The Catholic Travel Guide

Rome: Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

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About the Purgatory Museum:
One of the most unique places in this city full of museums can be found not too far from the Vatican along the Tiber River: the Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  

It won't take long to see everything, it is really just one small room inside the Church of the Sacred Heart. But it is one of those little-known places that make for an interesting visit and many visitors to the Eternal City have never even heard of it.

It is a teaching of the Catholic Church that souls go to Purgatory to be purified of any remaining sins before entering the sinless place of heaven.  The Faithful are encouraged to pray for the souls in purgatory, but there are also reports of those in purgatory perhaps returning the favor.  The book shown here gives a more detailed description of such reports. 

And it is here that the museum has its emphasis.  Calling it a museum is a bit misleading, since all the exhibits are contained in one glass case in a room next to the church.  

Among the items on display are the nightcap of a man who discovered his deceased wife's handprints on it asking him to pray for her. Another amazing item is a book of belonging to a woman whose mother-in-law reportedly appeared to her and asked for two masses in her honor. After the wish was fulfilled, her hand print was found on the book as a message of thanksgiving

Others include a book with a handprint on it from a deceased priest and many other interesting items.  

It is only about 10 minutes from the Vatican and interesting to believers and even to non-believers.

The museum came about through the activities of a French missionary priest, Father Jouet. There was a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary and it caught fire due to the candles that surrounded it. Bystanders claimed to see the face of a man in the burning walls of the altar. Father Jouet was convinced that this was a message from a soul whose body was buried in the area and decided to build a church in that place to pay tribute to the souls in purgatory.

Getting there:
As you can see from the map, the musem is located at Lungotevere Prati, 12 in Rome. The phone is:+39 06 6880 6517.  When paying a visit you need to make an effort to find the museum as it is not widely noted in the Church. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. There may or may not be someone there to guide you.  

There is no official website for the Church or the museum. The museum is open whenever the Church is: from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.

Sources: 
1. the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2. Hungry Souls, Gerard/J.M. Van Den Aardueg, Tan Books, 2010

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