How to Help Free the Souls in Purgatory

Praying for the dead is an obligation that even Catholics often neglect.

Antonio María Esquivel, “Ánimas del Purgatorio”, 1850
Antonio María Esquivel, “Ánimas del Purgatorio”, 1850 (photo: Public Domain)

We can wield unimaginable power for the souls in purgatory during the week of All Souls Day, from Nov. 1-8. If we visit a cemetery and pray for a soul in purgatory, they a can be released by us; one on every one of those days. That is no small thing.

Imagine a soul’s euphoria to be suddenly bailed out of prison and taken to heaven. I know imagination is inadequate to comprehend such a moment, but still, it is a joy to partake in God’s mercy.

All Souls Day commemorates all who have died and are now are in Purgatory, being purified to atone for sins before reaching Heaven—where nothing unclean can enter (Revelation 21:27). There are plenary indulgences (meaning get out of purgatory now!) attached to All Souls Day for visiting a cemetery obtained from Nov. 1-8, and as a partial indulgence during the rest of the year.

Praying for the dead is an obligation that even Catholics often neglect. So, it is a practice we should dedicate our lives to since, (1) They so desperately want to get out of Purgatory and (2) One day it might be us wanting our freedom so to do unto others…

The whole month of November has been dedicated by the Church to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. A good one to recite for them is Eternal Rest.


To obtain the plenary indulgence on Nov. 1-8

As with all plenary indulgences, we must receive Communion for each day we plan to gain the indulgence and pray one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Holy Father each day we perform the work of the indulgence. We must also go to Confession sometime within about 20 days before or after. One confession is good for all indulgences earned during that time. 

Initially, upon learning of this opportunity to free souls, I delighted in knowing that God gave us this power to help speed souls to him to begin their eternity in heaven. Granting an early release to paradise is no small thing. It could be us one day in that situation. Such imaginings transform simple delight at the favor we can bestow on souls, to the realization that failing to act means missing out on the power God has offered us to help his beloved souls in Purgatory. We should be hard-pressed not to do this and share the information with others. Let’s join forces and free a multitude!

Another way to be devoted to the souls in purgatory that you can do anytime during the year is to join The Releasers. It’s inspiration to help souls waiting to be freed from suffering. Here is how to participate:

First, pray the St. Gertrude prayer as often as you can every day: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, those in the Universal Church, in my home, and in my family. Amen.”

St. Gertrude showed “tender sympathy toward the souls in purgatory” and urged prayers for them. Our Lord showed St. Gertrude a vast number of souls leaving Purgatory and going to Heaven as a result of this prayer, which the Saint was accustomed to say frequently during the day. (Taken from the booklet Read Me or Rue It by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan.)

Second, offer sacrifices or add to your intentions of the Mass or the Rosary for the release of all the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Third, sign up to officially join The Releasers.