Helpers of the Holy Souls Home banner
Helpers of the Holy Souls God's guest of Tomorrow:
Heaven can't wait!
Home Page Our Patron Purgatory Q&A Why we should Help Ways to Help Purgatory Corner Start your own
Spacer The First Christians on Spacer
Spacer Scriptural Basis for Spacer
Spacer Other Holy Souls sites Spacer
Spacer Churches named after Spacer
Spacer Recommended Reading 
Books in Print
Books out of Print
Spacer Spacer Spacer

The Prisoners of the King

Questions or concerns about Purgatory?The Prisoners of the King, By Fr. Henry James Coleridge, S.J., 1822-1893


This century-old source book covers the topic more authoritatively than any other.


Purgatory is denied by Protestants, and down played by many modern churchmen. Accurate knowledge about it can be difficult to come by. Belief in it is all but extinct. That’s why the re-publication of this 1889 masterwork by H.J. Coleridge, SJ, is so timely and necessary. At once a work of apologetics, catechesis and spirituality, it successfully defends the doctrine of Purgatory against critics, answers all the common questions, and draws out the implications for you -- and for those who depend on your intercessory prayers. As Fr. Coleridge explains:

“The more we know about Purgatory, the more we shall fear it, and the more store we shall set by anything that can deliver us from its pains.”

    • Evidence from the Gospels that Our Lord desires faith in Purgatory and intercessory prayer.
    • Other New Testament passages that dramatically illustrate the doctrine.
    • How Purgatory glorifies God’s justice, holiness and mercy. How it honors our Lord as Redeemer.
    • God’s requirement of purity in those who see Him in Heaven
    • Who can be admitted to Purgatory -- and who cannot.
    • How the particular punishments in Purgatory are “carefully measured and adapted” to each sin of each kind.
    • The various degrees of punishment in Purgatory, depending on — the number, type and gravity of unrepentant sins.
    • The differences between various classes of souls in Purgatory.
    • The “pain of sense” in Purgatory: what it will be like. How we know for certain that it will be severe and intense.
    • The “pain of loss”: 4 types, and their effects.
    • Duration of the pains of Purgatory.
    • and more!




The form in which these thoughts on the doctrine of Purgatory are put forth in this volume is accidental, and I am well aware that it cannot claim to present to the reader a well arranged treatise on the great subject with which it deals. Two or three years ago it fell to my lot, in conjunction with a dear friend and brother in religion, who is now, I trust, at rest with God, to preach during the Octave with which the Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls is accustomed to celebrate the annual Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.
It occurred to me that some of the miracles of our Lord might be usefully applied in illustration of the doctrine of Purgatory, and thus the substance of some few of the chapters of this book was put together. At the beginning of the present year I began a series of papers on the same subject in the Messenger of the Sacred Heart - a religious magazine the existence of which we owe to the zeal and exertions of the widely loved and valued priest of whom I have already spoken.

The work has grown under my hands, and it seemed better to finish it at once, in order that it might perhaps be of some little use in promoting the devotion of which it mainly treats during the month which Catholics constantly consecrate to the relief of the Holy Souls. About a third of the contents of this volume has appeared in the Messenger of the Sacred Heart.


Although the form in which this book is cast almost of necessity precludes the regular and orderly treatment of the doctrine of Purgatory, I am in hopes that no considerable point connected with that doctrine has been altogether passed over. I have found much help from two books which are not very widely known to readers on the subject the two Sagri Trigesimi on Purgatory preached by Pope Benedict XIII. when Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna-in which the whole doctrine of 81. Thomas is illustrated with great erudition-and the Patrocinium Defunctorum of Father Hautin. I have not thought it necessary to specify all my obligations to these and other writers, in a work the object of which is simply to promote intelligent devotion, written at intervals of time and under circumstances which forbade any unnecessary exertion.


What is new in this volume is chiefly the application of the successive miracles of our Lord to various points of the doctrine of Purgatory. Our Lord's miracles were almost universally acts of mercy as well as proofs of authority, and thus it is natural to find that they are full of teaching as to the various spiritual miseries of souls and His tenderness in succoring them. The Holy Souls are sufferers to a degree and in a manner which are but faintly pictured in the bodily maladies which our Lord so lovingly relieved, and they are sufferers whose case He has left very much to the charity of the children of the Militant Church. His Sacred Heart looked further than the outward disease or privation for which He used His healing or restoring power, and, if it is most natural to consider all bodily evils as shadows and images by which spiritual infirmities are represented, it is not any exaggerated extension of the same principle of accommodation to consider the sufferings of Purgatory, all of which are caused by sin or negligence, as included under it. And no phase or department of Christian devotion can ever lose by being connected in any way with considerations on the acts and sayings of our Lord.


Feast our Most Holy Redeemer, 1878.



    Table of Contents


    CHAPTER I. — The Desire of our Lord that the Holy Souls should be released from Purgatory even before the time.

    (The Miracle at Cana of Galilee.)
    St. John 2:1-10

    CHAPTER II. — Purity required by God in those who see Him in Heaven.

    (The Cleansing of the Temple.)
    St. John 3:13-19.

    CHAPTER III. Devotion to Purgatory as an Exercise of Faith.

    (The Healing of the Ruler's Son.)
    St. John 4:46-53

    CHAPTER IV. Gratitude of the Holy Souls for their deliverance from Hell.

    (Our Lord's escape from His enemies at Nazareth.)
    Luke 4:28-30

    CHAPTER V. The Holy Souls and the Evil Spirits.

    (The Demoniac in the Synagogue.)
    St. Mark 1: 23-29; St. Luke 4:33-37

    CHAPTER VI. The Holy Souls and the Saints.

    (The Healing of St. Peter's Mother-in-law.)
    Matthew 8:14,15; St. Mark 1:21-31; St. Luke 4:38,39

    CHAPTER VII. Promptitude in Assisting the Holy Souls.

    (Cures wrought on the evening of the Sabbath.)
    Matthew 8:16-18; St. Mark 1:32-34; St. Luke 4:40,41

    CHAPTER VIII. The Church on Earth and the Holy Souls.

    (The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.)
    St. Luke 5:1-11

    CHAPTER IX. Duration of the pains of Purgatory.

    (The Healing of the Leper.)
    Matthew 8:2-4; St. Mark 1:40-45; St. Luke 5:12-16

    CHAPTER X. The Holy Souls and the Sacrament of Penance.

    (The Healing of the Paralytic.)
    Matthew 9:1-6; St. Mark 2:1-14; St. Luke 5:17-26

    CHAPTER XI. The application of our Suffrages to certain Souls in particular.

    (Cure of the Man at the Probatic Pool.)
    St. John 5:1-15

    CHAPTER XII. The Holy Souls specifically helped by Prayers on Festivals and Anniversaries.

    (The Cure of the Man with the Withered Hand.)
    Matthew 7:2-12; St. Mark 3:1-6; St. Luke 6:6-11

    CHAPTER XIII. The Holy Souls specifically helped by works for the Service of the Church.

    (The Healing of the Centurion's servant.)
    Matthew 8:1-15; St. Luke 7:1-10

    CHAPTER XIV. Our Blessed Lady and the Holy Souls.

    (The Raising of the Widow's Son.)
    St. Luke 7:11-16

    CHAPTER XV. Our Lord's Mission to Purgatory.

    (The Miracles wrought before the Disciples of John the Baptist.)
    Matthew 11:2-6; St. Luke 7:17-23

    CHAPTER XVI. The Desire of the Holy Souls for the Society of Heaven.

    (The Cure of the Dumb and Blind Demoniac.)
    Matthew 7:22, 23; St. Mark 3:22-

    CHAPTER XVII. Peace of the Holy Souls.

    (Stilling the Tempest.)
    Matthew 7:23-27; St. Mark 4:36-40; St. Luke 8:22-25

    CHAPTER XVIII. Contrast between Purgatory and Hell.

    (The Casting Out of the Legion of Devils.)
    Matthew 8:28-34 and 9,1; St. Mark 5:1-21; St. Luke 8:26-41

    CHAPTER XIX. The Sense of Shame in Purgatory.

    (The Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood.)
    Matthew 9:19-22; St. Mark 5:24-34; St. Luke 8:42-48

    CHAPTER XX. The Pain of Sense in Purgatory.

    (The Raising to Life of the Daughter of Jairus.)
    Matthew 9:18-26; St. Mark 5:22-43; St. Luke 8:41-56

    CHAPTER XXI. The Eternal Losses of the Holy Souls.

    (The Last Cures at Capharnaum.)
    Matthew 9:27-34

    CHAPTER XXII. Purgatory and Natural Piety.

    (The Miracles wrought at Nazareth.)
    Matthew 8:54-58; St. Mark 5:1-6

    CHAPTER XXIII. The Holy Souls and the Sacrifice of the Altar.

    (The Feeding of the Five Thousand.)
    Matthew 14:13-21; St. Mark 6:30-44; St. Luke 9:10-17; St. John 6:1-13

    CHAPTER XXIV. Pre-eminence of Charity to the Holy Souls.

    (Our Lord walking on the Waters.)
    Matthew 14:22-36; St. Mark 6:45-56; St. John 6:14-21

    CHAPTER XXV. Privileges of the Children of God.

    (The Healing of the Daughter of the Syrophoenician Woman.)
    Matthew 15:21-28; St. Mark 7:24-30

    CHAPTER XXVI. Particular Punishments in Purgatory.

    (Cure of the Deaf and Dumb in Decapolis.)
    St. Mark 7:31-37

    CHAPTER XXVII. The Holy Souls relieved by Holy Communion.

    (The Feeding of the Four Thousand.)
    Matthew 15:29-39; St. Mark 8:1-19

    CHAPTER XXVIII. Degrees of Punishment in Purgatory.

    (The Cure of the Blind Man at Bethsaida.)
    St. Mark 8:22-26

    CHAPTER XXIX. The Holy Souls helped by Prayer and Fasting.

    (The Cure of the Lunatic Boy.)
    St. Mark 9:16-28

    CHAPTER XXX. Union between the Holy Souls and Our Lord.

    (Our Lord praying the Didrachma.)
    Matthew 17:23-26

    CHAPTER XXXI. The Pain of Loss. 1. Loss of the Beatific Vision.

    (The Cure of the Man born Blind)
    St. John 9:1-7

    CHAPTER XXXII. The Pain of Loss. 2. Loss of the Love of God.

    (The Cure of the Mute Demoniac.)
    St. Luke 11:14-26

    CHAPTER XXXIII. The Pain of Loss. 3. The Loss of the Joy of Heaven.

    (The Cure of the Woman with a Spirit of Infirmity.)
    St. Luke 13:10-17

    CHAPTER XXXIV. The Pain of Loss. 4. Causes of Sorrow to the Holy Souls.

    (The Cure of the Man with Dropsy.)
    St. Luke 14:1-6

    CHAPTER XXXV. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament for the Holy Souls.

    (The Healing of the Ten Lepers.)
    St. Luke 17:11-19

    CHAPTER XXXVI. Purgatory and the Glory of God.

    (The Raising of Lazarus.)
    St. John 11:1-44

    CHAPTER XXXVII. Diligence in relieving the Holy Souls.

    (The Cure of the Blind Man at Jericho.)
    Matthew 20:29-341; St. Mark 10:46-52; St. Luke 18:35; 19:1

    CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Angels and the Holy Souls.

    (Miracles on Palm Sunday)
    Matthew 21:14-17

    CHAPTER XXXIX. Fasting and Almsdeeds.

    (The Withering of the Fig Tree.)
    Matthew 21:19; St. Mark 11:13,14,20

    CHAPTER XL. Forgiveness of Injuries.

    (The Healing of Malchus.)
    St. Luke 22:51

    CHAPTER XLI. The Treasure of the Church.

    (Our Lord's Last Miracle on the Lake.)
    St. John 21:1-19