A small but extremely unique museum in Rome is the Museum of the Souls in Purgatory (Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio). It is located in a room next to the neo-Gothic Sacro Cuore del Suffragio Church. The collection consists of objects that show the marks deceased people seeking contact with their next of kin supposedly left on items of cloth or other objects.
Museum of the Souls of Purgatory Rome
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Lungotevere Prati, 12 – Rome. Telephone: +39 06 68806517. Opening Hours: Every day from 7.30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Entrance fee: Free of charge. (NB: the museum is closed during the Covid crisis).
History and description
The Museum of the Souls in Purgatory is located in a room next to the sacristy of the small neo-Gothic Sacro Cuore del Suffragio Church. It was founded towards the end of the 19th century by the French missionary Victor Jouet.
The immediate cause for its foundation was a fire in the Chapel of the Rosary. The missionary, together with some believers, thought they saw a suffering face in the flames, a face the imprint of which was later found on the altar.
After this event, he decided to travel through Europe to find other signs of people who had died and who had sought contact with the next of kin after their death.
What to see
The showpiece of the collection is a photograph of the imprint of the suffering face on the altar.
The church authorities generally did not attach much value to the authenticity of the found objects. The collection of signs from the afterlife compiled by the priest is therefore rather small.
The majority of the objects (cloths, rags, church clothing, nightdresses and wooden panels) date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Each object has its own history.
Purgatory, for the non-believers, is the place where souls of the newly dead are cleansed before they are allowed to go to heaven.