Thanks in part to these “panini benedetti” (blessed sandwiches), Nicholas was known for obtaining healings for many of the sick who lived in Tolentino — and even raising some people from the dead.
The Catholic Church formally defined the doctrine of purgatory during Nicholas’ lifetime, at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274. The doctrine teaches that when a person dies in God’s grace, he or she either goes straight to heaven or undergoes a state of purification before entering heaven called purgatory.
So how did Nicholas become associated with this doctrine?
As the Midwest Augustinians tell it, Nicholas was asleep in bed one night when he heard the voice of a deceased friar he had known. The friar told Nicholas that he was in purgatory and urged him to celebrate the Eucharist for him and other souls there, so that they would be set free by the power of Christ. After Nicholas did so for seven days, the friar again spoke to him, thanking him and assuring him that a large…