The Funeral of Saint Odilo of Cluny, Jan Henryk Rosen, 1920

Catherine–Mectilde de Bar was known for her confidence in the Holy Souls of Purgatory; she considered communion with the Holy Souls an integral part of her Institute’s life. In this Mother Mectilde reveals her profound identification with the ancient Benedictine tradition of offering suffrages for the faithful departed. It was Saint Odilo of Cluny (962–1049) who established All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) in his abbey and in all the priories of Cluny. The practice spread throughout the whole Western church. The Holy Souls are ever in need of our prayers on their behalf, and we, in our difficilties, are ever in need of their intercession. Mother Mectilde writes:

I have also to remind you to forget not the Holy Souls of Purgatory. You will pray for their solace. They took such great care of our house; you know how they sustained us in the beginning. They help us still with their protection. They are in great need. Help them by doing acts of virtue for them. They are not in Purgatory for having practiced acts of virtue, but for having omitted them. You would not believe, then, how much the acts that we do for them relieve them, more even than prayers and the Office of the Dead. An act of charity, a renouncement of ourselves, a word from which we abstain in an annoying situation; [these things] are of great help to them. This is why I enjoin you not to let a single day of this year pass, even a single day of your life, without performing an act with this intention. You will see that they are not ungrateful. They will pray to God for you and will draw down upon you His graces and His mercies. Being in God’s grace, He listens to the prayers of the Holy Souls and hears them in our favour. (Conference 41)