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In Christian Mythology, Today Is the Day Jesus Goes to Hell

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The history of Christianity is a minefield of the most insane shit imaginable. From saints with dog heads to mythical whores riding seven-headed dragons to musical intervals that unleash the Devil, the annals of Catholic mythology are awash with totally bonkers anecdotes over which millions of innocents were put to the spear. And one such story is the Harrowing of Hell, the part of the Passion where Jesus goes to Hell after he dies.

Jesus leading Adam by the hand, from the ‘Vaux Passional’

According to some snappy Wikipedia research, the Harrowing of Hell was introduced in earnest in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. Previous gospels had described Christ descending to the land of the dead, or bringing tidings to those in the underworld. But the myth soon evolved and grew, incorporating the idea that Christ went to Hell because he was a human and bore the burden of original sin like the rest of us. Real fun doctrine to live by!

Obviously, part of that was making Jesus out to be a G. Plenty of depictions show Jesus with his cape and scepter, freeing the dead and aiding those he felt died unfairly. Other versions have him straight-up conquering the Devil and freeing all the souls from Hell to be forgiven by his father. Then again, plenty of modern Christians still believe you’re going to burn in Hell, so it’s not like that version of the story managed to humanize the spiritual process for everyone.

As with all of ancient Christian mythology, the Harrowing of Hell is good for one thing: fucked-up art! Depictions of the Harrowing of Hell range from Christ guiding some folks out of a cave to Jesus as a withered victim of crucifixion being tormented by demons. Each of them is super fucking weird in its own right, though, so make sure you go deep into it.

We especially like Christ in Hieronymous Bosch’s painting, which is in our header, and which can be found below. You can hear Jesus being like, Wakey wakey, motherfuckers! This is indicative of a recurring theme in Harrowing of Hell art, as you can see in the painting by Fra Angelico above: Jesus literally crushing a demon with the door of the underworld. Several depictions actually include Chris kicking in the door like a hair metal band in a music video when the song pops off.

From all of us at MetalSucks, a happy Harrowing of Hell to our Christian friends! It’s good to know that between his gore-soaked murder and his glitzy resurrection, God’s only son burned in the fires of the pit like the rest of us.

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