Saturday, July 24, 2010

Christina the Astonishing: A Mission of Suffering for Souls in Purgatory

Christina the Astonishing (1150 – 1224), also known as Christina Mirabilis, was a Christian holy-woman born in Brustem (near Sint-Truiden, Belgium) in 1150. She is sometimes considered a saint. Christina is as much remembered for her faith as for her numerous and violent fits of ecstasy. Her memorial day is 24 July. Born a peasant, Christina was orphaned at 15. When she was 21 (22 according to some sources), she is said to have suffered a massive seizure. According to the story, her condition was so severe that witnesses assumed she had died. A funeral was held, but during the service, she "arose full of vigor, stupefying with amazement the whole city of St Trond, which had witnessed this wonder." She levitated up to the rafters, later explaining that she could not bear the smell of the sinful people there.[2] Then, "The astonishment increased when they learned from her own mouth what had happened to her after her death."

She related that she had witnessed heaven, hell, and purgatory. It is written that she said "As soon as my soul was separated from my body it was received by angels who conducted it to a very gloomy place, entirely filled with souls" where the torments there that they endured "appeared so excessive" that it was "impossible to give an idea of their rigor."

She continued,"I saw among them many of my acquaintances" and touched deeply by their sad condition asked if this was Hell, but was told that it was Purgatory. Her angel guides brought her to Hell where again she recognized those she had formerly known. Next she was transported to Heaven, "even to the Throne of Divine Majesty" where she was "regarded with a favorable eye" and she experienced extreme joy and these words were spoken to her, " Assuredly, My dear daughter, you will one day be with Me. Now, however, I allow you to choose, either to remain with Me henceforth from this time, or to return again to earth to accomplish a mission of charity and suffering. In order to deliver from the flames of Purgatory those souls which have inspired you with so much compassion, you shall suffer for them upon earth: you shall endure great torments, without however dying from their effects. And not only will you relieve the departed, but the example which you will give to the living, and your continual suffering, will lead sinners to be converted and to expiate their crimes. After having ended this new life, you shall return here laden with merits."

Christina, at hearing this and "seeing the great advantages for souls" without hesitation she agreed to return to life and arose that same moment. She told those around her that for the sole purpose of relief of the departed and conversion of sinners did she return and that none should be astonished at the penances that she would practice, nor the life that she would lead hence forth, she is quoted as saying, "It will be so extraordinary that nothing like it has ever been seen." Making penances for the souls of Purgatory ... would henceforth become a major theme in her life.

Christina immediately commenced the work for which she believed she had been sent by God, renouncing all comforts of life, reducing herself to extreme destitution, she lived without home or hearth, and not content with privations she eagerly sought all that could cause her suffering.

As chronicled by her contemporaries, she threw herself into burning furnaces and there suffered great tortures for extended time uttering frightful cries, yet coming forth with no sign of burning upon her. In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours and days and weeks at a time all the while praying to God and imploring His Mercy. She would hop around on one leg exclaiming "Look upon me o Lord, for I am like unto a flamingo." She allowed herself to be carried by the currents down river to the mill where the wheel "whirled her round in a manner frightful to behold" yet she had no dislocations or broken bones. She was chased by dogs that bit and tore her flesh. She ran from them into thickets of thorns, and though covered in blood she would return with no wound or scar.

Christina died in 1224 of natural causes, aged 74.

Source of information

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