Holy Saturday: Our Lord stormed the gates of Hell

“. . . was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead….” –Apostles’ Creed

The Saturday between Good Friday (when our Lord was crucified) and Easter Sunday (when He rose from the dead) is given little attention, although what Jesus did in that interregnum is no less significant.

On Holy Saturday, Jesus Christ our Lord undertook some of the most dramatic and important work of His salvific mission.

He went into the depths of “hell” — a realm of the dead called “the limbo of the patriarchs,” which was without the punishments of the damned and which no longer exists.

There, awaiting His coming, were the departed just. Among them were Adam and Eve, St. John the Baptist, and Jesus’ foster-father Joseph. To the souls of the just, Jesus proclaimed He had won their salvation and led them as the first entrants into Heaven.

What a magnificent sight that must have been!

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps 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. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, 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 sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.

For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Be Joyous!


21 responses to “Holy Saturday: Our Lord stormed the gates of Hell

  1. Wow, Dr. Eowyn! Thank you for focusing on the titanic battle and victory against the devil in the realm of hades. When Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” I believe He was referring to the battle He was about to win against Death, Hell and Satan by willingly obeying the Father, and submitting to the horrible death on the cross, as our substitute. I have a painting in mind (hopefully to be completed) of a sandaled foot on top of the hand of a fallen enemy, and a nail scarred hand grabbing a set of keys from the fallen hand.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Night Before Easter – Booth Brothers

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on kommonsentsjane and commented:

    Reblogged on kommonsentsjane/blogkommonsents.

    Holy Saturdayl.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dr Eowyn . . . . God Bless you for including Joseph, the step-father of Jesus Christ. Far too often we dismiss his role in the life of Christ as just incidental. I think that God the Father deliberately choose a very righteous man to guide and watch over his Only Son during the early and formative years of Christ’s life. Joseph deserves great thanks for the role that he was chosen to play.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great Article! Very befitting for this Saturday before Easter Sunday. Thank you are all the time and effort you put in on the behalf of the entire FOTM family.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Many thanks. Some believe the Lord Jesus did not descend into the abyss. But he surely did so, to Hades at least. And I recall, be it Jude or James, (might not have been either, but I’ll find soon as keep reread the NT) that mentions how Christ proclaimed his victory to those beneath the earth.

    Glad to know the truth is respected here, as it should be. Thanks, Dr. Eowyn!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. But Pope Francis said hell doesn’t exist so Jesus could not have gone there. Right?
    And all we have to do to get to heaven is be good. Right?
    And being good is following your conscience even if Jesus would not approve. Right?
    And Paul Ehrlich is right about overpopulation even if it is against science and you don’t agree. Right?
    And to be good we have to limit our numbers and stop breeding like rabbits even if that is not against our consciences. Right?
    And to be good we have to open our borders to massive migration from diverse and hostile cultures even if it means more insecurity and danger to our own right. Righ?
    And to be at one with Christ and receive Holy Communion even if you are an active homosexual or if you are a fornicator that is okay and up to your conscience. Right?
    And premarital sex is okay. Right?
    And remarried Catholics who have not had their earlier marriages annulled and in conformity to the person of Christ and can receive communion. Right/
    And who am I to judge? Right. Francis should step down because he was not meant to be Pope and does not have sound judgment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a sad commentary on the Pope. It has been the unbroken, clear teaching of The Church, that Hell most certainly exists. I even broke out my new copy of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and did a little dusting up.

      I will quote a little of it: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire’. The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs”.

      There is much more to this, of course, but the existence is pretty clear. It seems the new Pope has not studied his catechism or he simply doesn’t like what he reads. Unless he wishes to speak “ex cathedra” on the matter, however, the teaching remains unchanged. Should he choose to attempt to change it, I suspect he would create a firestorm.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jesus was not crucified on a Friday. His own words don’t support this in any way. Nor does just being able to count to three. It was 3 Actual days and Nights. Jesus said (Matthew 12:40) “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Friday afternoon till Sunday at sunrise is NOT “three days and three nights”. Think Christ couldn’t count? But, Wednesday at sundown (start of Thursday) to Saturday at sundown would be “three days and three nights”. In the first century, the new day started at sundown, not midnight. So Jesus went into the tomb Wednesday at sundown (start of Thursday). So we have Thursday 1st night, 1st day. Then we have Friday, 2nd night, 2nd day. Then we have Saturday, 3rd night, 3rd day. Sundown on Saturday is the start of Sunday. Any time after sundown on 3rd Day, Jesus returned to the tomb.


    • Disregarding what Christ suffered on Good Friday and what He did on Holy Saturday, you — like some other commenters on the Good Friday post — instead obsess on and argue about what days of the week. What is your point? I honestly don’t understand Christians like you.


    • Brilliant, as you were there to count and enumerate, so as to best the rabbis and Pharisees who had Him killed. What a guy! Maybe you’d like butter for your bagel? Listen up, smuckaweh, your kind was dispatched a long time ago, and we don’t need reminders of how stupid you are, as you’ve proved that over & over, ok? Get a life, and NOT His.

      Liked by 1 person

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