Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 December 2020
In the early medieval West, purgatory was an idea in the process of formation in Christian thought. Formal teachings on purgatory were long preceded by stories in which imperilled souls sought and received intercession that allowed them to repent and rest in peace. Early medieval writings show that a wide variety of people could intercede for both the living and the dead. Ghost stories, family stories, and the idea of the communion of saints combined to consolidate purgatory and post-mortem purification of souls in medieval Christian thought.