Refrigerium Refreshment is one of the elements of happiness which the Church implores for her dead: "locum refrigerii," says the Memento of the Dead of the mass canon, "ut indulgeas deprecamur." These words are found in the oldest liturgies; we find them in a prayer (Ante Sepulturam) of St. Gelasius's sacramentary (see Muratori, Lit. Rom. Ver. i, col. 749): "Ut. digneris dare ei ... locum refrigerii;" and in a collect of the same liturgical monument (ibid. i, col. 760): "Dona omnibus quorum hic corpora requiescunt refrigerii sedem."
I. The word refrigerium is generally employed by the sacred and ecclesiastical authors for a meal, or any refreshment of the body by food. In the Book of Wisdom (2, 1) the wicked express thus the idea that death puts an end to all material enjoyments: "Non est refrigerium in fine hominis." Paul, speaking of the hospitable treatment he had experienced at the hands of Onesiphorus (2Ti 1:16), says, "Soepe me refrigeravit." Tertullian calls the agape a refreshment given by the rich to the poor (Apolog. 39): "Inopes refrigerio isto juvamus." According to the same author the mitigations of the rigor of the fast (De Jejun. 10) are a refreshment for the flesh of the Christian (" carnem refrigerare"). In several passages of the Acts of St. Perpetua, "refrigerare" is used of those meals which the faithful were sometimes allowed to enjoy with the martyrs in their jails. "Why," says Perpetua to the tribune, "do you not grant us some refreshments [Quid utique non permittis refrigerare]? We are noble convicts — Caesar's own convicts — destined to fight on his anniversary. You ought to make it a point that we should appear on that occasion in good, fleshy condition [si pinguiores illo producamur]." Paradise being in the Scriptures, especially in the New Test. (Mt 22:2; Mt 25:10, etc.; Re 19:7, etc.), often compared to a banquet, it was but natural that refreshment should be used in a figurative sense for the heavenly banquet: "LJustus... si morte preoccupatus fuerit, in refrigerio erit." The following passage of the Ac 3:20 is also understood of the refreshment at the Lord's table: "Cum venerint tempora refrigerii a conspectu Domini." Tertullian (De Idol. 43) employs the same image in describing the felicity of Lazarus, who, driven away, while living, from the table of the rich man, sits down, after his death, with Abraham, to the eternal banquet: "Lazarus apud inferos in sinu Abrahae refrigerium consecutus." This same refrigerium is the favor which the faithful wife implores for her dead husband: "Pro anima ejus orat, et refrigerium adpostulat" (De Monogam. 10). St. Perpetua saw her brother Dinocrates in that place of refreshment: "Video Dinocratem refrigerantem" (Act. cap. 8). The prayer mentioned above, from the sacramentary of St. Gelasius, and which is still recited in the Roman Catholic Church, seems literally to request for the faithful soul a seat at the heavenly table ("refrigerii sedem").
II. This idea is expressed on a number of Christian tombs, the rerfigerium being spoken of as enjoyed by the saints, or as wished to those from whom it is still withheld in expiation of their sins. With the former meaning we find,: "In refrigerio" (Boldetti, p. 418); "In refrigerio anima tua" (Fabretti, p. 547); "In refrigerio et in pace" (Gruter, 1057, 10); "In pace et in refrigerio" (Act. Sanct. v, 122). In most cases it is a wish plainly expressed. The verb may be understood, as in "Ob refrigerium" (Fabretti, p. 114, n. 283); or "Dul cissimo Antistheni conjugi suo refrigerium" (Collect. of M. Perret [lxi, 5]). But we find the same wish expressed in a verbal form: "Victoria refrigereris spiritus tuus in bono" (Wiseman, Fabiola, p. 2); "Augustus in bono refrigeres dulcis" (Act. Sanct. v, 80); "Refrigera cuam spirita sancta" (Marangoni, Cose Gent. p. 460). The same formula is found on a marble of the vear 291 (see Boldetti, p. 87): "Caio Vibio Alexandro et Atisie Pompeie refrigeretis" (Perret. v, xlvi, 10). If there were any doubt as to the meaning of these formulae, it would be removed by a comparison with those inscriptions in which the name of God appears, e.g.: "Antonia anima dulcis tibi Deus refrigeret" (Boldetti, p. 418); "Deus refrigeret spiritum tuum" (Lupi, Sev. Epit. p. 137); "lefrigera Deus animam hom... "(Perret, 26:n. 115); "Spirita vestra Deus refrigeret" (Boldetti, p. 417); "Cuius spiritum in refrigeriutn suscipiat Dominus" (Muratori, Nov. Thesaur. p. 1922, 1). The following was found by Marchi on the cemetery of St. Callixtus, in Greek characters: "Deus Christus Omnipotens spiritum tuum refrigeret." Sometimes the refreshment is asked for the deceased by the intercession of the saints. — Martigny, Dict. des Antiq. Chretiennes, s.v.