|In 1855, the following booklet was published for presentation
to children at Catholic churches in Ireland and England.
The Sight of Hell
by Father John Furniss
Table of Contents:
Approbation: I have carefully read over this Little Volume
for Children and have found nothing whatever in it contrary
to the doctrines of Holy Faith; but, on the contrary,
a great deal to charm, instruct, and edify our youthful
classes, for whose benefit it has been written.
William Meagher, Vicar General, Dublin, December 14,
I. Where is Hell?
Ps. Ixii. they shall go into the lower parts of the
Every little child knows that God will reward the good
in heaven and punish the wicked in hell. Where, then,
is hell? Is hell above or below? Is it on the earth, or
in the earth, or below the earth?
It seems likely that hell is in the middle of the earth.
Almighty God has said that "He will turn the wicked
into the bowels of the earth." Eccles xvii
The Earth Opening
In the days of the Jews, there were three very wicked
men. Their names were Core, Dathan, and Abiron. They were
very disobedient to the priests. God had made Moses master
over all the people. He told Moses that he was going to
punish the wicked men. Moses went and told the people
to come away from the wicked men. The people came away.
Then Moses said to them, "By this you shall know that
God has sent me. If these wicked men die like other men,
then do not believe me. But if the earth opens and swallows
them, and they go down alive into hell, then you shall
know that they are wicked."
As soon as Moses had done speaking, the earth broke open
under the feet of the wicked men. It drew them in with
all they had, and they went down alive into hell. Then
the earth closed up over them again. Numb. xvi. The same
thing happened another time, as you'll see.
II. The Burning Mountain
St. Gregory says, "There was a very wicked and cruel
king. His name was Theodoric. He lived in a town called
Ravenna. At the same time there was a holy Pope called
John, living in Rome. One day this holy Pope went to the
town where Theodoric, the cruel king was living. When
Theodoric heard the pope was come, he had him put in prison.
He gave him very little to eat, and was very cruel to
him. In a few days the good pope died in prison. Very
soon after Theodoric had killed the Pope, he killed another
good man called Symmachus. Soon after this the cruel king
Theodoric died himself. You'll see how God punished him.
There is a little island called Stromboli, with water
all around it. On this island there is a great mountain.
Fire is often seen coming out of the top of this mountain.
At that time there was a holy hermit living on the island
in a little cell or room. On the night that cruel king
Theodoric died, it happened that the hermit was looking
out his window. He saw three persons near the top of the
fiery mountain. They were persons who were dead. But he
had seen them all before. So he knew who they were. There
was Theodoric, the cruel king, who had died that night.
The other two were Pope John and Symmachus, who had been
unjustly killed by Theodoric. He saw that Theodoric was
in the middle betwixt the other two. When they came to
that place where the fire was coming out, he saw Theodoric
leave the other two, and go down into the fiery mountain.
So, says St. Gregory, those who had seen the cruel king's
injustice saw also his punishment.
III. How Far is it to Hell?
We know how far it is to the middle of the earth. It
is just four thousand miles. So if hell is in the middle
of the earth, it is four thousand miles to the horrible
prison of hell.
It is time now to do what St. Augustine bids us. He says:
"Let us go down to hell while we live, that we may not
have to go down to hell when we die." If we go and look
at that terrible prison, where those who commit mortal
sin are punished, we shall be afraid to commit mortal
sin. If we do not commit mortal sin, we shall not go to
IV. The Gates Of Hell
Matt. xvi. The gates of hell shall not prevail against
St. Francis of Rome lived a very holy life. Many times
she saw with her eyes her Angel Guardian at her side.
It pleased the Almighty God to let her see many other
wonderful things. Brev Rom. One afternoon the Angel Gabriel
came to take her to see hell. She went with him and saw
that terrible place. Let us follow in her footsteps, that
we might see in spirit the wonderful things which she
saw. Our journey is through the deep dark places under
the earth. Now we will set off. We pass through hundreds
and hundreds of miles of darkness. Now we are coming near
the terrible place. See, there are the gates of hell!
When St. Francis came to the gates of hell, and she read
on them these words, written in letters of fire: "This
is Hell, where there is neither rest, nor consolation,
nor hope." Look, then, at those tremendous gates in front
of you. How large they are. Measure, if you can, the length
and breadth, the height and depth of the terrible gates.
Is. V. "Therefore hath hell opened her mouth without
any bound. Their strong ones and their people, and their
glorious ones, go down into it."
See also the vast thickness, the tremendous strength
of those gates. In a prison on earth there are not, perhaps,
more than two or three hundred prisoners. Still the gates
of a prison are made most strong with iron, and with bars,
and with bolts, and with locks, for fear the prisoners
should break down the gates and get away. Do not wonder,
then, at the immense strength of the gates of hell. In
hell there are not two hundred or three hundred prisoners
only. Millions on millions are shut up there. They are
tormented with the most frightful pains. These dreadful
pains make them furious. Their fury gives them strength,
such as we never saw. We read of a man who had the fury
of hell in him. He was so strong that he could easily
break in pieces great chains of iron. Mark v. The vast
multitudes in hell, strong in their fury and despair,
rush forward like the waves of the sea. They dash themselves
up against the gates of hell to break them in pieces.
This is the reason why these gates are so strong. No hand
of man could make such gates. Jesus Christ said that the
gates in hell should not prevail against his Church, because
in hell there is nothing stronger than its gates.
Do you hear that growling thunder rolling from one end
of hell to the other? The gates of hell are opening.
V. The First Look Into Hell
When the gates of hell had been opened, St. Francis,
with her angel, went forward. She stood on the edge of
the abyss. She saw a sight so terrible that it cannot
be told. She saw that the size of hell was immense. Neither
in height, nor in depth, nor in length, nor in breadth,
could she see any end of it. Is. xxxiv. None shall ever
pass through it. She saw that hell was divided into three
immense places. These three places were at a great distance
from one another. There was an upper hell, and a middle
hell, and a lower hell. Wisd. 17. "Night came upon them
from the lowest and deepest hell." She saw that in the
upper hell, the torments were very grievous. In the middle
hell they were still more terrible. In the lowest hell
the torments were above all understanding. When she had
looked into this terrible place, her blood was frozen
Now look into hell and see what she saw. Look at the
floor of hell. It is red hot like red hot iron. Streams
of burning pitch and sulfur run through it. Is. xxxiv
The floor blazes up to the roof. Look at the walls, the
enormous stones are red hot; sparks of fire are always
falling down from them. Lift up your eyes to the roof
of hell; it is like a sheet of blazing fire. Sometimes
when you get up on a winter's morning, you see the country
filled with a great thick fog. Hell is filled with a fog
of fire. In some parts of the world torrents of rain come
down which sweep away trees and houses. In hell, torrents,
not of rain, but of fire and brimstone, are rained down.
Ps. x. "The Lord shall rain down on sinners fire and brimstone."
Storms of hail stones come down on the earth and break
the windows in pieces. But in hell the hail stones are
thunder bolts, red hot balls of fire. Job xli. God shall
send thunder bolts against him. See that great whirlwind
of fire sweeping across hell. Storms of wind shall be
the portion of their cup. PS. X. Look how floods of fire
roll themselves through hell like the waves of the sea.
The wicked are sunk down and buried in the fiery sea of
destruction and perdition. I Tim. vi. You may have seen
a house on fire. But you never saw a house made of fire.
Hell is a house made of fire. The fire of hell burns the
devils who are spirits, for it was prepared for them.
Matt. xxv. So it will burn the soul as well as the body.
Take a spark out of the kitchen fire, throw it into the
sea, and it will go out. Take a little spark out of hell,
less than a pin-head, throw it into the ocean, it will
not go out. In one moment it would dry up all the waters
of the ocean, and set the whole world ablaze. Wisd. Xvi
The fire, above its power, burnt in the midst of water.
Set a house or town on fire. Perhaps the fire may burn
for a week, or a month, but it will go out at last. But
the fire of hell will never go out; it will burn forever.
It is unquenchable fire. Mat. iv. St. Teresa says that
the fire on the earth is only a picture of the fire of
hell. Fire on earth gives light. But it is not so in hell.
In hell the fire is dark.
Is. xxi. Watchman, what of the night? The Watchman
said the night cometh.
The Watchman did not say the nights are coming, but only
the night. He said so, because in hell there is only one
night, one eternal night, one everlasting night. The fire
in hell burns, but gives no light. Wisd.ii. No fire could
give them light. No stray sunbeam, no wandering ray of
star light ever creeps into the darkness of hell. All
is darkness thick, black, heavy, pitchy, aching
darkness. It is not darkness like ours, which is only
an image of the darkness to come. Wisd. xviii. This darkness
is thicker than the darkness of the land of Egypt, which
could be touched with the hand. So the wicked in hell
will never see light. Ps.xlviii. This darkness is made
worse by the smoke of hell.
Apoc. Xvi The smoke of their torments shall go up forever
and ever. Stop up the chimney where the fire is burning.
In half an hour the room will be full of smoke, so that
you cannot stay there. The great fires of hell have been
smoking now for nearly six thousand years. They will go
on smoking forever. There is no chimney to take this smoke
off; there is no wind to blow it away. See those great
black, heavy sulphurous clouds rising up every moment
from the dark fires. They rise up till the roof of hell
stops them. The roof drives them back again. Slowly they
go down into the abyss of hell. There they are joined
by more dark clouds of smoke leaving the fires. So hell
is filled with sulfur and smoke, in which no one on earth
could breathe or live. How then do they live in hell?
In hell they must live, but they are stifled and choked
each moment, as if they were dying. Now listen!
IX. Terrific Noise
Exodus xi. There shall be a great cry, such as hath
not been heard before.
You have heard, perhaps, a horrible scream in the dead
of night. You may have heard the last shriek of a drowning
man before he went down into his watery grave. You may
have been shocked in passing a madhouse, to hear the wild
shout of a madman. Your heart may have trembled when you
heard the roar of a lion in the desert, or the hissing
of a deadly serpent in the bushes.
But listen now listen to the tremendous, the horrible
uproar of millions and millions and millions of tormented
creatures mad with the fury of hell. Oh, the screams of
fear, the groanings of horror, the yells of rage, the
cries of pain, the shouts of agony, the shrieks of despair
of millions on millions. There you hear them roaring like
lions, hissing like serpents, howling like dogs, and wailing
like dragons. There you hear the gnashing of teeth and
the fearful blasphemies of the devils. Above all, you
hear the roaring of the thunders of God's anger, which
shakes hell to its foundations. But there is another sound!
X. A River
Is. xxii. It is the day of slaughter, and of treading
down, and of weeping to the Lord God of hosts.
There is in hell a sound like that of many waters. It
is as if all the rivers and oceans of the world were pouring
themselves with a great splash down on the floor of hell.
Is it then really the sound of waters? It is. Are the
rivers and oceans of the earth pouring themselves into
hell? No. What is it then? It is the sound of oceans of
tears running from the countless millions of eyes. They
cry night and day. They cry forever and ever. They cry
because the sulphurous smoke torments their eyes. They
cry because they are in darkness. They cry because they
have lost the beautiful heaven. They cry because the sharp
fire burns them.
Little child, it is better to cry one tear of repentance
now than to cry millions of tears in hell. But what is
that dreadful sickening smell?
XI. The Smell Of Death
Joel ii. His stench shall ascend, and his rottenness
shall go up.
There are some diseases so bad, such as cancers and ulcers,
that people cannot bear to breathe the air in the house
where they are. There is something worse. It is the smell
of death coming from a dead body lying in the grave. The
dead body of Lazarus had been in the grave only four days.
Yet Martha, his sister, could not bear that it should
be taken out again. But what is the smell of death in
hell? St. Bonaventure says that if one single body was
taken out of hell and laid on the earth, in that same
moment every living creature on the earth would sicken
and die. Such is the smell of death from one body in hell.
What then will be the smell of death from countless millions
and millions of bodies laid in hell like sheep?
Ps. How will the horrible smell of all these bodies be,
after it has been getting worse and worse every moment
for ten thousand years? Is. ixvi. "They shall go out and
see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against
me. They shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh."
Now let us enter into hell and see the tremendous torments
prepared for the wicked.
XII. The Devil
Apoc. xx. An angel laid hold on the old serpent, which
is the devil and Satan, and bound him, and cast him into
the bottomless pit, and shut him up.
Our journey lies across the great sea of fire. We must
go on till we come to the middle of hell. There we shall
see the most horrible site that ever was or will be
the great devil chained down in the middle of hell. We
will set off on our journey. Now we are coming near the
dwelling place of Satan. The darkness gets thicker. You
see a greater number of devils moving about in the thick
darkness. They come to get the orders of their great chief.
Already you hear the rattling of the tremendous chains
of the great monster! See! there he is the most
horrible and abominable of all monsters, the devil. His
size is immense! Is.viii. He shall fill the length of
the land. St. Francis saw him. He was sitting on a long
beam which passed through the middle of hell. His feet
went down into the lowest depths of hell. They rested
on the floor of hell. They were fastened with great, heavy
iron chains. These chains were fixed to an immense ring
in the floor. His hands were chained up to the roof. One
of his hands was turned up against heaven, to blaspheme
God and the saints who dwell there. Apoc. xiii. His other
hand was stretched out, pointing to the lowest hell. His
tremendous and horrible head was raised up on high, and
touched the roof. From his head came two immense horns.
Apoc. Xiii I saw another beast having two horns. From
each horn smaller horns, without number, branched out,
which, like chimneys, sent out fire and smoke. His enormous
mouth was wide open. Out of it there was running a river
of fire, which gave no light, but a most abominable smell.
Job xli. Flame cometh out of his mouth. Round his neck
was a collar of red hot iron. A burning chain tied him
round the middle. The ugliness of his face was such that
no man or devil could bear it. It was the most deformed,
horrible, frightful thing that ever was or will be. His
great fierce eyes were filled with pride and anger, and
rage, and spite, and blood, and fire, and savage cruelty.
There was something else in those eyes for which there
is no name, but it made those on whom the devil's eyes
were fixed tremble and shake as if they were dying. One
of the saints who saw the devil said she would rather
be burnt for a thousand years than look at the devil for
XIII. What the Devil does in Hell
Job.xli. He beholdeth every high thing, he is king
over all the children of pride.
As the devil is king of hell, he does two things. First,
he gives his orders to the other devils about tempting
people in the world. Without his leave, no one in hell
can stir hand or foot. Millions and millions of devils
are always round him, waiting for his orders. Every day
he sends wicked spirits, whose numbers cannot be counted,
into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, into every country,
and town, and village, and house, and to every human creature.
He sends them for temptation and the ruin of souls. He
tells each devil whom he must tempt, what he must do,
and when he must come back. St. Francis saw that when
these devils came back, if they had not made people commit
sin, they were cruelly beaten. When a child is tempted,
how little it thinks that the temptation has been got
ready in hell, that there is a devil at its side who has
brought the temptation, and this devil is breathing the
temptation into its heart, and trying to make it do what
the bad company wants it to do.
XIV. 2 Judgment
As the devil is king of hell, he is also judge. When
a soul comes into hell, condemned by the judgment of God,
he executes the judgment. He fixes whereabouts in hell
the soul is to be, how it is to be tormented, and what
devils are to torment it. In a moment you will see his
judgment on a soul.
XV. A Soul Coming into Hell
St. Francis saw souls coming into hell after they had
been condemned by the judgment of God. They came with
letters of fire written on their foreheads. Apoc.xii.
He shall make all, both little and great, have a character
on their forehead. On their foreheads were written the
names of the sins for which they had been condemned in
hell. Blaspheming, or impurity, or stealing, or drunkenness,
or not hearing Mass on Sundays, or not going to the Sacraments.
As soon as any of the souls came to the gates of hell,
the devils went and seized hold of it. Job xx. The terrible
ones shall go and come down upon him. But what sort of
devils took hold of these souls? The prophet Daniel saw
one of them. He says, chapter vii."I beheld, in a vision
by night, a beast, terrible and wonderful, and exceeding
strong. It had great iron teeth, eating and breaking in
pieces, and treading down the rest with its teeth. How
do the devils take hold of these souls? As the lions in
Babylon took hold of those who were thrown into their
When the people were thrown over the wall into the den,
the lions opened their mouths and roared, and caught the
people in their mouths and crushed them, even before they
had fallen to the ground. So is a soul received by the
devils when it comes to hell.
XVI. The Soul Before Satan
The devils carry away the soul which has just come into
hell. They bear it through the flames. Now they have set
it down in front of the great chained monster, to be judged
by him, who has no mercy. Oh, that horrible face of the
devil! Oh, the fright, the shivering, the freezing, the
deadly horror of that soul at the first sight of the great
devil. Now the devil opens his mouth. He gives out the
tremendous sentence on the soul. All hear the sentence,
and hell rings with shouts of spiteful joy and mockeries
at the unfortunate soul.
XVII. The Everlasting Dwelling-place
of the Soul
As soon as the sentence is given, the soul is snatched
away and hurried to that place which is to be its home
forever and ever! Crowds of hideous devils have met together.
With cries of spiteful joy they receive the soul. Is.xxxiv.
Demons and monsters shall meet. The hairy ones shall cry
out to one another. See how these devils receive the soul
in this time of destruction. Eccus.xxxix. In the time
of destruction, they shall pour out their force. The teeth
of serpents and beasts, and scorpions, the sword taking
vengeance on ungodly unto destruction.
Immediately the soul is thrust by the devils into that
prison which is to be its dwelling-place for ever more.
The prison of each soul is different, according to its
St. Teresa found herself squeezed into a hole or chest
in the wall. Here the walls, which were most terrible,
seemed to close upon her and strangle her. She found her
soul burning in a most horrible fire. It seemed as if
someone was always tearing her soul in pieces, or rather
as if the soul was always tearing itself in pieces. It
was impossible to sit or lie down, for there was no room.
As soon as the soul is fixed in its place, it finds two
devils, one on each side of it. They are spirits created
for vengeance, and in their fury they lay on grievous
torments. Eccus.xxxix. St. Francis saw them. One of them
is called the Striking devil, the other the Mocking devil.
XVIII. The Striking Devil
Prov.xix. Striking hammers are prepared for the bodies
If you want to know what sort of stroke the devil can
give, hear how he struck Job, chapter ii, "Satan went
forth from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with
a grievous ulcer from the sole of his foot to the top
of his head. Then Job took a tile and scraped off the
corrupt matter, sitting on a dung-hill. Now when Job's
friends heard all the evil that had come upon him, they
came to him. For they had made an appointment to come
together and visit and comfort him. And when they had
lifted up their eyes afar off, they did not know him.
And crying, they wept and sprinkled dust on their heads.
And they sat down with him on the ground for seven days
and seven nights. And no one spoke a word to him, for
they saw that his grief was very great.
The devil gave Job one stroke, only one stroke. That
one stroke was so terrible that it covered all his body
with sores and ulcers. That one stroke made Job look so
frightful, that his friends did not know him again. That
one stroke was so terrible, that for seven days and seven
nights his friends did not speak a word, but sat crying,
and wondering, and thinking what a terrible stroke the
devil can give.
Little child, if you go to hell there will be a devil
at your side to strike you. He will go on striking you
every minute for ever and ever, without ever stopping.
The first stroke will make your body as bad as the body
of Job, covered from head to foot with sores and ulcers.
The second stroke will make your body twice as bad as
the body of Job. The third stroke will make your body
with three times as bad as the body of Job. The fourth
stroke will make your body four times as bad as the body
of Job. How then will your body be after the devil has
been striking it every moment for a hundred million of
years without stopping?
But there was one good thing for Job. When the devil
had struck Job, his friends came to visit and comfort
him, and when they saw him they cried. But when the devil
is striking you in hell, there will be no one to come
and visit and comfort you, and cry with you. Neither father,
nor mother, nor brother, nor sister, nor friend will ever
come to cry with you. Lam.i. "Weeping she hath wept in
the night, and the tears are on her cheeks, because there
is none to comfort her amongst all them that were dear
to her." Little child, it is a bad bargain to make with
the devil, to commit a mortal sin, and then to be beaten
for ever for it.
XIX. The Mocking Devil
Hab.ii. Shall they not take up a parable against him,
a dark speech concerning him?
St. Francis saw that on the other side of the soul there
was another devil to mock at and reproach it. Hear what
mockeries he said to it. "Remember," he said, "remember
where you are and where you will be for ever; how short
the sin was, how long the punishment. It is your own fault;
when you committed that mortal sin, you knew how you would
be punished. What a good bargain you made to take the
pains of eternity in exchange for the sin of a day, an
hour, a moment. You cry now for your sin, but your crying
comes too late. You liked bad company, you will find bad
company enough here. Your father was a drunkard, and showed
you the way to the public-house; he still is a drunkard,
look at him over there drinking red hot fire. You were
too idle to go to Mass on Sundays, be as a idle as you
like now, for there is no Mass to go to. You disobeyed
your father, but you dare not disobey him who is your
father in hell; look at him, that great chained monster;
disobey him if you dare."
St. Francis saw that these mockeries put the soul into
such dreadful despair of that it burst out into the most
frightful howlings and blasphemies.
But it is time for us now to see where the sinner has
been put his everlasting dwelling-place.
XX. A Bed of Fire
The sinner lies chained down on a bed of red-hot blazing
fire! When a man, sick of fever, is lying on even a soft
bed, it is pleasant sometimes to turn round. If the sick
man lies on the same side for a long time, the skin comes
off, the flesh gets raw. How will it be when the body
has been lying on the same side on the scorching, broiling
fire for a hundred millions of years! Now look at that
body lying on the bed of fire. All the body is salted
with fire. The fire burns through every bone and every
muscle. Every nerve is trembling and quivering with the
sharp fire. The fire rages inside and the skull, it shoots
out through the eyes, it drops out through the ears, it
roars in the throat as it roars up a chimney. So will
mortal sin be punished. Yet there are people in their
senses who commit mortal sin!
Is.lxv1. The Worm that dieth not. Judith xvi.
"He will give fire and worms into their flesh, that
they may burn and feel for ever." St. Basil says,
that in hell there are will be worms without number eating
the flesh, and their bites will be unbearable." St. Teresa
says that she found the entrance into hell filled with
these venomous insects. If you cannot bear the sight of
ugly vermin and creeping things on the earth, will you
be content with the sight of the venomous things in hell,
which are a million times worse? The bite or the pricking
of one insect on the earth sometimes keeps you awake,
and torments you for hours. How will you feel in hell,
when millions of them make their dwelling-place in your
mouth, and ears, and eyes, and creep all over you, and
sting you with their deadly stings through all eternity.
You will not then be able to help yourself, or send them
away, because you cannot stir hand or foot. One of the
most painful stings in the world is to be much frightened.
Wisd. xvii. "While they thought to lie hid in their
obscure sins, they were horribly afraid and troubled.
For neither did the den which held them keep them from
fear. For noises coming down troubled them, and sad visions
appearing to them, affrighted them."
Do you know what is meant by being frightened out of
one's senses? A boy wanted to frighten two other little
boys. In the daytime he took some phosphorus and marked
with it the form of a skeleton on the wall of the room
where the little boys always slept. In the daytime the
mark of phosphorus is not seen; in the dark it shines
like fire. The two little boys went to bed, knowing nothing
about it. Next morning they opened the door of the room
where the two little boys had been sleeping. They found
one boy sitting on his bed, staring at the wall, out of
his senses. The other little boy was lying dead! This
You will be lying helpless in the lonesome darkness of
hell. The devils come in the most frightful shapes on
purpose to frighten you. Serpents come and hiss at you.
Wild beasts come and roar at you. Death comes and stares
at you. How would you feel, if at the dark hour of midnight,
one that was dead should come to your bedside and stand
over you and mock at you? You hear the most horrible shrieks
and dismal sounds, which you cannot understand. The sinner,
frightened out of his senses at those terrible sights
in the darkness of hell, roars out for help, but there
is nobody to come and help him in his fright.
Wisd. XviiBeing scared with the passing of beasts
and hissing of serpents, they died of fear.
The greatest pain of hell has not yet been told. You
shall hear it now.
XXIII. The Pain of Loss
It is easy to understand the other pains of hell, because
there are pains like them on earth. But it is difficult
to understand the pain of loss, because there is nothing
like it on earth. You must know that when a soul has been
condemned to hell at the judgment-seat, God lets it see
for a moment something of what it has lost. It sees the
immense happiness it would have had in heaven with God
and his angels and saints. And now it sees that all this
blessed happiness is lost lost by its own fault,
lost for ever, lost without hope! Listen to the painful
cry of a child which has lost its mother! Listened to
the wailings of the people in Ireland when their sister
is leaving them to go to America, and perhaps they will
never see her any more. Then you may think what a wailing
there will be when a soul hears these words from God:
"Depart from me for ever." Listen to the shriek of that
mad man shut up in the mad-house; he lost his money, his
brain turned, and he became mad. Then you may think how
the soul will shriek when it sees that it has lost heaven.
Listen to that splash in the river. A man threw himself
off the bridge; as she was falling down into the river,
he roared out his: "I can bear death, but I cannot bear
this loss." Listen to the tremendous roar at the judgment-seat.
The soul dashes itself from the judgment-seat down into
the flames of hell, roaring out: "I can bear the fire
of hell, but I cannot bear the loss of heaven after I
have seen what heaven is." Listen again to the devils
in hell, and you will hear them crying out: "I would gladly
burn here for millions of years if I could only see God
for one moment."
Jez.xxiii. In the latter days you shall understand
Now look at those little doors all round the walls of
hell. They are little rooms or dungeons where sinners
are shut up. We will go and look at some of them.
XXIV. The Dungeons of Hell.
The First Dungeon - A Dress of Fire
Job xxxviii. Are not thy garments hot? Come into this
room. You see it is very small. But see, in the midst
of it there is a girl, perhaps about eighteen years old.
What a terrible dress she has on her dress is made
of fire. On her head she wears a bonnet of fire. It is
pressed down close all over her head; it burns her head;
it burns into the skin; it scorches the bone of the skull
and makes it smoke. The red hot fiery heat goes into the
brain and melts it. Ezech. xxii. I will burn you in the
fire of my wrath; you shall be melted in the midst thereof
as silver is melted in the fire. You do not, perhaps,
like a headache. Think what a headache that girl must
have. But see more. She is wrapped up in flames, for her
frock is fire. If she were on earth she would be burnt
to a cinder in a moment. But she is in hell, where fire
burns everything, but burns nothing away. There she stands
burning and scorched; there she will stand for ever burning
and scorched! She counts with her fingers the moments
as they pass away slowly, for each moment seems to her
like a hundred years. As she counts the moments she remembers
that she will have to count them for ever and ever.
When that girl was alive she never thought about God
or her soul. She cared only for one thing; and that was
dress! Instead of going to Mass on Sundays, she went about
the town and the parks to show off her dress. She disobeyed
her father and mother by going to dancing-houses and all
kinds of bad places to show off her dress. And now her
dress is her punishment. For by what things a man sinneth,
by the same also is he tormented. Wisd. xi.
XXV. The Second Dungeon.
The Deep Pit
Luke xvi. It came to pass that the rich man also died,
and he was buried in the fire of hell. Think of a coffin,
not made of wood, but of fire, solid fire! And now come
into this other room. You see a pit, a deep, almost bottomless
pit. Look down it and you will see something red hot and
burning. It is a coffin, a red hot coffin of fire. A certain
man is lying, fastened in the inside of that coffin of
fire. You might burst open a coffin made of iron; but
that coffin made of solid fire never can be burst open.
There that man lies and will lie for ever in the fiery
coffin. It burns him from beneath. The sides of it scorch
him. The heavy burning lid on the top presses down close
upon him. The horrible heat in the inside chokes him;
he pants for breath; he cannot breathe; he cannot bear
it; he gets furious. He gathers up his knees and pushes
out his hands against the top of the coffin to burst it
open. His knees and hands are fearfully burnt by the red
hot lid. No matter, to be choked is worse. He tries with
all his strength to burst open the coffin. He cannot do
it. He has no strength remaining. He gives it up and sinks
down again. Again the horrible choking. Again he tries;
again he sinks down; so he will go on for ever and ever!
This man was very rich. Instead of worshiping God, he
worshipped his money. Morning, noon and night, he thought
about nothing but his money. He was clothed in purple
and fine linen. He feasted sumptuously every day. He was
hard-hearted to the poor. He let a poor man die at his
door, and would not even give him the crumbs that fell
from his table. When he came into hell the devil mocked
him, saying: What did pride profit you, or what advantage
did the boasting of riches bring you; all those things
have passed away like a shadow. Then the devil's sentence
was that since he was so rich in the world, he should
be very poor in hell, and have nothing but a narrow, burning
XXVI. The Third Dungeon.
The Red Hot Floor
Look into this room. What a dreadful place it is! The
roof is red hot; the floor is like a thick sheet of red
hot iron. See, on the middle of that red hot floor stands
a girl. She looks about sixteen years old. Her feet are
bare, she has neither shoes nor stockings on her feet;
her bare feet stand on the red hot burning floor. The
door of this room has never been opened before since she
first set her foot on the red hot floor. Now she sees
that the door is opening. She rushes forward. She has
gone down on her knees on the red hot floor. Listen, she
speaks! She says; "I have been standing with my feet on
this red hot floor for years. Day and night my only standing
place has been this red hot floor. Sleep never came on
me for a moment, that I might forget this horrible burning
floor. Look," she says, "at my burnt and bleeding feet.
Let me go off this burning floor for one moment, only
for one single, short moment. Oh, that in the endless
eternity of years, I might forget the pain only for one
single,short moment." The devil answers her question:
"Do you ask," he says, "for a moment, for one moment to
forget your pain. No, not for one single moment during
the never-ending eternity of years shall you ever leave
this red hot floor!" "Is it so?" the girl asks with a
sigh, that seems to break her heart; "then, at least,
let somebody go to my little brothers and sisters, who
are alive, and tell them not to do the bad things which
I did, so they will never have to come and stand on the
red hot floor." The devil answers her again: "Your little
brothers and sisters have the priests to tell them these
things. If they will not listen to the priests, neither
would they listen even if somebody should go to them from
Oh, that you could hear the horrible, the fearful scream
of that girl when she saw the door shutting, never to
be opened any more. The history of this girl is short.
Her feet first led her into sin, so it is her feet which,
most of all, are tormented. While yet a very little child,
she began to go into bad company. The more she grew up,
the more she went into bad company against the bidding
of her parents. She used to walk around the streets at
night, and do very wicked things. She died early. Her
death was brought on by the bad life she led.
XXVII. The Fourth Dungeon.
The Boiling Kettle
Amos iv. The days shall come when they shall lift
you up on pikes, and what remains of you in boiling pots.
Look into this little prison. In the middle of it there
is a boy, a young man. He is silent; despair is on him.
He stands straight up. His eyes are burning like two burning
coals. Two long flames come out of his ears. His breathing
is difficult. Sometimes he opens his mouth and breath
of blazing fire rolls out of it. But listen! There is
a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really
a kettle which is boiling? No; then what is it? Hear what
it is. The blood is boiling in the scalded veins of that
boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The
marrow is boiling in his bones! Ask him, put the question
to him, why is he thus tormented? His answer is, that
when he was alive, his blood boiled to do very wicked
things, and he did them, and it was for that he went to
dancing-houses, public-houses, and theatres. Ask him,
does he think the punishment greater than he deserves?
"No," he says, "my punishment is not greater than I deserve,
it is just. I knew it not so well on earth, but I know
now that it is just. There is a just and a terrible God.
He is terrible to sinners in hellbut He is just!"
XXVIII. The Fifth Dungeon.
The Red Hot Oven
Ps. XxThou shalt make him as an oven of fire in the
time of thy anger. You are going to see again the
child about which you read in the Terrible Judgement,
that it was condemned to hell. See! It is a pitiful sight.
The little child is in this red hot oven. Hear how it
screams to come out. See how it turns and twists itself
about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof
of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of
the oven. You can see on the face of this little child
what you see on the faces of all in hell despair,
desperate and horrible! The same law which is for others
is also for children. If children, knowingly and willingly,
break God's commandments, they must also be punished like
others. This child committed very bad mortal sins, knowing
well the harm of what it was doing, and knowing that hell
would be the punishment. God was very good to this child.
Very likely God saw that this child would get worse and
worse, and would never repent, and so it would have to
be punished much more in hell. So God, in His mercy, called
it out of the world in its early childhood.
The Sixth Dungeon
Listen at this door. Hear that voice; how sad and sorrowful
it sounds. It says: "Oh, I am lost, I am lost. I am lost
when I might have been saved. I am in hell, and I might
have been in heaven. How short my sin,how long the punishment!
Besides I might have repented; I might have told that
sin, but I was ashamed to confess it. Oh, the day on which
I was born, I wish that it had never been. Accursed be
that day; but I am lost -lost- lost for ever-for ever-for
ever. The voice dies away, and you hear it no more!
The prophet Isaias, chapter ix., says that hunger will
be so horrible, that every one shall eat the flesh of
his own arm.
Do you hear that man roaring out in the middle of hell?
How loud his voice is! It rises above all the groans,
and shrieks, and cries, and screams of millions. With
a voice like thunder he roars out: "Oh, a drop of cold
water, a drop of cold water to cool my tongue; my tongue
is thirsty, my tongue is burning, my tongue is red hot.
Give me a drop of cold water, only one single drop of
cold water to cool my burning tongue." The devil answers
his roar with another roar: "You fool," he says,"you drunkard,
why do you cry out for cold water to cool your burning
tongue; there is no cold water in hell." Still the drunkard
goes on roaring for a drop of cold water. Now the devil
lifts up a scourge of fire to strike him and make him
hold his tongue. Then the drunkard sinks down into a deep
pool of fire and brimstone, where he is drowned in destruction
You drunkards, who on Saturday evenings are in the public-house,
and on Sundays away from Mass; you drunkards, whose children
are hungered and in rags, and go neither to Catechism
nor Mass, go down to hell, and listen to your brother
drunkard crying out for a drop of cold water to cool his
XXX. No Peace
Job x. A land of misery and darkness, where the shadow
of death, and no order but everlasting horror dwelleth.
See those children in dreadful anger beating their parents.
They fly at them; they try to take life away from those
who give them life. "Cursed parents," they shout,"if you
had not given us bad example, we should not now be in
hell." "Accursed father," cries a boy,"it was you that
showed me the way to the public-house." "Accursed mother,"
cries a daughter, "it was you who taught me to love the
world. You never warned me when I went into that company
which was my ruin." "Cursed husband," cries that wife,
"before I knew you I was good; I obeyed the laws of God.
It was you that led me away from God, and made me break
His laws. Like the devil you ruined my soul, and like
the devil I will torment you for ever and ever."
1 Kings xxv. When Nabel heard the words of his wife,
his heart died within him and he became as a stone.
Did you ever see two deadly vipers fly at each other?
Their eyes burn with rage. They shoot out their poisoned
stings. They struggle to give each other the death-blow.
They struggle till they have torn the flesh and blood
from each other. You may see the like of this in hell.
See that young man and young woman how changed
they are! They loved each other so much on earth, that
for this they broke the laws of God and man. But now they
fight each other like two vipers, and so they will fight
for all eternity.
A Picture of Hell
There was a glass which made things look three million
times larger than they really are. A drop of dirty water
was looked at through this glass. Millions of frightful
little insects were seen in the water. These insects seemed
to be always fighting, beating and trying to kill each
other. They gave themselves no rest. It was always fighting,
beating beating, fighting. Sometimes thousands
would throw themselves on other thousands and swallow
them up alive. Sometimes they tore away pieces from each
others bodies, which still remained alive, only looking
more frightful than before. Such is hell!
Matt. xxv. These shall go into everlasting punishment.
There is one thing which could change hell into heaven.
An angel of God comes to the gates of hell and says: "Listen
to me, all ye people in hell, for I bring you good news.
You will still burn in hell for almost countless millions
of years. But a day will come, and on that day the pains
of hell will be no more! You will go out of hell." If
such a message came, hell would no longer be hell. Hell
would no longer be a house of blasphemy, but a house of
prayer and thanksgiving and joy. But such a message will
never come to hell, because God has said that the punishment
of hell shall be everlasting!
You say what is meant by everlasting? It is both easy
and difficult to answer this question. It is easy to say
that the pains of hell will last for ever, and never have
any and. It is difficult to answer the question, because
our understandings are too little to understand what is
meant by the word ever. We know very well what is meant
by a year, a million of years, a hundred million of years.
But for ever eternity what is that?
A Measure -A Bird
We can measure almost anything. We can measure a field
or a road. We can measure the earth. We can measure how
far it is from the earth to the sun. Only one thing there
is which never has been an never will be measured, and
that is eternity for ever!
Think of a great solid iron ball, larger than the heavens
and the earth. A bird comes once in a hundred millions
of years and just touches the great iron ball with a feather
of its wing. Think that you have to burn in a fire till
the bird has worn the great iron ball away with its feather.
Is this eternity? No.
XXXII. Tears Sand Dots
Think that a man in hell cries only one single tear in
ten hundred millions of years. Tell me, how many millions
of years must pass before he fills a little basin with
his tears? How many millions of years must pass before
he cries as many tears as their were drops of water that
the deluge? How many years must pass before he has drowned
the heavens and earth with his tears? Is this eternity?
Turn all the earth into little grains of sand, and fill
all the skies and the heavens with little grains of sand.
After each hundred millions of years, one grain of sand
is taken away; oh, what a long, long time it would be
before the last grain of sand was taken away. Is this
After such a long, long time will God still punish sinners?
Yes. Is. ix. After all this his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still stretched out. How long, then, will
the punishment of sinners go on? For ever, and ever, and
XXXIII. What are they Doing?
Perhaps at this moment, seven o'clock in the evening,
a child is just going into hell. Tomorrow evening at seven
o'clock, go and knock at the gates of hell, and ask what
the child is doing. The devils will go and look. Then
they will come back again and say, the child is burning!
Go in a week and asked what the child is doing; you will
get the same answer it is burning! Go in a year
and ask; the same answer comes it is burning! Go
in a million of years and ask the same question; the answer
is just the same it is burning! So, if you go for
ever and ever, you will always get the same answer it
is burning in the fire!
What O'clock The Dismal Sound
Look at that deep pool of fire and brimstone. See a man
has just lifted his head up out of it. He wants to ask
a question. He speaks to a devil who is standing near
him. He says: "What a long, long time it seems since I
first came to hell; I have been sunk down in this deep
pool of burning fire. Years and years have passed away.
I kept no count of time. Tell me, then, what o'clock is
it?" "You fool," the devil answers, "why do you ask what
o'clock it is, there is no clock in hell; a clock is to
tell the time with. But in hell time is no more. It is
eternity!" Ps. lxxx. There time shall be for ever.
Perhaps on a dark lonesome night you may have seen something
waving backwards and forwards in the air. The sound of
it was sad and mournful and. It frightened you, although
it was but the branch of a tree.
Such a sound there is in hell. It passes on without stopping
from one end of hell to the other. As it comes sweeping
past you hear it. What, then, is this dismal sound?
It is the sound of eternity ever! ever!
XXXIV. Too Late
Let us ask one of those souls scorched in the flames
of hell, to come and kneel before the Cross and see if
its sins can be forgiven, and if it may come out of hell.
"Poor soul, then burning in the unquenchable fire of
hell, come and kneel before the Cross of Christ, and ask
him for pardon."
See now that soul is kneeling before the Cross.
The Prayer of a Lost Soul
This lost soul says: "O Christ, I am tormented in this
flame. Day and night the tears run down from my eyes,
like torrents. O Christ, you were my Creator; you redeemed
me; you are a merciful God. I come before you to ask if
I may go out of this terrible fire where I am tormented."
The Answer of Jesus Christ
"Unhappy soul!" Jesus says, "I have pity for you to,
because, indeed, I was your Creator, and I did not create
you for pain but for happiness. I wished you to be in
heaven and not in hell. How could I wish you to be in
hell, seeing what I did to save you from hell? Remember
how I came down from heaven to the very earth to save
you from hell. Do you remember how I was mocked and spit
upon, and pierced with thorns; I was nailed to the wood
of the cross, and died in shame and cruel agony. What
was all this for? It was for you, to save you from hell.
And if this is not enough, I will tell you, that from
all eternity I was thinking how to save you, and my heart
was thirsting to save you. I cared for your happiness
more than for my own, for I left my own happiness in heaven
and went down to the earth to be tormented for your sake.
When my Father, who is in heaven, had seen what I had
done for you, he said, ' Surely I will give that soul
all the graces it needs, and a thousand times more than
it needs, to save itself.'
"Then the days of your life came. You were not made like
the beasts of the field. You had sense and understanding
to know that it is right to do good, and wrong to do evil.
Besides, I said to you: ' Do good and you shall be happy
for ever in heaven; but if you do evil you shall be punished
for ever in hell.' I wrote this on your heart. You heard
it with your ears thousands of times during your life.
You knew, you felt that what I said was right and just.
If on earth a man deserves punishment who breaks a law
of one who is only a man, how much more does he deserve
punishment who breaks the law made by Me, his Creator
and his God.
"Then you, knowing full well that hell would be the punishment,
did evil. You broke my Commandments. Then I might, in
justice, have sent you to hell. But I did not. I had pity
on you; I warned you to repent a. I told you repentance
was easy. Instead of repenting you broke my laws again,
and again, and again. You went on breaking my law. I went
on asking, begging of you to repent. In the anguish of
my heart I asked you to save your soul from everlasting
punishment. But you despised all my counsels, you neglected
my reprehensions, you treated me most ungratefully, as
you would not have done to any man on the earth. You seemed
to be weary of my kindness. But I, who knew what punishment
was coming upon you, was not weary with trying to save
you from it.
"The days fixed for your life were coming to an end.
A thousand times I brought to your remembrance that death
which was coming swiftly. You did not care. The last moment
of your life came and nothing had been done. You had done
everything except the one great thing to try to
save your soul. If you had only taken a little of that
trouble to save your soul, which you threw away on a thousand
trifling things, your soul would have been saved. Death
came. You stood before my judgment-seat. You were condemned
to the eternal punishments of hell. You confessed that
my sentence was just. You could not deny it. And now you
come and ask me to change the everlasting sentence, and
let you go out of hell. I promised eternal happiness to
those who do good, punishment in hell to those who do
evil. I must keep my promise I cannot break it.
It was a mercy that the punishment of hell was made everlasting.
If so many broke my law, knowing that the punishment would
be everlasting, how would it have been if the punishment
had not been everlasting? There are millions in heaven
who would not have been there but for the everlasting
pains of hell. They were wise; they thought on the eternal
years of punishment. You could have done the same if you
liked, but you would not. Besides, even now sin is in
your heart as it was when you died. You hate the punishment
but not the sin; your heart is ready to break my law again,
and so it will be for ever.
"Unhappy soul! You ask now for mercy; but it is too late.
If you had asked for mercy when you were alive, how glad
I should have been to be merciful to you. But now it is
too late to ask for mercy. You must go back into everlasting
The sinner knows and feels that a wrong thing would be
done if he were set free from eternal punishment. So he
goes back into the flames of hell hopeless and desperate.
Jer.xlvi. There is no cure for thee. Let us look at hell
once more before we leave it. See that man who just asked
for mercy and could not get it. He cannot bear the scorching
fire which burns his body through and through. But he
must bear it. On the earth the hungry man looks for bread,
and last he gets it. A sick man looks for his pain to
get less, and at last it gets less. The man in hell looks
for the burning to stop but it does not stop. Then
he begins to think how long will the horrible burning
go on. His thoughts go through millions and millions of
years that cannot be counted. Will the burning stop then?
His understanding tells him,
no never never never!
See, in his agony of despair, he has thrown himself on
his knees. He prays, he prays with his eyes and hands
lifted up. O how well he prays; no distraction comes to
take his thoughts off his prayer. To whom does he pray?
Does he pray to God? No prayer ever goes up from hell
to God. For there is no tongue that shall confess to thee,
0 God, in hell! Ps. vi. To whom then does he pray? He
prays to Death! "O, Death," he says, "come and put me
out of this horrible pain. O death, when I was alive,
I feared you; I kept away from you. But now, death, I
love you! O death, be kind to me; come and kill me." Does
death come? No; death flies away from him. In those days
men shall seek death and shall not find it. Apoc.ix.
He finds that his prayer is not heard. He stoops down;
he takes up two great handsfull of fire, he throws the
fire down his throat to kill himself. He looks for death
and it cometh not.
See that great strong man. He rushes furiously through
hell. As he goes along, he splashes the fire and sulfur
about him with his feet. Those who are in his road fly
away in terror. He bellows out like a mad bull; he says:
"Bring me the knife bring me the knife." He was
a murderer. He killed somebody with a knife. Now he wants
to get the knife and kill himself with it. Sometimes he
thrusts out his hand as if to catch at the knife; but
he is deceived. The knife is not there;he looks for death
and it cometh not.
XXXVI. The Vision of St. Teresa
St. Teresa writes: "One day when I was praying, it seemed
to me that suddenly, in one moment, I found myself in
hell. I did not know how I came there. Only I understood
that our Lord wanted me to see the place which the devil
had prepared for me. I was in hell for a very short time;
but if I was to live for many years I could never forget
"The entrance into hell seemed to me like a long narrow
passage or a low dark oven. The floor was very filthy,
and the smell which comes from its was abominable. Great
numbers of venomous insects were creeping about it. At
the end of this passage there was a wall with a kind of
hole or cupboard in it. I found myself all at once squeezed
into this place. What I had seen in the narrow passage
was most frightful. Yet it might be called even pleasant
compared with the torments of the place into which I had
been squeezed. These torments were so terrible, that I
cannot give any account of the least part of them. I found
my soul burning in such a horrible fire, that I could
not make anybody understand it. During my illnesses, I
have felt the most dreadful pains, which the doctors tell
us, can be felt in this world. But all these pains are
nothing nothing like the pains I felt in hell.
Then there was the horror I felt when I thought that these
pains would never come to an end, but would last for ever.
I felt as if I was always at every moment strangled and
choked. It seemed as if some one was always tearing my
soul in pieces, or rather as if my soul was always tearing
itself in pieces. I felt myself always burning, and as
if I was being cut, and broken, and crushed in pieces.
In this most frightful place there was not the least hope
of any relief. It was impossible either to sit or lie
down, for there is no room to sit or lie down. The very
walls are most frightful, and seem to close on you and
strangle you. There was not the least light there, but
only the thickest and blackest darkness. Yet somehow or
other, I know not how, you see there whatever is dreadful
and terrible. God did not allow me to see more of hell
at that time. But afterwards he let me see other much
more frightful torments for particular sins. I could not
understand in what manner these things were seen by me.
But I understand that God did me a very great favor in
letting me see those terrible torments from which he had
saved me. All I have read or heard about hell is as different
from the real pains of hell as a picture is different
from the thing painted. To be burnt in the fire of this
world is a mere nothing, a trifle if compared with being
burnt in hell. It is now six years since I saw hell. Yet
even now I cannot write about it without feeling my blood
frozen with horror. When I think about the pains of hell,
all the pains of this world seem to me not worth thinking
about. It seems to me that we have no reason to complain
about the pains of this life. I look upon its as one of
the greatest graces of God to have seen the pains of hell.
It takes away all the fears of the pains of this life.
It makes us suffer them patiently, and thank God in the
hope that he will deliver us from the terrible pains of
hell, which will last for ever! Since I had this vision,
there are no pains which it does not seem to me easy to
bear, remembering what I saw in hell. I often wonder I
could before read of the pains of hell, and not be frightened
by them, or how I could find pleasure in those things
which lead to hell. ' O my God, be thou for ever blessed.
You have shown me that you love me more than I love myself,
by delivering me so often from that frightful prison into
which I was so ready to enter against your will.' The
site of hell has made me feel immense pain when I think
of those heretics and bad Catholics who are lost. My desire
to see them saved from these pains is so immense that
I would willingly give a thousand lives, if I had them,
to save one of these souls."
A Pair Of Scales
If you want to know the weight of some sugar, you get
a pair of scales. You put the sugar into one scale and
a weight into the other. If you want to know the badness
of mortal sin, put it into one scale, and pains of hell
into another scale. You'll see that the balance stands
equal. A mortal sin of one moment deserves the everlasting
pains of hell.
The Past; Or, Break The Egg
You only see the outside of an egg. If you knew that
there was some frightful venomous creature hatching in
the egg, you would break it in pieces directly. Mortal
sin is an egg which the devil puts in your soul, if you
let him. You only see the outside of the devil's egg.
In the inside there is the most horrible and abominable
monster that ever was. He who dies with this diabolic
egg in his soul, will burn in the flames of hell for ever
If you have committed a mortal sin, you know that the
diabolical egg is in your soul. Break that frightful egg
in pieces. Break it before you lay down this book. Break
it before you stir hand or foot; break it this very moment!
If you wait till the next moment you may be in hell the
next moment! How must you break this diabolic egg? Make
an act of contrition for your sin. If God sees that your
act of contrition is sincere, he will forgive you directly.
But then you must go to confession as soon as you can
and confess it.
An Act of Contrition O my God, I am very sorry
that I have sinned against you, because you are so good,
and I will not sin again.
The Future; Or, The Devil's Trap
Temptation, especially bad company, is the devils trap,
by which he brings you into mortal sin. Keep away from
temptation when you know of it before. Fly away if it
comes when you were not expecting it, and say Jesus
and Mary, help me!
Remember! if you die in mortal sin you burn in the flames
of hell for all eternity. You understand this quite well.
So if you have the misfortune to go to hell, you will
have no one to blame but your self.
XXXVII. The Vision in Ven. Bede
"A certain man," says Ven. Bede, "fell sick and died
in the beginning of the night. Next morning, early, he
suddenly came to life again, and sat up. He told the people
what he had seen. ' I was led,' he said,' into a dark
place. When I came into it, the darkness grew so thick
that I could see nothing but the form of him who led me.
I saw a great many balls of black fire rising up out of
a deep pit and falling back again. I saw that there were
souls shut up in these balls of fire. The smell which
came out of the pit was unbearable. He who led me into
this place went away. So I stood there in great fright,
not knowing what to do. All at once I heard behind me
voices crying and lamenting most fearfully. I heard other
voices mocking and laughing. These voices came nearer
and nearer to me, and grew louder and louder. Then I saw
that those who were laughing and rejoicing were devils.
These devils were dragging along with them souls of men
which were howling and lamenting. Amongst them I saw a
man and a woman. The devils dragged these souls down into
the pit, I could not hear their voices so well. After
a while, some of these dark spirits came up again from
the flaming pit. They ran forward and came round me. I
was terribly frightened by their flaming eyes, and the
stinking fire which came out of their mouths and nostrils.
They seemed as if they would lay hold of me with burning
tongs, which they held in their hands. I looked around
me for help. Just then I saw something like a star shining
in the darkness. The light came from him who had brought
me into this place. When he came near, the devils went
away. Then he said: 'That fiery, stinking pit which you
saw is the mouth of hell, and whosoever goes into it shall
never come out again. Go back to your body and live among
men again. Examine your actions well, and speak and behave
so that you may be with the blessed in heaven.' When he
had said this, on a sudden, I found myself alive again