|Andrea di Bonaiuto (1346-1379), Descent of Christ to Limbo|
In the Apostles Creed, which we recite daily, we speak of Jesus descending into hell. This is not the hell of the damned, but simply the abode of the dead, before the gates of heaven were opened. I don't speak Greek, but that's how it was explained to me. And here's a beautiful poem about it:
“Limbo” By Sister Mary Ada, OSJ
The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before the wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas,
The one old man who had not stirred
And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song.
A silent man alone
Of all that throng found tongue –
Not any other
Close to His heart.
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said, “How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”