder that you’re sitting all alone.” But, of course, I was happy to pray it with her and, while we did, no one else entered our compartment. Upon finishing it, she said, “Thanks be to God”, and was gone instantly. So there I was sitting alone in the empty compartment with many people milling around everywhere else. Not for a second until then did I have an inkling that she had been a Poor Soul.
Sacramentals –The story of a candle lit every Saturday for the poor souls
Maria Simma says: ‘I knew of a woman who had made the Poor Souls the promise to light a blessed candle for them every Saturday. On one such Saturday her husband said, “Oh stop that, you don’t have to do that. It’s old fashioned, and the dead are happy. They hardly need that, and I don’t care what you promised them.”
The woman, of course, was saddened but still wanted to go ahead with it, but without being disobedient to her husband. So she thought, “All right, I’ll just stick it in the wood stove where George won’t see it. He hasn’t lost anything in there.” So she went ahead and put it in there, closing the little door that, by the way, had a small window in it. Then she left the house and soon her husband returned. As he was about to throw something away he glanced over to the stove and to his surprise saw some light inside. This puzzled him, and he opened the little door to look inside. To his great astonishment, turning somewhat pale, he not only saw the burning candle, but around it six pairs of perfectly folded hands. Shocked, he closed the door and waited for his wife to return. When she did, he said, “Why put your candle inside the stove? You might as well put it out here on the table.”
The holy souls and the reception of Communion in the hand and the use of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers
Maria was very traditional in the beliefs and practice of the Catholic faith–and these views, she stated, was because of what the ‘holy souls’ had taught her. For instance, she was very much against the reception of Communion in the hand. According to her, the holy souls taught her that receiving Communion in the hand was offensive to God, and moreover that the Bishops who had pushed for this practice in their Dioceses had committed a grave sacrilege, and would have to pay dearly for this in Purgatory. In fact, the holy souls had allegedly told of one certain Bishop who had to stay in Purgatory until the end of the world, apparently for this very reason. And then she also stated that there is a bishop who is going to have to stay in Purgatory until the permission for Communion in the hand in his diocese is rescinded. To illustrate this point, she would state that none of the Popes (so far) will give Communion in the hand, nor have they ever permitted it in the diocese of Rome (the pope is the bishop of Rome).
Additionally, Maria was very much against the use of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers and felt that they should only be used in extreme cases—again, she said that this was something that the holy souls had taught her. She was not very favorable towards the television, and did not watch television herself–she seemed to think it that overall it was okay to watch TV for the news and for educational purposes, but she felt that most of the programming was sinful.
_______________________ Maria remained single and lived alone her entire life in a poor, simple chalet in the mountain village of Sonntag, Austria. She received countless letters over the years from people all over the world seeking spiritual advice and assistance, and she spent many hours each day replying to these requests in writing and in prayer, to the best of her ability. She spent her life giving spiritual advice and consolation to countless souls, along with assisting the poor souls in Purgatory through her daily prayers and sacrifices. She never accepted donations or gifts from anyone and lived off her garden and her skillful sewing work.
Maria believed in both Garabandal and Medjugorje and often spoke in support of both of these alleged Marian apparitions.
Maria Simma passed from this life to eternity on March 16, 2004. Eternal rest grant unto her O’ Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace, AMEN +