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Illustrator: Jose Guadalupe Posada

Here we have another of Posada's masterpieces, "The Lonely Soul," a breathtaking depiction of a tormented soul in purgatory pleading with Mother Mary and St. Joseph to intercede with the Holy Trinity on her behalf. The idea of purgatory, an intermediate place where souls suffer for a period of time in order to pay penance for sins committed while alive, has roots that extend centuries before Christianity and spread to the ancient belief systems of such far-flung locales as India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Palestine. The concept gained widespread acceptance in the Church in the 1300s, became a point of fierce contention during the Reformation, and was probably brought to Mexico by the Jesuits in the 1600s, where the Anima Sola became the object of a cult of devotion. Even though sins could be and were forgiven, the soul still had to pay a penalty; the prayers of family and friends, though, could help assuage the suffering and shorten the time spent before admittance to the eternal reward.

The verso of this large piece contains an article about the penalties of purgatory and a "Fervent invocation made by the inconsolable Soul of Holy Purgatory, to the Highest Mystery of the Holy Trinity, mediated by its effective attorneys, Mary and Joseph." Signed "Posada Sta. Ines 5. Mexico."

Publication Date



lmprenta de Antonio Vanegas Arroyo


Broadside, Mexico, Popular Devotion


Catholic Studies | Graphic Communications | Latin American Languages and Societies


The year of publication provided in this record is approximate, as the publication date is not apparent on the item or in the materials with which it was acquired; the publisher released broadsides during the early 20th century. Description provided by Owl and Quaker Booksellers.

La anima sola



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