The Orthodox Response to the Latin Doctrine of Purgatory
Given at the Pseudo-Synod of Ferrara-Florence
In the third sitting of the Council, Julian, after mutual congratulations, showed that
the principal points of dispute between the Greeks and Latins were in the doctrine (a) on
the procession of the Holy Ghost, (b) on azymes in the Eucharist, (c) on purgatory, and
(d) on the Papal supremacy; and then asked them which of these subjects was to be
discussed first. The Greeks delayed discussing the first point till the opening of the
cumenical Council, and promised to give a speedy answer about the others as soon as the
Emperor's advice should be heard. The Emperor fixed upon one of the two last subjects to
commence discussions upon.  The Latins agreed to discuss upon purgatory.
In the fifth sitting (June 4) Cardinal Julian gave the following definition of the
Latin doctrine on purgatory: "From the time of the Apostles," he said, "the
Church of Rome has taught, that the souls departed from this world, pure and free from
every taint,namely, the souls of saints,immediately enter the regions of
bliss. The souls of those who after their baptism have sinned, but have afterwards
sincerely repented and confessed their sins, though unable to perform the epitimia laid
upon them by their spiritual father, or bring forth fruits of repentance sufficient to
atone for their sins, these souls are purified by the fire of purgatory, some sooner,
others slower, according, to their sins; and then, after their purification, depart for
the land of eternal bliss. The prayers of the priest, liturgies, and deeds of charity
conduce much to their purification. The souls of those dead in mortal sin, or in original
sin, go straight to punishment. 
The Greeks demanded a written exposition of this doctrine. When they received it, Mark
of Ephesus and Bessarion of Nice each wrote their remarks on it, which afterwards served
as a general answer to the doctrine of the Latins. 
When giving in this answer (June 14th), Bessarion explained the difference of the Greek
and Latin doctrine on this subject. The Latins, he said, allow that now, and until the day
of the last judgment, departed souls are purified by fire, and are thus liberated from
their sins; so that, he who has sinned the most will be a longer time undergoing
purification, whereas he whose sins are less will be absolved the sooner, with the aid of
the Church; but in the future life they allow the eternal, and not the purgatorial fire.
Thus the Latins receive both the temporal and the eternal fire, and call the first the
purgatorial fire. On the other hand, the Greeks teach of one eternal fire alone,
understanding that the temporal punishment of sinful souls consists in that they for a
time depart into a place of darkness and sorrow, are punished by being deprived of the
Divine light, and are purifiedthat is, liberated from this place of darkness and
woeby means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, and deeds of charity, and not by fire.
The Greeks also believe, that until the union of the souls to the bodies, as the souls of
sinners do not suffer full punishment, so also those of the saints do not enjoy entire
bliss. But the Latins, agreeing with the Greeks in the first point, do not allow the last
one, affirming that the souls of saints have already received their full heavenly reward.
In the following sitting the Latins presented a defence of their doctrine on purgatory.
As much as can be concluded from the answer given by the Greeks to it, they tried to prove
their doctrine by the words of 2 Mac. xii. 42, 46, where it is said that Judas Maccabaeus
"sent to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering," remarking at the same time
"that it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the
dead, that they might be delivered from sin." They also quoted the words of Jesus
Christ, "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,
neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (S. Matt. xii. 32.) But their
especial defence was founded on the words of the Apostle S. Paul (I Cor. iii. 11, 15):
"For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay,
stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it
shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If
any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any
man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as
by fire." Different extracts were also made by the Latins from the works of the
Eastern FathersBasil the Great, Epiphanius of Cyprus, John Damascene, Dionysius the
Areopagite, Theodoret, Gregory of Nyssa; and the WesternAugustine, Ambrose, and
Gregory the Great. They did not also forget to quote the authority of the Church of Rome
in defence of their doctrine, and to make use of their usual sophistries.
To all this the Orthodox party gave a clear and satisfactory answer.  They remarked,
that the words quoted from the book of Maccabees, and our Saviour's words, can only prove
that some sins will be forgiven after death; but whether by means of punishment by fire,
or by other means, nothing was known for certain. Besides, what has forgiveness of sins to
do with punishment by fire and tortures? Only one of these two things can happen: either
punishment or forgiveness, and not both at once.
In explanation of the Apostle's words, they quoted the commentary of S. John
Chrysostom, who, using the word fire, gives it the meaning of an eternal, and not
temporary, purgatorial fire; explains the words wood, hay, stubble, in the
sense of bad deeds, as food for the eternal fire; the word day, as meaning the day
of the last judgment; and the words saved yet so as by fire, as meaning the
preservation and continuance of the sinner's existence while suffering punishment. Keeping
to this explanation, they reject the other explanation given by S. Augustine, founded on
the words shall be saved, which he understood in the sense of bliss, and
consequently gave quite another meaning to all this quotation. "It is very right to
suppose," wrote the Orthodox teachers, "that the Greeks should understand Greek
words better than foreigners. Consequently, if we cannot prove that any one of those
saints, who spoke the Greek language, explains the Apostle's words, written in Greek, in a
sense different to that given by the blessed John, then surely we must agree with the
majority of these Church celebrities." The expressions sothenai, sozesthai, and
soteria, used by heathen writers, mean in our language continuance, existence (diamenein,
einai.) The very idea of the Apostle's words shows this. As fire
naturally destroys, whereas those who are doomed to eternal fire are not destroyed, the
Apostle says that they continue in fire, preserving and continuing their existence, though
at the same time they are being burned by fire. To prove the truth of such an explanation
of these words by the Apostle, (ver. 11, 15,) they make the following remarks: The Apostle
divides all that is built upon the proposed foundation into two parts, never
even hinting of any third, middle part. By gold, silver, stones, he means virtues;
by hay, wood, stubble, that which is contrary to virtue, i. e., bad works.
"Your doctrine," they continued to tell the Latins, "would perhaps have had
some foundation if he (the Apostle) had divided bad works into two kinds, and bad said
that one kind is purified by God, and the other worthy of eternal punishment. But he made
no such division; simply naming the works entitling man to eternal bliss, i.e., virtues,
and those meriting eternal punishment, i.e., sins. After which he says, 'Every man's work
shall be made manifest, and shows when this will happen, pointing to that last day,
when God will render unto all according to their merits: 'For the day,' he says, 'shall
declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire.' Evidently, this is the day of the
second coming of Christ, the coming age, the day so called in a particular sense,
or as opposed to the present life, which is but night. This is the day when He will come
in glory, and a fiery stream shall precede Him. (Dan. vii. 10; Ps. 1. 3; xcvii. 3; 2 S.
Pet. iii. 12, 15.) All this shows us that S. Paul speaks here of the last day, and of the
eternal fire prepared for sinners. 'This fire,' says he, 'shall try every man's work of
what sort it is,' enlightening some works, and burning others with the workers. But when
the evil deed will be destroyed by fire, the evil doers will not be destroyed also, but
will continue their existence in the fire, and suffer eternally. Whereas then the Apostle
does not divide sins here into mortal and venial, but deeds in general into good and bad;
whereas the time of this event is referred by him to the final day, as by the Apostle
Peter also; whereas, again, he attributes to the fire the power of destroying all evil
actions, but not the doers; it becomes evident that the Apostle Paul does not speak of
purgatorial fire, which, even in your opinion, extends not over all evil actions, but over
some of the minor sins. But these words also, 'If any man's work shall be burned, he shall
suffer loss,' (zemiothesetai, i.e., shall lose,) shows that the Apostle
speaks of the eternal tortures; they are deprived of the Divine light: whereas this
cannot be spoken of those purified, as you say; for they not only do not lose anything,
but even acquire a great deal, by being freed from evil, and clothed in purity and
In answer to the words quoted by the Latins from Basil the Great (in his prayer for
Pentecost), Epiphanius, John Damascene, and Dionysius the Areopagite, the defenders of the
orthodox doctrine remarked, that these quotations did not prove anything to the advantage
of the Church of Rome. They could not even find the testimony of Theodoret adduced by the
Latins. "Only one Father remains," they continued, "Gregory the blessed
priest of Nyssa, who, apparently, speaks more to your advantage than any of the other
Fathers. Preserving all the respect due to this Father, we cannot refrain from noticing,
that he was but a mortal man, and man, however great a degree of holiness he may attain,
is very apt to err, especially on such subjects, which have not been examined before or
determined upon in a general Council by the Fathers." The orthodox teachers, when
speaking of Gregory, more than once restrict their words by the expression: "if
such was his idea," and conclude their discussion upon Gregory with the following
words: "we must view the general doctrine of the Church, and take the Holy
Scripture as a rule for ourselves, nor paying attention to what each has written in his
private capacity (idia)."
The Eastern teachers said, concerning the testimonies of the Western Fathers, that they
were rather ignorant of them, not having any translation in Greek, and tried to excuse
them by the circumstances under which they wrote, their misunderstanding the Apostle's
words (I Cor. iii. 11, 15), the difficulty of drawing a general conclusion from many
circumstances (founded on visions), &c.
As regards the weight of the opinion of the Church of Rome pointed to by the Latins, it
was found by the Greeks to be inconsistent with the subject then in hand.
Lastly, to the Latin sophistries, they opposed the more valid conclusions from the
principles of the doctrine of Christ, from many works of the Fathers, from the parable of
Lazarus, where mention is made of Abraham's bosom,the place of bliss,and of
hell the place of punishment; and nothing is said of any intermediate place for temporal
The Greek answer was evidently intended to show the Latins the unsoundness of their
newly-invented doctrine on the one side, and the steadfastness of the orthodox party in
the faith handed down to them by the Apostles and the holy Fathers, on the other. In the
course of the disputes the principal question branched off into so many light and abstract
questions, that as a matter of course the solution of the chief one became still more
difficult. The Latins for instance asked where and how the angels fly? what was the
substance of hell fire? The last question met with the following answer from Jagaris, the
imperial officer: "the querist will get a satisfactory solution to his question, when
he experiences the nature of that fire himself." 
The question on purgatory not being agreed upon, another one was proposedthat
about the blissful state of the righteous, alluded to by Bessarion in his treatise on the
difference of the doctrines of both Churches on the condition of the departed souls. It
was asked: whether the saints, departed from this life, attained entire bliss or not?
Before discussing this question, the Greeks found it necessary to have a private
conference with the other members of the Council. With this intention all the members
assembled in the Patriarch's cell (July 15,) and read over different testimonies of the
Fathers; the Emperor bade them collect their votes. Some gave a negative answer to the
question, founding it on the Apostle's words, (Heb. xi. 39,) others gave a positive
answer. The next day, after a few disputes, the whole Council of Greek Bishops unanimously
agreed, that though the souls of the saints, as souls, are already in the enjoyment of
bliss, still when, at the general resurrection they will join their bodies, then their
bliss will be greater; that then they will he enlightened like the sun.  This was their
last answer to the Latin doctrine on the state of souls after death.
What then were the fruits of these tedious discussions? Did they conduce in any manner
to the solution of the principal question concerning the union of Churches? No! The Latin
theologians could neither find firm proofs for their opinions, nor would they give them
up. The Greeks again would not receive a doctrine not founded on any good proofs, nor
could they incline the Latins to receive the orthodox doctrine.
To the misfortune of the Greeks, their own party also became divided, a circumstance
which prognosticated nothing good. Bessarion, generally speaking, was not very earnest in
the defence of the orthodox cause, and if he did dispute with the Latins now and then, it
was only to show off his powers of speech.  But meeting with a rival in Mark of
Ephesus,  he became still more passive in the cause of orthodoxy, and began to nourish
a feeling of hatred towards Mark. Obliged to answer the Latins together with him, he
usually left Mark to refute their various objections alone. It was in vain, that many
prudent persons tried to reconcile Bessarion to Mark at the very commencement of the
former's enmity to the latter, even calling to their aid the authority of the Patriarch,
who by his meek reproofs might have ended the quarrel. The invalid Joseph would on no
account meddle in this affair.  Then again the cunning Gregory, offended that Mark did
not find him worthy of being the vicar of the Patriarch of Alexandria,  did his utmost
to set Bessarion against Mark. Apparently he esteemed Mark, sat down lower than he did in
the Council,  voted after him, notwithstanding the Privileges of a higher patriarchal
throne were on his side; when his opinion was the same as Mark's, he never spoke of
himself, but always said: "I am of the same opinion as the holy Metropolitan of
Ephesus."  But this was sheer hypocrisy. In the presence of Bessarion and the
Emperor, he placed Mark lower than the Archbishop of Nicaea,  and found fault with
everything he said, not caring about this self-contradiction. 
Thus it was, that as soon as the Greeks commenced discussions, there arose men who,
separating from the true members of the Eastern Church, sacrificed the advantages of the
Church to their own passions and advantages.
The disputes ended. More than three months had already elapsed since the opening of the
Council. The Greeks remaining inactive, and suffering want in everything,  began to
feel dull and sorry that they had left their homes.
The Emperor, fearing that the discontented would prematurely leave the Council, ordered
the city governor not to let any of the Greeks leave the town, nor to give any one
passports without his permission and signature. He himself, having shut up the Greeks in
Ferrara, settled in a monastery not far from the town, and spent his time in the field,
hunting, as if he were even loath to remind himself of a business which had called him
away from his Empire. 
As soon as the time fixed upon for the opening of the solemn sessions of the Council
had arrived, the Greeks asked the Emperor to return to town and make some arrangements
about the Council. The Emperor answered, that he would not even think of opening a
Council, which was to be an cumenical one, without the ambassadors of the Western
monarchs, and a more numerous assembly of Bishops than the present one. But the members of
the Council instead of increasing only diminished in number. Many fell victims to a
frightful epidemic; others, from fear, retired to their homes; so that at the commencement
of the solemn session, out of eleven Cardinals only five remained, and out of one hundred
and fifty Bishops only fifty were present. It was at this time that the Greeks received a
proof of Divine protection. None of them suffered from the epidemic. 
One addition only was made to the Council in the person of Isidore, Metropolitan of
Russia, who arrived on the 18th of August. He bad returned to Russia after the conclusion
of the treaty between the Emperor and the Council of Basle (in the end of 1436). With him
was to have returned Jonah, Bishop of Riazan, sent to Greece to be ordained Metropolitan.
Arriving at Moscow, Isidore was received by the Grand Duke Vasili Vasilievitch with all
due honour. But soon after his arrival, he began telling the Grand Duke that the Greek
Church intended to unite with the Church of Rome, that a Council was convened by the
Emperor and the Pope with this object in view,to be followed by the solemn union of
the East and West,and that it was very necessary that a representative of the
Russian Church should take part in the Council. The Grand Duke answered, "Our fathers
and grandfathers would not even listen to an union of the Greek and Roman laws; I myself
do not wish it." Isidore urged him to consent, pleading his oath given to the
Patriarch of coming to the Council. "We do not command thee to join the Council in
the Latin land," said the Grand Duke at last, "but thou listest not, and wilt
go. Remember then the purity of our faith, and bring it back with thee." Isidore
swore to remain true to Orthodoxy, and (on Sep. 8, 1437) left Moscow with Abram, Bishop of
Suzdal, Vassian the Archimandrite, the Priest Simeon, and other members of the clergy and
laity, in all a hundred. On quitting Russia, Isidore very soon evinced a violent
inclination to side with the Latins. Received in Livonia by the Bishop of Dorpat, and the
Orthodox Clergy, he first saluted the Latin cross and only afterwards kissed the holy
Russian icons. The companions of Isidore were horror-struck, and from that very moment
lost all their confidence in him. 
1. Syr. v. 7, 8. Synod. Flor. p. 30.
2. Syr. v. 13. Synod. Flor. p. 30.
3. Syr. v. 13. The contents of Mark's answer, not published in Greek, are mentioned by
Le Quien in one of his treatises, preceding the works of S. John Damascene, edited by him.
Dissert. Damas. v. p. 65, et seq. Syropulus, relating the circumstances touching this
dispute, refers his readers to the acts and notes of the Council about purgatory (praktika
hypomnemata peri tou pyrgatoriou, Syr. v. 5) ; but these are not published separately,
and are not even to be found in the Greek manuscripts. The answer of the Greek Fathers to
the question on purgatory, given on the 14th of June, 1438, (not to the Basle, but the
Florentine Council,) is mentioned in the book of Martin Kruze: Turcograecia, p. 186.
4. Synod. Flor. pp. 33, 35.
5. The answer of the Greeks is usually thought to be the work entitled, peri tou
katharteriou pyros biblion hen, edited together with the works of Nilus Cavasilas and
the monk Barlaam, without the author's name. (Nili Archiep. Thessalon. de primatu Papae,
edit. Salmasii, Hanov. 1603.) As the name of the writer of this answer is not mentioned,
it is sometimes referred to Nilus Cavasilas and the monk Barlaam, though the manuscripts
give no reason for doing so. (See Fabric. Bibl. Graec. Ed. Harl. t. xi. p. 384 and 678.)
From the work itself it is evident that it was written (a) not in the name of one person,
but many persons, who had undertaken so long a journey, hemin ponon hypostasi kata ten
makran tauten apodemian tosouton; (b) that it was written to persons, who had busied
themselves about the arrival of the Greeks to the Council; hymin te toson d hyper
tes prokeimenes hemon seneleuthesthai prokatabainoumenois spoudes; (c) that it was
written at the very commencement of the Council discussions, before other questions were
settled. This is the reason why the persons who composed this work try to give a peaceful
solution not only of this question but, if possible, of all the other ones, ouk epi tou
prokeimenou nyni toutou zetematos, alla kai epi panton isos ton allon. All' ekeinon
men heineka melei theo kai melesei, ... . (d) that it was written in reply to the
defence (apologian) presented of the Romish doctrine on purgatory. All these
circumstances direct our attention to the dispute on purgatory which took place in
Ferrara, and not to any other one known to us. The writer of the History of the Florentine
Council,Dorotheus of Mitylene, remarks, that the Latins, in their second answer,
adduced many testimonies from the saints, examples and arguments, using also the Apostle's
words for this purpose,saved, yet so as by fire. Synod. Flor. pp. 35, 36. All
this found place in the defence also, in answer to which the Latins presented the work we
have been examining. Syropulus says that it was Mark of Ephesus who wrote the answer to
the Latin defence, v. 15. But this answer, as well as the first one, is not published. Le
Quien, examining both these answers in his above-mentioned dissertation, quotes the
principal ideas contained in this second answer of Mark. The same ideas, and in the same
order, are also to be found in the work "On Purgatorial Fire," as well as the
words quoted by Le Quien from Mark's second answer, ti gar koinon aphesei te kai
katharsei dia pyros kai kolaseos. Dissert. Damasc. v. pp. 8, 9, 66, 67. All these
arguments allow us to conclude that the work on purgatorial fire was either entirely or
principally composed by Mark of Ephesus, and that it was brought forward by the Greeks in
answer to the Latin defence of the doctrine on purgatory.
6. Syr. v. 16, 18; Syn. Flor. p. 35, 37.
7. Synod. Flor. 37-39.
8. It is worthy of notice, that when the Greeks, seeing the obstinate opposition of the
Latins to the truth, wished to terminate all the discussions, Bessarion alone insisted
that they should be continued, the subject alone being changed. "We can still say
many nice things," were his words. (polla kai kala.) Syr. vii. 6.
9. Mark was commissioned to write the Latins an answer about purgatory, and not
Bessarion; but Bessarion did nevertheless give in his answer also.
10. Syr. v. 14-17.
11. Syr. iv. 29.
12. Syr. iv. 32.
13. Syr. vii. 10.
14. Syr. v. 14.
15. Syr. v. 15.
16. The first pay-day of the Greeks was the 2nd of April. 691 florins were given them
on one month's account, whereas their pay was due for a month and a half. Syr. iv. 28. On
the second pay-day (May 12) they received 689 florins (Syr. v. 9); on the third day (June
30th) 689 florins; on Oct. 21, 1218 florins for two months. The fifth and last pay-day was
at Ferrara, Jan. 12th, 1439, when 2412 florins were paid for four months (Syr. vii, 14).
Thus, three months and twenty days elapsed between the third and fourth pay-day, and as
much between the fourth and fifth.
17. Syr. vi. 1, 2.
18. Syr. vi. 3.
19. History of the Russian Empire by Karamzin. Ernerlings ed. t. v. pp.
From The History of the Council of Florence, by Ivan
Ostroumoff, trans. from the Russian by Basil Popoff (Boston: Holy Transfiguration
Monastery, 1971), pp. 47-60. The footnotes have been renumbered, the Greek text
transliterated, and the Greek letters used for itemizing some of the lines in the body
were converted to English letters. All else is as original. This is one of the most
important books one can read when trying to sort out the differences between the Latins
and the Orthodox Church. Let the reader judge for himself who has maintained the true
+ + +
See also a superb discussion of the Homilies refuting the
purgatorial fire given by St. Mark of Ephesus at this same Synod: The Soul After Death,
by Fr. Seraphim Rose, App. I, pp. 196-213. Here are Fr. Seraphim's introductory remarks
on these homilies:
The Orthodox teaching on the state of souls after death is one that is often not
fully understood, even by Orthodox Christians themselves; and the comparatively late Latin
teaching of "purgatory" has caused further confusion in people's minds. The
Orthodox doctrine itself, however, is not at all ambiguous or imprecise. Perhaps the most
concise Orthodox exposition of it is to be found in the writings of St. Mark of Ephesus at
the Council of Florence in 1439, composed precisely in order to answer the Latin teaching
on "purgatory." These writings are especially valuable to us in that coming as
they do from the last of the Byzantine Fathers, before the modern era with all its
theological confusions, they both point us to the sources of the Orthodox doctrine and
instruct us how to approach and understand these sources. These sources are: Scripture,
Patristic homilies, church services, Lives of Saints, and certain revelations and visions
of life after death, such as those contained in Book IV of the Dialogues of St. Gregory
Today's academic theologians tend to mistrust the latter two or three kinds of
sources, which is why they are often uneasy when speaking on this subject and sometimes
prefer to keep an "agnostic reticence" with regard to it (Timothy Ware, The
Orthodox Church, p. 259). St. Marks writings, on the other hand, show us how much
"at home" with these sources genuine Orthodox theologians are; those who are
"uncomfortable" with them perhaps reveal thereby an unsuspected infection with
Of St. Mark's four replies on purgatory composed at the Council of Florence, the
First Homily contains the most concise account of the Orthodox doctrine as against the
Latin errors, and it is chiefly from it that this translation has been compiled. The other
replies contain mostly illustrative material for the points discussed here, as well as
answers to more specific Latin arguments.
The "Latin Chapter" to which St. Mark replies are those written by
Julian Cardinal Cesarini (Russian translation in Pogodin, pp. 50-57), giving the Latin
teaching, defined at the earlier "Union" Council of Lyons (1270), on the state
of souls after death. This teaching strikes the Orthodox reader (as indeed it struck St.
Mark) as one of an entirely too "literalistic" and "legalistic"
character. The Latins by this time had come to regard heaven and hell as somehow
"finished" and "absolute," and those in them as already possessing the
fullness of the state they will have after the Last Judgment; thus, there is no need to
pray for those in heaven (whose lot is already perfect) or those in hell (for they can
never be delivered or cleansed from sin). But since many of the faithful die in a
"middle" statenot perfect enough for heaven, but not evil enough for
hellthe logic of the Latin arguments required a third place of cleansing
(''purgatory"), where even those whose sins had already been forgiven had to be
punished or give "satisfaction" for their sins before being sufficiently
cleansed to enter heaven. These legalistic arguments of a purely human "justice"
(which actually deny God's supreme goodness and love of mankind) the Latins proceeded to
support by literalistic interpretations of certain Patristic texts and various visions;
almost all of these interpretations are quite contrived and arbitrary, because not even
the ancient Latin Fathers spoke of such a place as "purgatory," but only of the
"cleansing" from sins after death, which some of them referred to (probably
allegorically) as by "fire."
In the Orthodox doctrine, on the other hand, which St. Mark teaches, the
faithful who have died with small sins unconfessed, or who have not brought forth fruits
of repentance for sins they have confessed, are cleansed of these sins either in the trial
of death itself with its fear, or after death, when they are confined (but not
permanently) in hell, by the prayers and Liturgies of the Church and good deeds performed
for them by the faithful. Even sinners destined for eternal torment can be given a certain
relief from their torment in hell by these means also. There is no fire tormenting sinners
now, however, either in hell (for the eternal fire will begin to torment them only after
the Last Judgment), or much less in any third place like "purgatory"; all
visions of fire which are seen by men are as it were images or prophecies of what will be
in the future age. All forgiveness of sins after death comes solely from the goodness of
God, which extends even to those in hell, with the cooperation of the prayers of men, and
no "payment" or "satisfaction" is due for sins which have been
It should be noted that St. Mark's writings concern primarily the specific point
of the state of souls after death, and barely touch on the history of the events that
occur to the soul immediately after death. On the latter point there is an abundant
Orthodox literature, but this point was not under discussion at Florence.