The Latin in the Creed line is infernum, referring to the lower (inferior) regions, which the Jewish people called sheol and the Greeks hades. "Hell" is our equivalent word, even though most people think of it only as the place of the damned and not just of the dead. Remember, before Christ, no human being had yet gone to heaven. Christ descending into hell, or as the British version puts it, "to the dead," means that he visited the just of the Old Law who were awaiting him as the Messiah. That place, which the Fathers of the Church called the "Limbo of the Patriarchs," is referred to in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke as "the bosom of Abraham." The damned went to the most inferior place, hell, strictly speaking. When Christ ascended into heaven, the just of the Old Law went with him.
Have you always wondered about some aspect of the faith? Or maybe you’d like to know some trivia about Pope Francis. If you do, email us your question at email@example.com and look for the answer in an upcoming issue.