- The term purgatory originates from the Latin language. It means "to purge." It refers to a process of purification through which participants are prepared to ascend to heaven.
- The Roman Catholic Church traces the doctrine of purgatory back to the early Middle Ages in the writings of church fathers such as Origen and Augustine.
- Based on an interpretation of various scriptures, purgatory is believed to involve either metaphorical or literal fire. Augustine claimed that those destined for salvation would be cleansed by fire, while the damned would be consumed.
- According to the church fathers, those who enter purgatory are shut off from God's presence. However, because they can sin no more, spirits in purgatory can experience some satisfaction in the knowledge that they will ultimately be saved.
- The biblical sources concerning various states in the afterlife are vague and inconsistent. The doctrine of purgatory only became consistent through the decrees and councils of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church.