THE TRENTAL OR GREGORIAN TRENTAL
IN FAVOR OF THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
ORIGIN OF THE TRENTAL
The Thirty Masses or Gregorian Trental prevails over any other devotion to the souls in Purgatory because of its antiquity, the authority of its founder and its effectiveness. Its origin dates back to the end of the 6th century when the future pope Saint Gregory the Great instituted it while he was Abbot of the monastery of St Andrew on Mount Celius in Rome. This is indeed what can be read in one of the most remarkable works of this Doctor of the Church (Dialogues, IV, 55) about the monk Justus who had neglected his vow of poverty by keeping three coins in his cell: "Take care that for thirty days, the Holy Sacrifice is offered for him and that we do not miss a single day to sacrifice the holy victim for him". The text adds that on the thirtieth day the deceased himself gave signs of his deliverance from Purgatory.
But why thirty days? According to the Bollandists, Gregory himself would have been informed by a revelation of the efficacy of these thirty masses. One day, inflamed with a very ardent charity for the souls in Purgatory, he lamented that after his death he could do nothing for them: "My friend," said Our Lord, "I will grant in your favor a privilege that will be unique: It is that every soul in Purgatory, for which will be offered thirty masses in your honor and without interruption, will be immediately delivered whatever his debt towards me ".
THE TRENTAL TODAY
If it is not necessary to say the thirty masses in honor of St Gregory, nor that the same priest has to say all the masses day by day, it is nevertheless necessary that the thirty Masses be celebrated one to one thirty days in a row. In addition, the application of these masses can be made only for one soul, to be determined by the one who makes say the trental.
The text of the decree published by the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences on January 14, 1889 is still relevant: "The trust of the faithful, looking at the celebration of the so-called Gregorian Masses as particularly effective, by virtue of the good pleasure and the acceptance of Divine mercy, to deliver a soul from Purgatory, is pious, approved and reasonable ... "