Holy Saturday — The Keys of Death and Hades




Jesus pulls Adam and Eve out of their graves that lead to Hell or Limbo before he resurrects.  St. Savior in Chora (Istanbul)

The Harrowing of Hell

The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult), which states that Jesus “descended into Hell“. His descent to the underworld has been termed the most controversial phrase in the Apostles’ Creed.


The term “Harrowing of Hell” refers not merely to the idea that Christ descended into Hell, as in the Creed, but to the rich tradition that developed later, asserting that he triumphed over inferos, releasing Hell’s captives, particularly Adam and Eve, and the righteous men and women of Old Testament times.






(631 – 637)



631 Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens.”476 The Apostles’ Creed confesses in the same article Christ’s descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:

Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.477

Paragraph 1. Christ Descended into Hell

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:481 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.”484 The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which 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 sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who 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


636 By the expression “He descended into hell”, the Apostles’ 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 realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

Holy Saturday Stational Church: San Giovanni in Laterano





“Scala Santa”


The staircase of Pilate’s house which Christ descended after his condemnation, so it was given the name of “Scala Santa” which means “Holy Staircase”. A legend related how it had been brought from Jerusalem to Rome by St Helena, mother of Constantine.


There are 28 marble steps protected by wooden boards located in the center of other four staircases, and it is the only one in Rome which is permitted to be ascend only on the knees of worshippers.















Message of March 25, 2009

“Dear children! In this time of spring, when everything is awakening from the winter sleep, you also awaken your souls with prayer so that they may be ready to receive the light of the risen Jesus. Little children, may He draw you closer to His Heart so that you may become open to eternal life. I pray for you and intercede before the Most High for your sincere conversion. Thank you for having responded to my call.”


The Harrowing of Hell, from the Barberini Exultet Roll, ca. AD 1087.


The Gospel of Matthew and its readers By Howard W. Clarke


“Passion, Death, and Resurrection”


pp. 240 – 241


In the Eastern Church the “Harrowing” is a popular subject for church wall paintings, since it illustrates Orthodoxy’s doctrine of theiosis, or deification, whereby the sinner is raised up by divine influence – and, with its vanquished Satan and joyful “saints,” it makes a more dramatic composition than the empty tomb.  Visitors to Venice can see a version on the west vault of St. Mark’s central dome, where Jesus is astride a goggle-eyed Satan who lies bewildered among hell’s keys, locks, and door panels; those to Istanbul can see a mosaic (1310 – 20) in St. Savior in Chora (later the mosque of Kariye), where a white-robed Jesus literally yanks Adam and Eve out of their graves.

22 Responses to “Holy Saturday — The Keys of Death and Hades”

  1. inspirational1 Says:

    Thanks…many have forgotten the real meaning of the days leading up to and after Easter. Its not about the easter bunny…

  2. inspirational1 Says:

    In honor of the 44th President of the United States, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream has issued a new flavor, “Barocky Road.”

    Barocky Road is a blend of half vanilla, half chocolate, surrounded by nuts and flakes. The vanilla portion of the mix is not openly advertised and usually denied as an ingredient. The nuts and flakes are all very bitter and hard to swallow. The cost is $100.00 per scoop. When purchased, it will be presented to you in a large beautiful cone, but then the ice cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you. Thus you are left with an empty wallet, no change, holding an empty cone, with no hope of getting any ice cream. Don’t you feel stimulated?

  3. rosettasister Says:

    inspirational1 Says:

    April 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks…many have forgotten the real meaning of the days leading up to and after Easter. Its not about the easter bunny…


    Thank you, inspirational!

    Can you tell I’ve taught Religion before?

    It was in addition to the Social Studies or Science I was teaching at the time, but I loved it!

    My students and I, we had some special moments together.

    And they often enter into my thoughts.

    I do believe Queens County, New York must be one of the coolest places on earth.

    And I would have to say they raise the nicest children there.

  4. JAC Says:

    I always remember the religious aspect of Easter
    But I gotta admit I love biting off those milk chocolate bunny ears

  5. JAC Says:

    The rest of the week-end will be busy… Soooooo tonight I am having a romantic dinner for myself and the hubby.
    The table is set, candle are ready.. I’m showered and smelling pretty
    I have something sexy laid out for later

    Dinner is
    Baked cornish hens
    sage stuffing
    steamed asparagus with cream sauce
    yeast rolls

    and turtle cheesecake for the late desert 🙂

  6. rosettasister Says:

    JAC Says:

    April 10, 2009 at 10:34 pm



    I want to be married to you in my next lifetime!

  7. Fernley Girl Says:

    I’d be happy with the leftovers! LOL

    Baked cornish hens
    sage stuffing
    steamed asparagus with cream sauce
    yeast rolls

    and turtle cheesecake for the late desert

  8. Fernley Girl Says:


    From the previous thread. I live upwind from Fallon NAS, so I’ve never noticed any adverse effects after seeing the grids. I do, however, glow in the dark because of my Dad being stationed near the Nevada Nuclear Test site during the above-ground testing years!
    (Just kidding-I don’t really glow in the dark, but do consider myself and my late parents to be part of the “downwinders”.)

  9. Troy Says:

    Orly’s site has been hacked again

  10. JAC Says:

    See, I told you long ago Texas was a jinx for my family…. sigh
    I brother-in-law went down there to see someone that was very ill….
    My BiL had a massive heart attack……. he didn’t make it

  11. goferit Says:


    My condolences to you and your family for your loss. I will say a prayer for him at Mass this evening. The promise of a better life IS ahead.

  12. JAC Says:

    thanks goferit

    My sister is taking it very hard

  13. patriotamy Says:

    JAC, so sorry to hear of your family’s loss. Prayers are with you.

  14. rosettasister Says:

    Your heart must just ache for your sister, JAC.

    We all struggle for words to say at times like this.

    Perhaps the following will help a little.

    Poems & Words of Comfort


    All Is Well

    Death is nothing at all,

    I have only slipped into the next room

    I am I and you are you

    Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

    Call me by my old familiar name,

    Speak to me in the easy way which you always used

    Put no difference in your tone,

    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

    Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

    Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,

    Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.

    It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.

    Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?

    I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,

    Just around the corner.

    All is well.

  15. rosettasister Says:

    Vatican Live TV


    Quicktime worked for me.

    I’m guessing the Easter Vigil starts around 11:00 or 11:30 PM Rome time.


    Holy Week ceremonies culminate in Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square. On Saturday night, the pope will celebrate an Easter vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    You can also watch live on cable or at EWTN website:


  16. rosettasister Says:

    Biden – A Legend in His Own Mind

    (Since it is a Holy Day I will be charitable and say that Biden may be suffering from “half-zheimer’s” and is the star of his own movie in his head.)


    To: 2ndDivisionVet; All

    Rove did a good job on “Fox and Friends” this morning. He’s not backing down, as I feared he would.

    In fact, he said he got an email from a listener who pointed out that Biden apparently stole this most recent quote from a similar conversation between FDR and Harry Hopkins. I wish somebody here could locate it, because I couldn’t by just searching google.

    The plagerizer strikes yet again!

    35 posted on Saturday, April 11, 2009 7:28:27 AM by truthkeeper

  17. rosettasister Says:

    April 10th, 2009 3:13 pm

    The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism


    For now, I want to share one very dramatic story with you, one of hundreds, possibly thousands, that are contained in Bostom’s book. It is a powerful and awful tale and it has haunted me ever since I first read about it.

  18. rosettasister Says:

    Check out Argent’s site:

    • Gender: Female
    • Astrological Sign: Leo
    • Location: The South : United States


    I’ve found a lot of Holy Week info there.

  19. JAC Says:

    Thanks everyone…… have been on the phone with family most of the day. You have to call an asshole an asshole…. and he was one of the biggest…
    but having someone in the family for 37 years….. I was only 5 when him and my sister married..

    so today I am remembering the good years. The fishing trips, how when I was a teenager their house was a cool place to be. How he would get up in the middle of the night and pick me up when I was drunk and didn’t want to drive…. no questions asked..
    He would be a royal asshole about it the next day… but for those moments I needed him he was good as gold….

  20. rosettasister Says:

    The Easter Vigil Mass from Rome is on now.

    Please see the links above.

    If you take part, perhaps we could say a special prayer for JAC and her family.


  21. Tenacity Says:

    Did you know that resurrection day starts around sundown. Basically, at the time of Christ, the First day started with the first watch (6 to 9 p.m.), then second watch (9 to 12), third watch (midnight to 3 a.m.) and fourth watch (3 to 6 or sun up). The first hour was 6 to 7 a.m..

    The problem with man made creeds is that they are divisive and often in error. I’ve never seen the purpose of them. That’s why I believe scripture warns against adding to HIS Word.

  22. rosettasister Says:

    Tenacity Says:
    April 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Did you know that resurrection day starts around sundown?


    Hopefully I’m not too far off the mark!

    Happy Easter to all!

    He is Risen!

    New Thread:


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