According to tradition, Our Lord told St. Gertrude the Great that each time she piously recited the following prayer, it would greatly ease the suffering of those holy souls in purgatory:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
St. Gertrude the Great was a 13th-century German nun, writer, and mystic who was graced with many heavenly visions, including being one of the earliest mystics to whom Jesus encouraged a devotion to his Sacred Heart. It is recounted that Jesus showed her a vast number of souls entering heaven from purgatory as a result of her faithful and frequent recitation of this prayer.
We should note, however, that while this prayer has long been a part of our Catholic tradition, it is not officially indulgenced. This means that the Holy See has declared that we should reject any claims that a specific number of souls are released from purgatory with the recitation of the prayer. Nonetheless, the Church has always encouraged fervent prayer for those suffering in purgatory because our prayers help to alleviate their suffering.
Our response, then, should be to simply pray with fervor, and let God take care of the details!
You can easily memorize this popular prayer and recite it any time you wish to remember the faithful departed among your family and friends. Try adding it in after each decade of the Rosary, especially during November! The Church dedicates the entire month of November to praying for the Holy Souls; their particular feast day is November 2nd, All Souls Day.
What happens to a soul after death? What does the Church teach about purgatory? These beautiful teachings and more can be found in the series The Four Last Things: Journey of a Soul. What about things invisible—ghosts, angels, demons, and more? There are clear answers. Find them in our series Angels and the Supernatural.