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Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by St. Gertrude the Great

Nov 10, 2016 By Gretchen Filz

According to tradition, St. Gertrude the Great was told by Our Lord that the following prayer, each time she piously recited it, would release 1,000 souls (or a vast number) from their suffering in purgatory:

"Eternal Father,

I offer You 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,

for those in my own home,

and in 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.

St. Gertrude Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

This prayer is contained in the book Prayers, Promises, and Devotions for Holy Souls in Purgatory  by Susan Tassone. However, it should be noted that this is not an officially indulgenced prayer, and the Vatican has declared that promises to obtain the release of a specific number of souls from purgatory with the recitation of a specific prayer should be rejected.

That should not weaken our resolve, however, from praying fervently for the Holy Souls in purgatory. The Church dedicates the entire month of November to praying in a special way for the Holy Souls (their feast day is November 2nd). You can easily memorize this popular prayer and include it after each decade of your rosary during November, or any time you wish to remember the faithful departed among your family and friends.

Continue reading 20 Ways to Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Famous prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory as taught by St. Gertrude the Great

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2014. © The Catholic Company


Please do not attack the messenger. The promise attached to this Saint Gertrude prayer of releasing 1,000 souls, despite the fact that you can find it everywhere on the internet, is false.

Evidently at the turn of the century, people were making-up pious lies like this, and the Vatican put an end to it--Pope Leo the XIII, more precisely, by declaring that ANY prayer--not just the false Saint Gertrude prayer-- that promises that a soul--one or more--are released from purgatory by praying it--all such prayers are condemned.

And condemned means condemned--one may not say the prayer at all. I know that people want to change the original prayer to make it acceptable--but I am not sure about that, either.

I feel your pain to those of you who are disappointed that you cannot say a prayer and release a soul from purgatory--but really--do we think so little of the debt owed to God for our sins that it could be so easily overcome so that one prayer could release a single soul--let alone thousands of souls? You have to admit that this false promise is too extreme to be true. Jesus told Sister Chambron that the Chaplet of the Holy Wounds was a treasure for the souls in Purgatory, and He also told Saint Faustina to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the souls in purgatory, but He never said anything about souls being released--such decisions are God's to make--we can only pray, make sacrifices, etc. God is merciful, and I am sure that prayers help the souls, perhaps some are released, but there is no guarantee as was proclaimed by the false Saint Gertrude prayer and similar false prayers. Helping souls in purgatory is not as ridiculously easy as the false Saint Gertrude prayer makes it to be.

Our prayers do help the souls and we do need to pray for them--praying approved prayers--acting in disobedience to the Church does not help the souls.
Hi J, the prayer itself is not condemned; rather the promise that it will release a specific number of souls - this is the error. Nevertheless, it could be true that Jesus made this promise to St. Gertrude specifically, that her prayers would have this effectiveness, but that doesn't mean that our prayers will have the same effect.
C-Marie says
Dec 4 2018 5:53PM
Having just read this prayer, I find it very interesting that Saint Gertrude included the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and sinners, her family, those in her own home, but not herself, if needed. Can we know that we do not need prayer?

God bless, C-Marie

P.S. I believe the fires of Purgatory are God's Love burning away all that needs to be cleansed away.
Hello C-Marie - I believe that the implied interpretation of "praying for sinners everywhere including those in one's home and family" would include oneself.
Barbara says
Nov 22 2018 10:26PM
I have a card with this prayer which says it is most powerful when said at the Comsecration of the Mass. and innumerable souls are released from purgatory at that time ( many more than when said at any other time). So I say it when the Chalice is raised at the Consecration
Denuta says
Nov 8 2018 1:37AM
Read the teachings of St. Theresa , the little Flower, on purgatory.

St. Theresa is a doctor of the Church, so her teachings are highly regarded. You will be shocked at what you a GOOD way.
marian says
Nov 5 2018 1:31PM
I am praying for souls of Norell Clady Sr and Jr today is my son birthday and tomorrow I went to be with the Lord many years ago.
Nicole says
Oct 22 2018 8:54PM
I’ve read every comment and I am so grateful for them. I am still, however, struggling to know how to pray for these “poor souls” whilst praying my rosary. Firstly, I am a relatively new Catholic so I am still learning & in great need of direction. I will endeavour to speak with my priest about this as well, but in the mean time, I felt the spirit of my grandmother tonight and a pressing in my heart to pray for her. I cannot explain it clearly, but I’m now searching for any prayers that can assist her. When praying my rosary (on any given day) do I simply insert St. Gertrude’s prayer between each ten Hail Mary’s? Do I pray the days mysteries on the rosary or are there other prayers in which I should replace them? Also, is praying in Latin more powerful?

I feel so silly asking these questions, but I know that one or more of you will be willing and able to offer sound advice or doctrine to help me on this journey as November quickly approaches... I would like to be geared up and ready to commit November to the praying for souls in need of our assistance.

In all hope and in His precious name,

Hello Nicole. How beautiful that you want to delve deeper into this devotion!
Many people pray for the holy souls during the rosary by adding "The Fatima prayer" at the end of each decade, after the Glory Be: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have the most need of your mercy." This is a prayer given to 3 shepherd children by Our Lady of Fatima just over 100 years ago. If you wish to add the St. Gertrude prayer at the end of each decade as well, then that is fine as well! There are no "wrong" times to pray St. Gertrude's prayer. :)
There is something to be said about Latin being the official language of the Church. However, we would recommend that you pray in whichever language is most reflective/helpful and least distracting for you. Just our two cents! God bless.
Gainor Hillegass says
Sep 28 2018 10:36PM
In the Old Testament, there is a phrase, "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead." It may not read exactly this way. There is an old saying, "Pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you". They are beyond praying for themselves. They are relying on our love and compassion to help shorten their "purging" of the effects of their sins, even though they may be totally forgiven them. There is the remission of sins and some consequences to be experienced as well as repair - reparation. They are suffering through not being totally free yet. However, they are happy knowing that eventually they will be in Heaven. It is up to Our Lord when a soul enters Heaven. It can happen right away, as in the crucifixion conversion of the Good Thief. We can offer our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings every day along with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated worldwide for the Holy Souls and for the living sinners on earth. We can be mindful all day long to bring ourselves into Jesus' presence and pray continuously from moment to moment. Every little act if done with love is a prayer, as St. Therese of Lisieux wrote. Remember that these souls are not dead, just their bodies, until the Final Judgement when Jesus will come again, separate those going to Heaven from those going to Hell. No Purgatory after that. My grandmother taught us that if we dream of departed loved ones or sense presence of any spirit, they are asking for our help.
sarah says
Sep 16 2018 11:39PM
If one person recites this prayer once and it releases 1000 holy souls from purgatory, why can't purgatory be emptied out if all Catholics pray this prayer once a day for their entire life. If only one Catholic prayed this prayer each day throughout their lifetime (averagely speaking), they could release from purgatory 21,900,000 holy souls . There are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide who could release 4,380,000,000,000,000 from purgatory. I believe that would empty purgatory. Unless of course it's true that this prayer doesn't release anyone from purgatory in which case I'm not sure why you're advocating praying a prayer that doesn't work.
Hello Sarah,
If you read back through the article, you'll see that this specific number is based on a tradition found in a private revelation, and that the Church has said we can't "guarantee" that saying a prayer will release a specific number of souls every time you say it.

The "spirit" or bigger idea/intention behind this prayer/revelation is that
1) The Holy Souls need our prayers.
2) Prayer is powerful, especially when combined with sacrifices and a life of virtue.
3) We as the Church Militant have the potential to help a vast number of souls by using the words Our Lord revealed to this holy woman.

Attaching a specific number to the prayer motivates us and shows us the powerful potential of our prayers. In fact, I believe that a pure prayer filled faith could release even MORE than 1,000 souls! So dream big and pray with every ounce of faith you have! Hope this helps give some clarification.
God bless!
Thank you Ashley Osmera. Your explanation of the difference between that way private revelation and public revelation is considered by the Church is helpful. I am saying the prayer and remain hopeful that the tradition is true and many souls in purgatory will be released by our prayers.
You're very welcome Tia!
Nandarani says
Aug 24 2018 12:06AM
Chiming in to agree with the one or more people who pointed out that sometimes the promises are not actually true. Don't want to rain on anyone's parade and do believe God sees the intent and devotion and concentration and takes all into account. The St. Michael Chaplet mentions in most places but not all that a third promise connected with it, as revealed to a nun - the history is easily found on line - is about releasing all the direct relatives of a prayer of the chaplet daily, from purgatory.

This didn't seem logical or plausible to me, and I since found elsewhere online that the church has condemned mass releases based on promises. We are, however, still told to pray for the holy souls rather than souls living.
Hello! We do specifically caution in the article that: "it should be noted that this is not an officially indulgenced prayer, and the Vatican has declared that promises to obtain the release of a specific number of souls from purgatory with the recitation of a specific prayer should be rejected. That should not weaken our resolve, however, from praying fervently for the Holy Souls in purgatory."
Here we see one of the differences between private revelation and publicly professed doctrine. We may use private revelations to strengthen our faith and devotional life, but the Church may not officially recognize or promote the revelations.
While praying for the Holy Souls is so important, we certainly want to pray for living souls as well! I think we would all agree that prayers for souls still living can help them to draw closer to God NOW and therefore perhaps even decrease any time spent in Purgatory before it even happens.
Sandra says
Aug 19 2018 10:38AM
I need prayers for my father Frank and brother Johnny. They were giving their last rites. My brother Mike dying in an accident, didn't receive his last rites, which scares me. I pray for all souls, but I need extra help for my father and brothers. Please add them to your prayer list. Thank you.
Richard says
Aug 1 2018 6:30PM
Julia and Ashley, hello! Thank you both for your thoughtful contributions to this important topic. I say the prayer mostly when I am driving instead of listening to the radio much is a bit if a penance for me since I love classical music. I want to help our brothers and sisters in Purgatory awaiting Heaven. Why not?? I have nothing better to do as I drive and I know they must appreciate me thinking about them even though we've never met. Maybe in Heaven we will be best friends. Our Lady of Medjugorje says, "Pray, pray, pray". Mother knows best. Peace. ?
Julia A. Eppen says
Jul 20 2018 1:22AM
I came across yyhis prayer ssnd have said it many times mentioning my ersonal family and my family who has already ppassed and gone to the Lord in Heaven!!!!! When I tead THat THE PRAYER WAS NOT BLESSED BY THE vatican my heart dropped and it saddened me a lot but I still continue to say it and it truly does make me feel good...PRAYERS I KNOW ARE

Very powerful to out GOD and his Son JESUS!!!! So I just feel they are being accepted aand picture people being released from Purgatory it is a very GOOD FEELING!!!!!!

In God & Jesus name

Cathy says
Jun 26 2018 1:21AM
Praying any prayer for the souls in purgatory is very powerful. I understood that they will pray for us. My family could use lots of prayers.
Thank you for sharing this powerful Prayer.

There are a number of ways to avoid or minimize the sufferings in purgatory which can be done only when we are alive.

I think we need to act fast for that.
I looked up that prayer in "The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great" the pdf. online search of its contents. And that prayer is no where to be found, nor anything like it, nor is there anything about any souls being released from Purgatory through any prayer of any kind.

This claim that there are so many souls in purgatory leads people to become complacent with their sins thinking surely they are saved if there are so many in purgatory, and not truly strive to sin no more, leaving them without true sorrow for their sin and lost from a lack of contrition. All of the saints, which speak about the quantity of the saved, say there are few saved, which is meant to bring on "fear of the Lord" fear of sin and its consequences, so we will truly strive to live the Word for the love of God and the salvation of our souls.

I recommend removing this false quote from St. Gertrude; it won't lead souls to Heaven.
Hi Michelle, not sure if you noticed these sections of the post:
According to tradition, St. Gertrude the Great was told by Our Lord that the following prayer, each time she piously recited it, would release 1,000 souls (or a vast number) from their suffering in purgatory...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 should be noted that this is not an officially indulgenced prayer, and the Vatican has declared that promises to obtain the release of a specific number of souls from purgatory with the recitation of a specific prayer should be rejected. That should not weaken our resolve, however, from praying fervently for the Holy Souls in purgatory.
In addition, even those who are truly sorry for their sins may still need significant purification in purgatory. It makes sense that their would be so many in Purgatory: according to statistics 105 people die every minute worldwide. That's more than 150,000 people per DAY! How many of those are ready to see God face to face at the moment on their death?!? I would say less rather than more.
Michael Godfrey says
May 18 2018 3:43PM
This is command of our Lord and the Mother most divine! We pray for all souls in Purgatory to find favour and Mercy of God that they may enter heaven. Help me pray for the soul of my Grandmother Ursula Nyaridi, Grandfather Gaitan Dianga and my great friend George Okendo. Eternal rest grant unto them Oh Lord , and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace -Amen
Michael Pantani says
Apr 12 2018 8:44PM
Has anyone heard of the 15prayers revealed by our lord to Saint Bridget for souls in purgatory and magnificent promises for the one who recites them!
Tony says
Mar 27 2018 2:47AM
Please pray for my father soul i know he is good but he is not very religous person though he believes in god. My fathers name is Rodolfo Vigo.


Sylvester ,shirley pany says
Mar 16 2018 3:07PM
Sylvester is going to pray for all souls in pougatory and for peace in in the world through our blessed mother
carli says
Mar 7 2018 7:22AM
Just say the prayer with Faith ! In the book "Get Us Out of Here" by Maria Simma, she relays from poor souls in purgatory, that 1) they often feel forgotten, 2) that they need our prayers, 3) that they can only pray for us now, and not themselves, 4) they are grateful for all prayers for their benefit!, and 5) any prayers not needed for the soul(s) we pray for, are distributed by Blessed Virgin Mary to OTHER souls, who do need it. So no prayers for poor souls are wasted. Since 1980's, Mary is appearing at Medjugorje, site chosen because Catholics there honor the graves of their deceased relatives, and pray Masses and other prayers for them, often, as part of their culture.
Ferny says
Mar 3 2018 12:20AM
Try , Saint Gregory Magno 9 prayers for Holy souls in purgatory.
Snake says
Mar 2 2018 2:11PM
Pater aeterne, offero tibi tuique Filii Pretiosissimi Sanguinis Iesu. Hodie per universum mundum una cum Missa dicitur pro omnibus animabus sanctis, in peccatoribus ubique, peccatoribus in universa Ecclesia, quae in et in domo sua, familia. Amen.
Mary says
Feb 26 2018 8:19PM






Lynn says
Feb 6 2018 2:19PM
If you believe that once passed you either go directly to Paradise or Hell (as the thief on the cross "today you will be with me in Paradise") then who am I to believe are these holy souls in Purgatory?

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Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at, she is also editor of the daily devotional email and author at She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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