God permits a soul to appear so that it can be released from Purgatory, or at least, that its suffering be greatly lessened, and a pious, compassionate person is more likely to respond to its requests by the offering of fervent sacrifices, sufferings and prayers which are the means which help the poor souls. In other words, such souls are “saintly” persons, without of course ever becoming canonized Saints.
One such soul is Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929) who kept a diary of the appearances of the souls in Purgatory to her. Eugenie was a well educated woman of high German nobility; in fact Eugenie bore the title of princess and lived in the ancestral castle at Waal, Bavaria, Germany. By order of her confessor, she kept diary of her contacts with the poor souls, which after her death was handed over to Bishop Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.
The Shepherd named Fritz –From the diary of Eugenie von der Leyen, 1923.
June 11, 1923. At awakening, a long grayish form over me, completely nebulous; I can’t say whether man or woman, but unsympathetic; I am very frightened.
June 14. The phantom was already in my room when I wanted to sleep. Then I said my evening-prayer aloud, during which it came very near to me. If it hadn’t been for his arms, it rather would seem a walking tree-trunk. It stayed perhaps twenty minutes, then came back at four o’clock.
June 16. It was very bad. It shook my shoulder. That is a horrible moment. I struck him and said: “You may not touch me!” Where¬upon it withdrew in a corner. At my push, I didn’t feel a body, it was like a humid, warm towel. I believed I couldn’t stand such terror any longer.
June 18. Again this horrible thing; it wanted to clasp my neck. I prayed in fear and took the particle of the Cross [a holy relic she possessed] in my hand. Then it remained with me, staying upright and big before me. It didn’t answer questions.” then it went out through the door, which it left open.
June 19. I can recognize now that it is a man; he was only there for a short while.
June 21. The horrible man more than an hour during the night, went back and forth continuously. He has disheveled black hair and horrific eyes.
June 22. This man from one o’clock until past five with me, it was very bad. He repeatedly bowed over me and sat down at my bedside. I really wept for fear, then prayed the “hours” so that I didn’t need to see him. Then he went again back and forth and moaned horribly. Now it seems to me I must know him, however I cannot find out who it is. I have become very cowardly, for many times it is really a decision for me to go to my room in the evening. Yet ordinarily I am able to fall asleep very well.
June 24. He came back, seized me at my shoulder. I said: “Now tell me what you want and then don’t come back.”
No answer; he went again through the room a couple of times and then was gone. My rest however was completely destroyed. At six in the morning he came back. In daylight he even looks more horrific, makes a disgusting impression, belongs to the dirtiest category of ghosts who have already come. I said: “Don’t disturb me, I want to prepare myself for holy Communion!” Then he drew very near to me and lifted his hands imploringly. I was so sorry for him that I promised him a lot. Then I said: “Can’t you speak?” Whereupon he shook his head. “Do you have much to suffer?” Now he moaned terribly. I gave him much holy water” and then he was gone.
June 27. He was there again, in the night. Seems to know me; I racked my brains as to who he might be. He is very unsympathetic.?
June 29. He was again in the room when I went to bed. It could be the murdered shepherd Fritz. I asked him at once, but he didn’t react. I prayed with him, during which he fixed his eyes on me so angrily that I was really frightened. I asked him to go and then he went indeed.
June 30. He came very briefly; his moaning waked me up.
July 1. Again, I really believe it is shepherd Fritz. However his face is so black that I have difficulty recognizing him. But figure, nose, and eyes are wholly “he”, as I saw him so many times in life.
July 2. He came back, didn’t look so terribly wild anymore and stayed not for a long time. I addressed him as “shepherd Fritz,” which he apparently found quite natural.
July 3. He came very briefly. I asked: “Are you the murdered shepherd Fritz?” Then he said distinctly: “Yes!”
July 4. He came to me in the morning, looked sadly at me and went away soon, answered nothing, too.
July 5. Now it struck me that everything about him is clearer. During prayer, he made the Sign of the Cross.
July 6. I am very happy for he can speak now. I asked him: “Why do you always come to me?” He: “Because you have always prayed for me.” (That is right, for I had always been sorry for the poor fellow; he always looked so particular, even as a boy.)
I: “Then what saved you?”
He: “Insight and repentance.”
I: “Weren’t you dead immediately?”
I: “Will you be released soon?”
He: “Not by far.”
Then I gave him permission to continue coming to me, if it does him well. How remarkable it is, that someone who was so rude in life speaks like that when separated from his body. Now I am not frightened by him anymore, and would like to help him as best I can. How merciful is the good Lord!
July 8. He came very briefly.
July 9. He came at 6:00am and by doing so woke me up. Otherwise I had overslept.
I: “Is it so important for you that I go to holy Mass?”
He: “That way, you can help me a lot.”
July 11. Only came very briefly.
July 12. We prayed together:
I: “Then what do you have to suffer?”
He: “I am burning!”
Then he came up to me and before I could defend myself, he pressed a finger on my hand. I was frightened so much and it hurt me so much, that I screamed. Now I have a red burn which I hope will heal soon. It is a very strange feeling, to have this visible mark from the other world.
July 24. Shepherd Fritz and the other one came two times in the night, all silent, but [the new one] not very pleasant.
July 29. Nothing special to mention. Now these two are coming every night. The new one looks horrible, while shepherd Fritz becomes ever more bright!!
August 10. Shepherd Fritz drew so near to me again, but looked very friendly. So I said to him, “Don’t you have to suffer so much anymore?”
He: “No.” and
I: “Can you pray for me yet?”
He: “No.” and
I: “Where are you then all the time?”
He: “In the forlornness.”
I: “Will you still come often to me?”
He: “No.” and
I: “Why not?”
He: “I am not allowed to any more!” and
I: “Have I been able to help you?”
He: “Yes.” Then he was gone….
To close this remarkable account, Father Sebastian Wieser, Eugenie’s parish priest and confessor, comments:
“The behavior of this apparition is like the echo of his earthly life. I have known shepherd Fritz well -he was like a “billygoat” in the parish. In him, the greatness of the mercy of God really manifests itself. Rarely did he come to church. He had an only son, who in school became well known for his meanness, falsehood, and deceptions and caused many troubles to his teachers and those in authority over him. When the boy had to be punished at school, the father pulled out all the stops of his indignation over the schoolmaster and priest. I prophesied at that time that someday the father himself would get a beating from this only son!
When this son was seventeen years old and was big and quite strong, he beat his father to death at around midnight …. Nobody knew if Fritz was dead immediately or if he came to for a moment. The latter seems to have been the case. The murderer had knocked him down in the hay-barn and abandoned him to his fate. Only in the morning was the dead man discovered ….On the sixth of July he states that: “…insight and repentance” have saved him from damnation! On the twelfth day of July he says, “I am burning!” and presses a finger on the hand of the princess, which leaves a red burn which I have seen myself.”
~Father Sebastian Wieser.