That word does not occur in the scriptures, but suggests
the idea of a place of purgation or purification. Webster
defines it as follows:
"An intermediate state after death for
expiatory purification. The Roman Catholic Church teaches,
as defined in the councils of Florence and Trent, that
purgatory is a place or state of punishment wherein the
souls of those who die in God’s grace may expiate venial
sins, or satisfy divine justice for temporal punishment
still due remitted mortal sins."
That is confirmed by James Cardinal Gibbons,
Archbishop of Baltimore, in his Question Box (1929
Edition), pages 393-94, in the following paragraph:
"The Catholic Church has defined the existence
of Purgatory in the Decree of Union drawn up at the Council
of Florence in 1439, and again in the Council of Trent
(Sess. xxv.) which says: ‘The Catholic Church instructed by
the Holy Ghost, has from Sacred Scriptures and the ancient
traditions of the Fathers, taught in Sacred Councils, and
very recently in the Ecumenical Synod (Sess. Vi.,can.30;
Sess. xxii., chs.2,3), that there is a Purgatory, and that
the souls therein detained are helped by suffrages of the
faithful, but principally by the office of the alter."
"The same Council taught (Sess. xiv., can.
12), in accordance with the Scriptures (Num. xx. 12; 2
Kings xii, 13, 14) that God does not always remit all the
temporal punishment due to forgiven sin. The Scriptures
teach that nothing defiled can enter heaven (Wisd. Vii. 25;
Isa. xxv. 8; Hab. I. 13; Apoc. xxi. 7), and that Christians
often die with venial sins upon their souls. All,
therefore, who die in venial sins, or with temporal
punishment of their sins still unpaid must atone for them
OBSERVATION: But such does not accord with the
statements of scripture that (a) "the blood of Jesus his
son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7) and that (b) we
must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, "that
each one may receive [for] the things done in the body,
according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad"
(2 Corinthians 5:10).