Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Profession of Faith 165 634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” 484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfill­ ment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianicmission, a phasewhich is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” 485 Jesus, “the Author of life,” by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” 486 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades,” so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” 487 Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrowAdam in his bonds andEve, captivewith him—Hewho is both their God and the son of Eve. . . .” I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.” 488 IN BRIEF 636 By the expression “He descended into hell,” theApos­ tles’ Creed confesses that Jesus did really die and through his death for us conquered death and the devil “who has the power of death” ( Heb 2:14). 637 In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realmof the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him. 484 1 Pet 4:6. 485 Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9. 486 Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15. 487 Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10. 488 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C: LH, Holy Saturday, OR. 605