Museum of the Souls in Purgatory: where Spiritual Meets Supernatural

Nicole Campisano (April 12, 2018)
The Church of the Sacred Heart of Suffrage in Rome offers a unique experience with its museum, the Museum of the Souls in Purgatory. This museum displays the images of souls trying to reach out to the living.

In Rome on the banks of the Tiber, lies the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Suffrage. This neo-Gothic church is beautifully unassuming harboring a 100-year-old museum of trapped souls.

The “Museo delle anime del Purgatorio,” or the Museum of the Souls in Purgatory, has a collection of photos documenting the presence of souls in purgatory trying to reach out to the living.  According to Catholicism, the dead stuck in purgatory need prayers, so that they can be purified and move on to heaven.

Reaching out to the Living

This museum has attracted religious pilgrims, and curious tourists alike who are captivated by the notion of the dead among the living.  The history of the reliquary dates back to a fire in 1897.  Caused by candles, the fire revealed a shocking observation.

Father Andrea Ruiu, the deputy parish priest, narrates: "on the wall, an image remained of a suffering face that was read as a prayer request from a soul in purgatory."  Father Jouet, who originally purchased the land for the church, “began collecting proof and examples from all across Europe of souls who manifested themselves to the living to obtain prayers or celebrations of Mass to purify themselves."  

Other documents in the museum include the imprint of fingers on Maria Zaganti’s prayer book (1871), and a photo of a deceased mother’s imprint left on her son’s sleeve in Belgium (1789).  There are also spiritual happenings that occur to visitors.  Father Ruiu explains that “many of the people who come here have dreamt of a dead person after having prayed.”

A Unique Experience

Praying for the souls in purgatory is an important aspect within the Catholic Church.  The scorched marks and imprints that are collected by the museum are seen as a sign that these trapped souls are asking for the living to help them. Whether you visit for religious reasons or not, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Suffrage is a beautiful, and interesting landmark to experience.