Maria Simma, the Souls in Purgatory, and Garabandal
"IT WILL BE SOMETHING FOR THE CONVERSION OF HUMANITY"
Maria Simma was born on February 2, 1915, in a small town in Austria called Sonntag. Since childhood, her dream was to surrender her life to God in a religious order, but due to her weak physical constitution, she was rejected by three different communities. At first, Maria did not understand why the Lord did not allow her to fulfill the desire He had stirred in her to consecrate herself. Over time, she gradually understood that the consecration the Lord asked of her would not take place in a religious community, but in a demanding service of charity toward the poorest souls in Purgatory.
She received the first “visit” from a soul in Purgatory one night in 1940 when she was 25 years old. During the first years, until 1953, only two or three souls visited her each year, usually during the month of November. In 1954 a Marian Year was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on the occasion of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. During that year the souls visited Maria every night. When the jubilee year ended, the visits became somewhat fewer, but normally they were not less than three or four visits a week. A few days before the Marian Year began, Maria Simma began to suffer mystical sufferings in expiation for the souls in Purgatory. At times, she felt as if her limbs were being pulled violently. Other times, it was as if she was being violently stabbed with sharp knives over her entire body. The sufferings in expiation for the pains caused by abortion or impurity consisted of terrible stomach pains and nausea. On other occasions, she felt as if she were lying among blocks of ice for hours. The cold penetrated her to the bone. These were the sufferings in reparation for lukewarmness and religious coldness.
However, neither her sufferings nor her extraordinary experiences made Maria withdraw into herself. On the contrary, all who knew her bore witness to the fact that Maria was always friendly to those who went to her to entrust all kinds of spiritual sufferings or trials until the day she died: March 16, 2004. She was exemplary in the practice of self-denial, with a spirit of sacrifice and poverty. When they asked her why God permitted the experiences she had, she replied, “God allows it so that, through my apostolate, other people may understand clearly that our time on earth is meant for gaining Heaven.”
There is an interesting book from 1993 entitled, Get Us Out of Here!! Maria Simma Speaks With Nicky Eltz, by Nicky Eltz. It is the finished product of over thirty interviews carried out during about five years. In this book, Maria Simma describes her experiences with candid simplicity and responds wisely to the interviewer’s countless questions. Certainly Maria Simma’s testimony must be studied and evaluated by the Church, and we remit it to the Church’s judgment. Nonetheless, I know several people who have read this book and I can assure that having read it has not left them indifferent. In the first place, it shows the souls in Purgatory as our real brothers and sisters who are in need of our help and compassion. It also spurs readers on to a greater love for God, helps one to understand how much is still left to give to God if we do not want to atone for our sins and omissions in Purgatory, and how to live the Eucharist with greater devotion. Moreover, in several moments and manners, this book touches on Our Blessed Mother’s messages and the warnings she gave in the apparitions in San Sebastian de Garabandal. I thought we could benefit greatly studying and reflecting upon them.
We find the first reference to Garabandal in Maria Simma’s words a few pages into the book. Nicky Eltz had not asked about Garabandal. His question was, “Do the holy souls in Purgatory know what is going to happen?” However, Maria responded by making reference to something that is very similar to what we know as the “Warning” in Garabandal, one of the prophetic events announced to the visionaries by the Virgin Mary. These are Maria Simma’s words: “Yes, they know something, but not everything. They told me that something very important is going to happen, and that it is approaching. For many years they said that it was “in front of the door,” but since May 1993 they used the expression “at the door.” It will be something for the conversion of humanity.”
Simma is conscious of the fact that it is difficult to believe such an answer. Therefore, to the souls and her own credibility, she points out two situations in which the souls warned her of things that shortly afterward were fulfilled: “On a smaller scale, they have told me about things that happened shortly afterwards. During the summer of 1954, they warned me about the floods that did so much damage to this region. On another occasion they also told me that there were still people under the snow after an avalanche. The rescue teams prolonged their search and sure enough managed to find and save those people two days after they were asked to please continue the search.” Some pages further along, the interviewer asks about upcoming events again. “Have the souls told you anything specific about their future?” Maria Simma responds, alluding once again to something that seems to have to do with the prophecies in Garabandal “Not in detail, but, on several occasions, they have said that something very important is at the door; it is right in front of us. But I do not know if I will still be here to see it. Like I said before, it will come from God and will be for the conversion of all. God will make his existence very clear, but even so, not everyone will convert his or her heart to Him.” Later on, Maria insists, “I think that God will reveal Himself very, very soon because we have gone too far away from Him.”
Nicky Eltz asks Maria Simma a very serious question, “What could you tell me about Satan and the activity he carries out currently?” to which she responds with an affirmation that should not surprise us too much, for we have the evidence right before us. “He has never been so strong or active as he is nowadays.” Eltz continues, “Why do you think that this is so?” Maria’s answer: “The 20th century is incomparable to any other insofar as apostasy, murder, greed for money and power, hatred, lack of mercy and prayer. It is his century! The fact that he has been so active is also due to Satan’s knowledge of a great event that is going to take place and that will be for the conversion of humanity. He knows that soon his strategy will be noticeably weakened, and he always shouts the loudest before being defeated.” Once again, Maria’s answer indicates something that is very similar to Garabandal’s Warning.
Finally, a point arrives in the conversation in which Maria explains what and where Garabandal is, and how she herself has gone on pilgrimage to it on several occasions: “Garabandal is a mountainous village in Spain where Our Blessed Mother appeared to a group of girls in the 60s. The following warning proceeds from there and is essentially: “A moment will come in which every person on earth will see the condition of his or her own soul, and many will die of fear upon seeing it.” It is the same thing that happens to everyone at the moment of his or her death, but this will happen to all simultaneously.”
To understand the connection between what the souls told Maria Simma and what the Virgin Mary told the girls in Garabandal, all you have to do is read the visionaries’ testimonies. Yet, the fact that each time the souls refer to things that are going to happen, according to Maria Simma’s testimony, it doesn’t fail to leave the impression that they could by referring to the Warning. It is as if they were insisting on the fact that there is nothing more important within our reach than that of the salvation of souls. This is certainly the case if we believe in Everlasting Life, taking our salvation into consideration with deep longings to go to Heaven.
The girls in Garabandal point out that before the Warning comes, the Church will have to go through a “great tribulation,” a difficult trial in which external and internal factors would be included: Persecution: “[The Church] would give the impression of being at the point of perishing,” and a faith crisis: “Many will have left the practice of religion.” The souls in Purgatory corroborate it. This is how Maria Simma describes it: “The souls in Purgatory commented to me that the Church is in the worst state of her history. They have also informed me, though, that the situation would improve and that we ought to have hope. Peaceful times will come. Nonetheless, before this happens, there will be a great storm, but which Our Blessed Mother does not want us to worry about, think of, or assume about. God always takes care of his children. This great storm will include the prophecies of La Salette, which announce that something that we have never seen before is drawing nearer to us. It will also include the prophecies of Fatima, the warning of Garabandal, and the secrets kept by the “children” in Medjugorje.” What we have to pray the most for is the United States. There, they have not suffered a war in their own nation during this century. Pride, greed, occultism, sects, abortion, and materialism abound there. According to what the souls say, what is at the door will affect the United States dramatically.”
Besides the prophecies regarding the Warning, Miracle, and Chastisement, in Garabandal the Virgin Mary gave two public messages. Among the topics that they concern, there as an important warning about the priestly crisis, which escapes the majority of the faithful’s notice, incubated in the heart of the Church: “Many cardinals, many bishops, and many priests are on the road to perdition and are taking many souls with them.” Maria knows that there are many priests, bishops, and cardinals in Purgatory. She also knows that some priests, bishops and cardinals have been lost forever in hell, and she certainly knows that those who are most responsible for the present situation in which the Church finds Herself, are priests. Maria Simma expresses it herself: “The souls in Purgatory told me that the Church today is in a worse state than it ever has been before. The sin of apostasy reigns all over, and priests are considered the most responsible for it. Instead of praying and teaching the Word, it seems as if they run from one place to another to study psychology, rhetoric, accounting, or whatever to learn how to get closer to their public. They are the ones who have to show people how to get closer to Jesus and Mary through prayer and should not try to be conformed or be “up to date” with this very secularized society.”
Before these declarations, Nicky Eltz dares to ask, “Should we be afraid of such warnings?” to which Maria responds, “Only if we are very far from God and full of sin will we have reasons to be afraid, but if we strive to be with Him constantly, we have nothing to fear... We should never, ever become anxious, because fear comes from Satan alone. If we sincerely try to live with God every day, He will protect us from all that is to come. The people who pray will be safe, but those who do not pray will be surprised with their guard lowered and thus unprotected. It is that simple: we have to trust in God and in his Mother with a childlike trust.”
As I said before, Maria Simma’s testimony include private revelations that are still being studied by the Church. Even if the Church came to see signs of the supernatural in Maria Simma’s experiences, they would continue to remain outside the Deposit of Faith. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, the role of private revelations is not “to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history” (CCC 67). Such is the case. With this, Benedict XVI’s affirmation in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, is also true. Private revelation “can have a certain prophetic character (cf. 1 Th 5:19-21) and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly.” Maria Simma’s declarations do not contradict the Faith of the Catholic Church. Moreover, they help us live it more intensely and wholeheartedly, and in this sense we ought to welcome them.