Roman Catholics believe in purgatory, which is a state of purgation in which our soul goes through before entering into the kingdom of God, but are there any Early Church Fathers who believed in the concept of purgatory?


2 Answers 2


Pohle-Preuss, Eschatology or the Catholic Doctrine of the Last Things: A Dogmatic Treatise, pt. 1, ch. 5 on purgatory:

Tertullian mentions anniversary masses for the dead.18 That he had Purgatory in mind appears from his advice to a widow, “to pray for the soul of her husband, begging repose for him, and … to have sacrifice offered up for him every year on the day of his death.”19


St. Basil affirms the existence of “a place for the purification of souls” and of “a cleansing fire.”22 St. Augustine appeals to his friends to pray for his pious mother, St. Monica, and instructs them as to the most effective way of helping her soul.23 There is no doubt,” he says in another place, “that the dead are aided by the prayers of holy Church, by the salutary sacrifice, and by the alms which are poured out for their souls.”24

18. De Corona Mil., 3: “Oblationes pro defunctis annuâ die facimus.”
19. De Monogamia, 10: “Debet pro anima eius orare et refrigerium interim adpostulare ei et … offerre annuis diebus dormitionis suae.”—For other Patristic testimonies see Pohle-Preuss, The Sacraments, Vol. II, pp. 376 sq.
22. χωρίον καθαρισμοῦ ψυχῶν;—καθάρσιον πῦρ. (In Is., IX, 19).
23. Confess., IX, 13.
24. Sermones, 172: “Orationibus sanctae Ecclesiae et sacrificio salutari et elemosynis, quae pro eorum spiritibus erogantur, non est dubitandum mortuos adiuvari, ut cum eis misericordius agatur a Domino, quam eorum peccata meruerunt; hoc enim a Patribus traditum universa observat Ecclesia.” (Cfr. the same writer’s Enchirid., 60).—The argument from Tradition is developed more fully by Pesch, Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. IX, 2nd ed., pp. 283 sqq.


ChurchFathers.org has a section on Purgatory, containing quotes from Sts. Augustine, Cyprian of Carthage, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom.

Here are some brief tidbits:

"Prayer, however, is offered for other dead who are remembered. It is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended" -St. Augustine

"Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them" -St. John Chrysostom

"It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord" -St. Cyprian


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