Home People November 26: Stories that Inspire for the Month of the Holy Souls: The Weight of Indulgences

November 26: Stories that Inspire for the Month of the Holy Souls: The Weight of Indulgences

November 26: Stories that Inspire for the Month of the Holy Souls: The Weight of Indulgences

The book, The Month of the Holy Souls, presents daily considerations for the month of November in the form of meditations and practical examples. The example for today is as follows.



A Religious, of the Order of St. Francis, concluded an eloquent sermon on almsgiving, by granting his hearers an indulgence of ten days, having received the necessary faculties for so doing. A lady of rank who had been present at the sermon, and who found herself reduced to great penury, came to tell him secretly of her poverty.

The good father made her the same answer as did St. Peter to the lame man of Jerusalem, “Silver and gold I have none, but what I have I give thee (Acts, iii. 6). I renew the assurance I have already given, that you have gained ten days indulgence by being present this morning at my sermon.”

Naming a banker, he said to her, “Go to him, he is a man who, until now, has never cared for spiritual treasures, but offer to him in return for the alms he will bestow on you, the merit you have gained, so that the sufferings which await him in Purgatory may be lessened. I have good reason to believe that he will give you some help.”

The poor lady went as she had been told, and God moved the banker to receive her with kindness. He asked her how much she thought she would get in exchange for her ten days indulgence.

“As much,” she replied, “as they will weigh in the scales.”

“Well,” said the banker, “there are the scales: write your ten days on a slip of paper and put it on them. I will put a coin on the other side.”

Wonderful to relate, the scale did not rise, but outweighed the one with the money. The banker, surprised at the circumstance, added another coin with the same result; then he placed five, ten, thirty, up to a hundred, which was the sum the poor lady needed, and not before this did the scales balance. It was a lesson for the banker, as until then, he had not known the value of spiritual alms.

The poor souls, however, know it still better, and would give all the gold in the world for the smallest indulgence. Let us, then, endeavor to gain for them the greatest number that we possibly can.


This anecdote comes from Month of the Souls in Purgatory by Abbé Berlioux, originally published in English in the year 1886. This book contains meditations and an example story for each day of the month. In an effort to preserve short inspiring stories from our Catholic past, every day for the month of November you can find the example story for the day published on the website under people/stories.

The same author also published similar books for the months of March (St. Joseph), May (Our Lady), and June (Sacred Heart). We are planning to post the stories for these months in the future, as well as re-publish a collection of these four books as a set, so be sure to check back in a few months.