Why did Christ descend to hell?


He descended into the abode of the dead to show Himself to the souls of the just who were waiting for their redemption. He told them that their time of waiting was over and the Redemption had been accomplished.

The doctrine of Christ's descent to the dead, which was defined by the Fourth Lateran Council, is explicitly taught in the Bible. “But God has raised him up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, because it was not possible that he should be held fast by it” (Acts 2:24; cf. 31). “Now this, he ascended, what does it mean but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?” (Ephesians 4:9) “In which also he went and preached to those spirits that were in prison” (I Peter 3:19).

In the New Testament, Christ Himself refers by various names and figures to the place or state which Catholic tradition has agreed to call the limbo of the Fathers. In Matthew 8:11 it is spoken of under the figure of a banquet or in Matthew 25:10 under the figure of a marriage feast. He also calls it “Abraham’s bosom” in His parable of Lazarus and Dives (Luke 16:22), and “paradise” when addressing the penitent thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).
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