How to help our faithful departed

November is traditionally dedicated to the holy souls in purgatory. After commemorating all the saints on 1 November, we commemorate, the following day, all those faithful departed who are pardoned but still suffering purgatory.

For a timely recollection of the Church’s teaching on purgatory, we heartily recommend the excellent catechetical summary by Fr Thomas Crean. In elucidating the relationship between the holy souls and the rest of the Church, Fr Crean concludes:

“Many souls may be like the paralytic in the Gospel who was lying on the edge of the pool for 38 years, waiting for someone to carry him into the water. We help them greatly by having Mass said, but also by attending a Mass, making the stations, fasting and forgiving wrongs done to us.”

In addition to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for the repose of their souls, there are many prayers and devotions in the treasury of the Church to help our dear faithful departed. 

One powerful prayer was composed by the last Father of the Latin Church, Pope Saint Gregory the Great (c. 540–604), whose eloquence and fervour for the plight of souls in purgatory helped the devotion of succouring them to spread. It is believed that, if this prayer is recited every day for an entire month, the particular soul for whom it is prayed will be freed from purgatory that same day, even if it had been sentenced to remain there until the day of judgment.


Prayer of St Gregory the Great for the souls in purgatory

I. O Lord Jesus Christ, may this prayer be offered in praise of Thy last agony, of all the wounds, sorrows, sweat and pain that Thou suffered on Calvary for love of us. I beseech Thee to offer all Thy sweat, Thy Blood, and Thy wounds to the heavenly Father for the sins committed by the soul of N.
Pater, Ave, and Requiem

II. O Lord Jesus Christ, may this prayer be offered in praise of Thy last agony, of the great pains, the martyrdom, and of all that Thou hast suffered for us, especially when Thy Heart was pierced. I beseech you to offer Thy martyrdom and pains to the heavenly Father for all the sins committed by the soul of N. in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions.
Pater, Ave, and Requiem

III. O Lord Jesus Christ, may this prayer be offered in praise of the great love Thou hast for mankind and which made Thee to come from Heaven to earth to suffer pains, martyrdom, and death itself. For that love by which Thou opened Paradise to mankind, who had lost it through sin, deign to offer to Thy heavenly Father Thy infinite merits to liberate the soul of N. from all the pains of purgatory.
Pater, Ave, and Requiem


My Most Beloved Jesus, I offer Thee the soul of N. and I implore for it, one by one, all the trials, sufferings, deeds, virtues, merits, supplications, sighs and groans of Thy most holy life, Thy most painful Passion and Death on the Cross, the Sacred Blood that Thou shed for our salvation and Redemption, with all the merits of Thy Divine Heart, of Mary Most Holy, of St Joseph and of all the Saints. Amen.