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The Road to Hell - V

Touching the Outer Wall of Hell

St. John Bosco
This fifth and last installment completes the dream of St. John Bosco on Hell. Click to read part I, part II, part III andpart IV. TIA
My guide lifted another veil that hid many of our Oratory boys, all of whom I recognized instantly.

Under the veil the inscription read: Radix omnium malorum [The root of all evils].

He asked me: “Do you know what that means? What is the sin designated by this phrase?”

Disobedience Adam and Eve

Disobedience is the root of all evils

“Would it be pride?”

“No!” He answered.

“And yet I have always heard that pride is the root of all evil.”

“Yes, generally speaking one says that it is pride; but do you know what specifically led Adam and Eve to commit the first sin for which they were driven away from their earthly paradise?”


“Correct. Disobedience is the root of all evil.”

“What shall I tell my boys about it?”

“Listen carefully. The boys you see here who prepare such a dismal end for themselves are those who are disobedient. Those who you think went to bed to rest, but in fact left the dormitory later in the night to wander about the courtyard, heedless that they are doing something forbidden by the rule. They stray into dangerous areas and climb up scaffolds, even endangering their lives.

“Others go to church, but, ignoring regulations, they misbehave. Instead of praying, they are thinking about things quite different from the prayer; or they daydream and disturb their colleagues. There are some who leave the church looking for another room where they can sleep during the sacred services. Yet others that you think have gone to church do not appear in it. Woe to those who neglect prayer! He who does not pray dooms himself to perdition!

“Here [in Hell] there are also some who, instead of singing hymns and the praises of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, they read secular books. Others - o shameful thing! - spend their time reading forbidden books.”

He then went on mentioning other serious faults against the rule, which were the origin of grave disorders.

When he finished, I was deeply moved.

an image of a demon biting into a woman's head

The tormnents of Hell last forever

“May I mention all these things to my boys?” I asked, looking at him straight in his eyes.

“Yes, you may tell them whatever you remember.”

“What advice shall I give them to safeguard them from such a misfortune?”

“You must insist that obedience to God, the Church, their parents and superiors, even in small things, will save them.”

“Anything else?”

“Tell them to avoid idleness, which was the origin of the sin of holy King David. Tell them to keep themselves busy at all times so that the Devil will not have time to tempt them.”

I bowed my head and promised. I was so moved that I told my friend:

“I thank you for the charity you employed with me, and I beg you to help me get out of here.”

Then, he said: “Come with me.”

Encouragingly, he took my hand and bolstered me so I could continue because I was worn out. We left that room and in a short time we had retraced our steps through that horrible courtyard and the long corridor. But before crossing the last bronze portal, he turned to me and said:

“Now that you have seen the torments of others, you must experience yourself what is the suffering of Hell.”


Even the outer wall of Hell is unbearably hot

“No, no!” I cried in horror.

He insisted, but I kept refusing.

“Do not be afraid,” he told me; “it is just a taste. Touch this wall.”

I could not muster enough courage and tried to get away, but he held me back insisting:

“No matter what, it is necessary that you experience this.”

Gripping my arm firmly, he pulled me to the wall, saying:

“Touch it at least once, so that you may prove that you have visited the walls of eternal torments and you may comprehend how terrible the last wall must be if the first outer one is so unendurable. Can you see this wall?”

I looked at it carefully. It seemed incredibly thick. My guide continued:

“There are one thousand walls between this and the real fire of Hell. One thousand walls surround it. Each wall is very thick and is one thousand miles from the next one. This wall, therefore, is one million miles from Hell's real fire. It is just a remote beginning of Hell itself.”

When he said this, I instinctively pulled back, but he seized my hand, forced it open, and pressed it against a stone on that first of the thousand walls. The burning was so intense and excruciating that I leaped back with a scream and I woke up.

I found myself sitting on my bed, my hand was stinging and I kept rubbing it to ease the pain. As daylight came, I noticed that it was actually swollen. That dream and the impression of that fire had affected me so much that the skin of my palm had peeled off.

Bear in mind that I have not told you things in their most horrible cruelty in order not to cause you too much terror. We know that Our Lord always portrayed Hell in symbols because, had He described it as it really is, we could not understand. No mortal can comprehend these things. Our Lord knows them and He reveals them to those He chooses.


Blason de Charlemagne
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From Memorias Biograficas de San Juan Bosco,
Vol. 9, pp. 166-181,
Posted August 4, 2012