Fr. Shouppe relates the true occurrence of Teresa Gesta, a Franciscan Nun in Foligno, Italy, who had for many years been a mistress of novices, a model of piety and charity, who died suddenly on November 4, 1859. Just twelve days later her soul appeared to Sister Anna Felicia in the sacristy of Convent. Sister Felicia described it:
“Then the room was filled with a thick smoke, and the spirit of Sister Teresa appeared, moving towards the door and gliding along by the wall. Having reached the door, she cried aloud, ‘Behold a proof of the mercy of God.’
“Saying these words, she struck the upper panel of the door and there left the print of her right hand, burnt in the wood as with a red-hot iron. She, then, disappeared.” (ibid, p. 55)
Because of this apparition, Teresa Gesta’s body was exhumed to check the hand of the deceased, unusual for its very small size, it fitted perfectly into the impressed hand print. This occurrence is well documented. If you pay a visit to that Convent today, you would find that very handprint on the upper panel of the door of the Chapel.
As Fr. Schouppe observed, “In giving us a warning of this kind, God shows us a great mercy. He urges us, in the most efficacious manner, to assist the poor suffering souls, and to be vigilant in our regard.” (ibid, p.57)
God allows us these proofs of His mercy to give us hope. Many people have a negative view of Purgatory, but the reality is that Purgatory is one of the greatest gifts of God. For those who believe in God and accept the Redemption of Christ, but struggle to live a full life of virtue there is always the hope of Heaven through Purgatory.