Do some people actually see the souls of the departed?
This question comes up after a recent conversation with a woman from Australia named Valentina Papagna [see current "special report"], originally from Slovenia, who says that in addition to visions -- actually, apparitions -- of Mary and Jesus, she frequently, just about daily, encounters souls who are in purgatory or roaming the earth and in need of prayer.
"I could see souls and would tell my mom things," she asserts, for our considered judgment, when asked about it.
"This started when I was probably seven or eight, maybe younger.
"She would say, later in the day, 'Gosh, what you told me this morning -- the person did die!'
"The person I saw had died that day.
"I could see a lot of shadows in my room when I was sleeping.
"It was mostly every day that I would see these people, sometimes plunging toward a great darkness -- it must be very low purgatory. I could see a spark and then like a black shadow falling in."
Dark shadows? They always threw Holy Water, says this humble-sounding woman, now in her seventies; and as a family they'd said a nightly Rosary, or Valentina would pray with her grandmother.
"I could see the fire and the souls swarming in," added Valentina, on the phone last week. (Much to discern here!) "Blessed Mother said, 'I don't mean to scare you, but you must see the reality.' The Lord would take me on a tour of these things, and He explained how close the lowest part of purgatory is to Hell."
And hell, Valentina saw, is certainly for real. "The Blessed Mother told me that in hell, there is no way out," says Valentina. "It is for those who don't want to know the love of God. They are really angry and really hate us, very bad hatred. They look like demons -- they are not normal people. They go around the world, tormenting people, while purgatory is more of an even way."
As we'll explore, perhaps in a future "special report," she claims (and it's quite a claim; very controversial) that she has seen a number of famous people -- celebrities -- in various states of the afterlife; mostly, not pleasant ones.
A leader of a European nation whom she thought to have been in hell due to his Communism was instead in the dark of deepest purgatory, not a picnic, but better than hell; begging for intercession; all souls in purgatory ask our prayers and sacrifices (according to her reckoning). He was pleading for help and freedom.
This brings to mind other alleged mystics such Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929), who as our friend Glenn Dallaire points out, kept a diary of the appearances of the souls in Purgatory to her, some likewise prominent.
Eugenie was a well educated woman of high German nobility; in fact Eugenie bore the title of princess and lived in the ancestral castle at Waal, Bavaria, Germany. By order of her confessor, she kept diary of her contacts with the poor souls, which after her death was handed over to Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.
And some of those visits were horrifying, for the purgatorial souls were in a beastly state, as Valentina has also been greatly disturbed from some alleged visitations, including, purportedly, those well-known people: She claims to have seen a famous singer who spent more than two decades in purgatory, and a more recent rock musician who was in such a hideous state -- had such a frightening countenance -- that at first she thought it was an evil spirit (and used Holy Water).
Another mystic, Maria Simma of Austria, likewise claimed she saw well-known souls of the departed, in great need of supplication. (See: Amazing Secrets of the Souls in Purgatory).
It goes without saying -- though it is good to repeat, even ad nauseum -- that we have to be careful with such matters. There can be imaginings. There can be deception. Much to discern here, indeed.
But a major part of her mission, says Valentina, as have those other mystics through the centuries, is praying for all souls who have not entered Heaven.
These souls, she says, spot and seek help from people to whom the light of prayer is flowing.
"There are different purgatories, according to the way you live on earth," explains Valentina. "Three or four levels I have seen, the last close to Heaven, the bottom one very near hell -- just that the soul didn't fall into hell.
"But they are in total darkness.
"Most of time souls go through a tunnel of darkness.
"They must learn to love God."
Middle purgatory, claims Valentina's, is like a "warehouse" with people shuffling about, doing some kind of chore and often praying for those on earth. Over and over, some must repeat their cardinal imperfection until releasing it.
We must not only confess obvious sins but purge the wrongful patterns that cause them or any imperfection (God forgives each sin when confessed; it is the pattern, constantly repeating a fault, that gets us into purgatory). Those who scoff at such things, or believe all they have to do is attend church, may find themselves surprised some day.
In purgatory, we are bound to what we are attached to on earth -- chained to it, sometimes literally, until it is purged; until we free ourselves from such attachment (particularly, she says, material things). "If people don't pray, they can be there or centuries and centuries."
As for the earthbound -- or those doing purgatory on earth (seen by many historic saints and mystics, especially Saint Padre Pio) -- she says: "When people die they get very confused and run everywhere because they still think they are alive and are attached to worldly things, so they hang around here as a ghost.
"The angel told me that most people go to purgatory. You have to give account when you die for every little thing. For me it was tasting fruit at the store: The Blessed Mother showed me that this was wrong, that I was taking what was not mine."
For discernment. (Valentina's archdiocese has not ruled on her authenticity and perhaps never will.)
"They feel pain more than we do in reality," says the reputed seer of souls she has witnessed. "Blessed Mother and Saint Michael go [to purgatory] to speak with [the souls] and offer them encouragement. Down there it is like you go underground to get a train." Sparks in the dark. "I would see like matches -- oh my!
"God wants us to be perfect, hundred percent clean, before entering Heaven," notes Valentina. "On Easter Sunday this year the Blessed Mother took me and showed me the people I had prayed for, and they were all dressed in white with blue ribbons or some kind of -- like the Legion of Mary, with ribbons around the neck, and so anxious to get to Heaven.
"Blessed Mother was so very very happy and she told me most people go to Heaven on Christmas and Easter time.
"They are all dressed beautifully. They had to wait until an exact moment. It still looked sort of like earthly -- no trees or many houses, sort of bare -- but like sunshine [this foyer of paradise].
"When they are in purgatory, they are like underground, in the dark.
"These souls were so happy. A couple hundred, four by four in a procession."