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Church Suffering refers to the Holy Souls in Purgatory who are undergoing final purification before entering the Kingdom of Heaven.What are Gregorian Masses for the Church Suffering? Gregorian Masses are special Masses offered for a deceased person for 30 consecutive days. The purpose of Gregorian Masses is to help obtain the deliverance of a soul from Purgatory. This goal is made possible through the dispensation of God’s mercy.

Belief in the power of Gregorian Masses is based on a private revelation made to Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as Pope Saint Gregory the Great. According to Servant of God Father John Hardon, S.J., “The Church has declared that the special effectiveness of Gregorian Masses is both pious and reasonable. More than one series of Masses may be offered (for a soul), but not more than one person at a time (per series).”


Gregorian Masses are rooted in the Catholic Church’s teaching on Purgatory. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: All those who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter into the joy of heaven. (CCC 1030)

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this process of purification. For a scriptural reference, please read Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

Saint Monica

Saint Monica was the mother of Saint Augustine, the famous Church Father and writer. Her prayers brought to the Catholic Faith both her husband and her older son Augustine. Before Saint Monica died, her younger son wanted to know where she desired to be buried. Monica said to her two sons, “Lay my body wherever it may be. Let no care of it disturb you. Only this I ask of you: always remember me at the Altar of the Lord.”

Saint Augustine later wrote: Whom do you miss the most, to whom do you wish you could have done more? Have a Mass offered for them! Ask the Heavenly Father every time you attend Mass to grant you a holy death, to die in the state of grace, and to avoid Purgatory.

The words of Augustine, who died in 430 A.D., and Monica, who died in 387 A.D., disprove the contention that offering Masses for the dead was a Catholic medieval innovation. Even before Augustine and Monica, we have evidence from Christians in Rome who were buried in the underground passageways known as the catacombs. Inscriptions in the catacombs ask for prayers for the deceased Christians buried there.

Saint Jerome was a contemporary of Saint Augustine and the greatest Bible scholar of the early Church. He wrote: Souls are cleansed by purgatorial pains after death. In order that they may be rescued from their pain, they are benefited by the suffrages of the living faithful, namely the Sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, alms, and other works of piety.

If a single Mass contributes greatly in relieving the sufferings of a departed soul, how much greater the efficacy of 30 Gregorian Masses!

Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Gregorian Masses are named after Pope Saint Gregory I. According to tradition, Our Lord appeased to Pope Gregory and said to him, “All souls in Purgatory for whom 30 consecutive Masses are offered will immediately be relieved, however great their temporal punishment.”

Similarly, in the writings of Pope Gregory, he explains that the soul of a monk appeared to him, and the monk told him that had been liberated from Purgatory after 30 Masses had been celebrated for his deliverance.

Why 30 Masses? Because Pope Gregory brought back the tradition from the Old Testament — Israelites mourned the dead for 30 days, such as for Moses and Aaron.

Regarding temporal punishment due to sin, this can be alleviated by indulgences. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1471):

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.

For example, Pope Francis granted a plenary indulgence opportunity for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions throughout the centennial year, November 27, 2016 through November 26, 2017. 

It is important to remember that God does not inflict tortures on the souls in Purgatory. Rather, He purifies them and heals them of their spiritual infirmities. Of course, this process can be painful, just as the healing of a physical defect or disease can be painful.

Divine Mercy

One of the more contemporary devotions of our Church is Divine Mercy. This devotion is based on revelations given by Our Lord Jesus to Sister Faustina, a Polish nun, in the 1930s. Jesus told Faustina that he preferred to be called by the name of Mercy more than any other name.

On one occasion, Our Lord said to Faustina, “Today, bring to me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory and immerse them in the abyss of my mercy. Let the torrents of my Blood cool down their scorching flames. It is in your power to bring them relief.”

Editor’s Note: For additional information, visit the website of Catholic author Susan Tassone, www.susantassone.com. Many of her writings have been incorporated into this article.

Also, to request Gregorian Masses for a dearly departed soul, please visit the website of the Missionaries of the Holy Family, www.msf-america.org, or call us toll free at 1-888-484-9945. God bless your family!


© Reverend James Beegan, M.S.F. Original article published in The Messenger magazine from the Missionaries of the Holy Family.

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