After showing the three children the vision of Hell, Our Lady of Fatima said, "You see the place where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish devotion in the world to My Immaculate Heart." In the following account of St. John Bosco and his descent into Hell we see how the devil uses every trick and snare possible to bring souls to Hell. St. John also gives us to know the remedies God gives to souls to save them from Hell. One of the greatest of all remedies was given to us at Fatima, namely, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Experience Of Saint John Bosco
To Hell And Back
Continued from Issue 22
At the beginning of Holy Week in 1868, haunting dreams began to trouble Don Bosco, and they "went on for several miserable nights."
"These dreams so exhausted me," he stated, "that in the morning I felt more done in than if I had been working all night. They also alarmed and upset me very much."
The most frightful, but also the most salutary of these dreams occurred on Friday, April 10th. It is the account of this dream which we have reprinted below. The reader will notice that in this dream Don Bosco is accompanied by a man who acted as the Saint's guide. According to Don Bosco, it may have been an angel, a deceased pupil, St. Francis de Sales, or some other saint.
Because of the extraordinary length of the original account, we have condensed it slightly. Apart from this, we are delighted to present it to you exactly as Don Bosco narrated it to his students on Sunday night, May 3, 1868.
We continued our descent, the road now becoming so frightfully steep that it was almost impossible to stand erect. And then, at the bottom of this precipice, at the entrance of a dark valley, an enormous building loomed into sight, its towering portal tightly locked, facing our road. When I finally got to the bottom, I became smothered by a suffocating heat, while a greasy, green-tinted smoke lit by flashes of scarlet flames rose from behind those enormous walls which loomed higher than mountains."
"Where are we? What is this?'' I asked my guide.
"Read the inscription on that portal and you will know."
I looked up and read these words: The place of no reprieve. I realized that we were at the gates of hell. The guide led me all around this horrible place. At regular distances, bronze portals like the first overlooked precipitous descents; on each was an inscription, such as: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels – Matt. 25:41.
Suddenly the guide turned to me. Upset and startled. he motioned to me to step aside. “Look!” he said. I looked up in terror and saw in the distance someone racing down the path at an uncontrollable speed. I kept my eyes on him, trying to identify him and as he got closer, I recognized him as one of my boys. His disheveled hair was partly standing upright on his head and partly tossed back by the wind. His arms were outstretched, as though he were thrashing the water in an attempt to stay afloat. He wanted to stop, but could not. Tripping on the protruding stones, he kept falling even faster. "Let's help him, let's stop him," I shouted, holding out my hands in a vain effort to restrain him.
"Leave him alone," the guide replied.
"Don't you know how terrible God's vengeance is? Do you think you can restrain one who is fleeing from His just wrath?"
Meanwhile the youth had turned his fiery gaze backward in an attempt to see if God's wrath were still pursuing him. The next moment he fell tumbling to the bottom of the ravine and crashed against the bronze portal as though he could find no better refuge in his flight.
"Why was he looking backward in terror?”
"Because God's wrath will pierce hell's gates to reach and torment him even in the midst of fire!”
As the boy crashed into the portal, it sprang open with a roar, and instantly a thousand inner portals opened with a deafening clamor as if struck by a body that had been propelled by an invisible most violent, irresistible gale. As these bronze doors — one behind the other, though at a considerable distance from each other — remained momentarily open I saw far into the distance something like furnace jaws spouting fiery balls the moment the youth hurtled into it. As swiftly as they had opened, the portals then clanged shut again. I tried to jot down the name of that unfortunate lad, but the guide restrained me. "Wait," he ordered. "Watch!”
Three other boys of ours, screaming in terror and with arms outstretched were rolling down one behind the other like massive rocks. I recognized them as they too crashed against the portal. In that split second, it sprang open and so did the other thousand. The three lads were sucked into that endless corridor amid a long-drawn, fading, infernal echo, and then the portals clanged shut again. At intervals, many other lads came tumbling down after them. I saw one unlucky boy being pushed down the slope by an evil companion. Others fell singly or with others, arm in arm or side by side. Each of them bore the name of his sin on his forehead. I kept calling to them as they hurtled down, but they did not hear me. Again the portals would open thunderously and slam shut with a rumble. Then, dead silence!
"Bad companions, bad books, and bad habits," my guide exclaimed, "are mainly responsible for so many eternally lost."
The traps I had seen earlier were indeed dragging the boys to ruin. Seeing so many going to perdition, I cried out disconsolately, "If so many of our boys end up this way, we are working in vain. How can we prevent such tragedies?"
"This is their present state," my guide replied, "and that is where they would go if they were to die now.''
Just then a new group of boys came hurtling down and the portals momentarily opened. "Let's go in," the guide said to me.
I pulled back in horror.
"Come," my guide insisted. "You'll learn much."
We entered that narrow, horrible corridor and whizzed through it with lightning speed. Threatening inscriptions shone eerily over all the inner gateways. The last one opened into a vast, grim courtyard with a large, unbelievably forbidding entrance at the far end.
"From here on," he said, "no one may have a helpful companion, a comforting friend. a loving heart, a compassionate glance, or a benevolent word. All that is gone forever Do you just want to see or would you rather experience these things yourself?”
"I only want to see!" I answered.
"Then come with me,” my friend added, and taking me in tow, he stepped through that gate into a corridor at whose far end stood an observation platform, closed by a huge, single crystal pane reaching from the pavement to the ceiling. As soon as I crossed its threshold, I felt an indescribable terror and dared not take another step. Ahead of me I could see something like an immense cave which gradually disappeared into recesses sunk far into the bowels of the mountains. They were all ablaze, but theirs was not an earthly fire with leaping tongues of flames. The entire cave — walls, ceiling, floor, iron, stones, wood, and coal — everything was a glowing white at temperatures of thousands of degrees. Yet the fire did not incinerate, did not consume. I simply can't find words to describe the cavern's horror.
Continued in next Issue