Not to Suffer Hell, But to Conquer It


When Thou didst descend, O Life Immortal / Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead / And when Thou didst raise the dead from the nethermost depths / All the powers of Heaven cried out / O Giver of Life, Christ our God, Glory to Thee

He who is shut in the depths is beheld dead / Wrapped in fine linen and spices / The Immortal One is laid in the tomb as a mortal man / The women have come to anoint Him with myrrh, / Weeping bitterly and crying: / This is the most blessed Sabbath / On which Christ has fallen asleep to rise on the third day!

– Troparion and Kontakion of the Holy Saturday Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

It Was Fitting For Christ to Descend into Hell:

1) Because man by sin had incurred not only death of the body, but also descent into hell. Therefore it was fitting for Christ to die and descend into hell, so that He might deliver us from the necessity of permanent death (because we shall rise again) and from descent into hell. In this sense Christ is said to have power over death and in dying to have conquered it, according to the prophet, who says: “O death, I will be thy death.”

2) It was fitting for the devil to be overthrown by Christ’s passion, so that He should deliver the captives detained in hell.

3) As He showed forth His power on earth by living and dying, so also it was fitting for Him to manifest it in hell, by visiting it and enlightening it; and so at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, not only of them that are in heaven, but likewise of them that are in hell.

– Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Commentary on the Third Part of St. Thomas’ Theological Summa, ch. XXXVII