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In Dante's Purgatorio, Antepurgatory is a place where certain souls must wait before they enter Purgatory itself. Souls go to Antepurgatory if:

  • they delay their repentance of their sins until the last possible moment before death
  • they are rulers who did not use their power for good or evil
  • they do not receive last rites
  • they are excommunicated at the time of their death
  • they are not buried in consecrated ground.

Standard Catholic doctrine is that people meeting the last three of these conditions should go to Hell. However, Dante does not allow the Church the power to condemn those who are otherwise virtuous; instead he created Antepurgatory to allow them to 'just about make it' into Heaven.

Souls in Antepurgatory suffer no punishment, merely waiting until they have served their time and are admitted to Purgatory. The time they have to wait varies depending on the circumstances of their death; for example, those who are excommunicated must wait 30 years for each year of excommunication.

See also