Saint John Bosco's Vision of Hell
Don Bosco had a series of dreams in which he was led by a Heavenly guide through areas and experiences to be used as teachings for his boys.
On April 17, 1868, the guide said to him, "Why don't you tell them?" Don Bosco asked, "What should I tell them?"
The guide replied, "What you have seen and heard in your last dreams and what you have wanted to know and shall have revealed to you tomorrow night!"
The following evening, he had a Vision of Hell.
They began by walking a fairly level path.
Don Bosco would have complained had it been steep, because his legs had been bothering him. Actually, it would have been his excuse not to go. As much as he wanted to know these things, his humanity made him hesitate.
They walked along a desolate plain, a sun-parched desert. Finally, however, it opened onto a road where there were green hedges covered with roses and other flowers.
As they were walking, Don Bosco became aware that his boys from the Oratory were following him, as well as others whom he didn't know.
He noticed that as they were walking, some would fall to the ground, and be immediately dragged by an invisible magnetism towards an empty hole which fed into a sloping furnace. Then they would disappear. Disturbed, Don Bosco asked the guide why that was happening. He was told to look closely at the ground. Don Bosco saw what looked like just some filmy fiber. He questioned the guide, again. The guide replied, "A mere nothing; just plain human respect." The guide was telling Don Bosco these boys were being pulled into Hell because of the compromises they made, out of desire for human respect.
Don Bosco said, "Why do so many get caught? Who pulls them down?" The guide instructed him to look closer.
Don Bosco wrote: "I picked up one of the traps and tugged. I immediately felt some resistance. I pulled harder, only to feel that, instead of drawing the thread closer, I was being pulled down myself. I did not resist and soon found myself at the mouth of a frightful cave. I halted, unwilling to venture into that deep cavern, and again started pulling the thread towards me. It gave a little, but only through great effort on my part. I kept tugging, and after a long while a huge, hideous monster emerged, clutching a rope, to which all those traps were tied together. He was the one who instantly dragged down anyone who got caught in them....Then I went back to my guide. `Now you know who he is,' he said to me. I responded, `That's the devil himself.'"
Then Don Bosco examined the traps. Each of them bore an inscription: Pride, Disobedience, Envy, Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, Anger and on and on.
The most dangerous of all were impurity, disobedience and pride. Don Bosco noticed that the boys were almost jumping headfirst into these traps. He couldn't understand it. "Why", he asked the guide, "Why such haste?"
The guide smiled, "Because they are dragged down by the snare of human respect."
In Don Bosco's vision of hell, he saw, as he continued down the steep road, knives along the road, put there to help the boys cut themselves loose from the traps.
These knives represented Meditation, The Blessed Sacrament, frequent Communion, and devotion to Our Lady.
A hammer represented Confession, and other knives included St. Joseph's intercession as well as other Saints.
The hedges began to dry and wither through the rays of the blazing sun. The roses were gone. The road became steeper and steeper.
His vision of hell continued.
Don Bosco complained, he feared he might not be able to get back to the Oratory, the hill was becoming so steep. The guide said, "Now that we have come so far, do you want me to leave you here?" Apprehensive, Don Bosco replied, "How can I survive without your help?" The response was "Then follow me."