"Saint Teresa of Avila’s Terrifying Vision of Hell." Her Account of Her Personal Experience


This article provides the following account of this saint’s experience:

"In her autobiography published posthumously, entitled The Autobiography, Teresa of Avila describes a vision when she was in fervent prayer, and found herself suddenly thrust into the depths of hell. She believed it was shown to her by God to help her turn away from her sins. In it, she describes the sights of suffering lost souls…

Read below Saint Teresa of Avila’s account of her terrifying vision of hell from her autobiography:

“I was one day in prayer when I found myself in a moment, without knowing how, plunged apparently into hell. I understood that it was our Lord’s will I should see the place which the devils kept in readiness for me, and which I had deserved by my sins. It was but a moment, but it seems to me impossible I should ever forget it even if I were to live many years.

The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odors, and covered with loathsome vermin. At the end was a hollow place in the wall, like a closet, and in that I saw myself confined. All this was even pleasant to behold in comparison with what I felt there. There is no exaggeration in what I am saying.

I felt a fire in my soul. I cannot see how it is possible to describe it. My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I felt then, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission, nor any end to them.

Left in that pestilential place, and utterly without the power to hope for comfort, I could neither sit nor lie down: there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness.

Afterwards I had another most fearful vision, in which I saw the punishment of certain sins. They were most horrible to look at. I have read of the diverse tortures, and how the devils tear the flesh with red-hot pincers. But all is as nothing before this; it is a wholly different matter. In short, the one is a reality, the other a picture; and all burning here in this life is as nothing in comparison with the fire that is there. I was so terrified by that vision, and that terror is on me even now while I am writing,–that though it took place nearly six years ago, the natural warmth of my body is chilled by fear even now when I think of it.

It was that vision that filled me with the very great distress which I feel at the sight of so many lost souls–and also gave me the most vehement desires for the salvation of souls; for certainly I believe that, to save even one from those overwhelming torments, I would most willingly endure many deaths.’”

(This is taken from https://www.ucatholic.com/blog/saint-teresa-of-avilas-terrifying-vision-of-hell-on-fire-and-torn-to-pieces/ )


This is a private revelation, we are not bound to believe it.

It comes from a school of thought that Satan and the fallen angels are “in charge” of hell.

We know now that is not the case, hell was designed as the punishment for Satan and the fallen angels. Humans can also choose to to there, but, the demons are not doing the torturing. The punishment is eternal separation from God and is given to the demons as well as to humans.


How do you know? Think I’d take a Saints story compared to yours. Just my opinion


In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”-Matt. 18:32-35


We honestly have no idea what goes on in Hell except that it’s awful and we don’t want to go there.


I think her description of her punishment is exactly like eternal separation from God; hemmed in on every side by thick darkness, unable to sit or lie down, and unable to breathe.


As was mentioned we are not bound to believe private revelations but whether it is Saint Teresa, the Fatima visions of hell or Saint Faustina I tend to believe. Even if these aren’t believed Jesus made it quite clear plenty of times throughout the Gospels that hell is a place of torment and torture.


I personally suspect that any inconvenience or discomfort you can imagine, and a million others you can’t besides, are real punishments – somewhere – in hell.


No one claimed fallen angels to be “in charge”
It would seem logical to me that if hell is the absence of God, then whatever angelic beings there could prey upon whatever weaker beings.

Perhaps liken it to a prison riot.


I know because of the teaching of Holy Mother Church. There are no doctrinal statements that say tha in hell people are tortured by demons, if you have one, please, I am happy to learn more:


[1035] The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.


Absence of a definitive statement is not evidence of anything.

Do you have anything more grounded in logic?


Matthew 25:41. Christ said that Hell was prepared as the eternal punishment for “the Devil and his angels”.

St Paul wrote of the place of punishment for Satan and his angels in 2 Peter

St John taught us about the final destination of Satan and the fallen angels in Revelation 20:10. Same book, chapter 1:18 tells us who holds the keys to hell. Chapter 12 verse 12 tells us that Satan knows he will end up captive in hell.

Pope Francis has called hell “the eternal abyss of solitude” https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20151004_messaggio-quaresima2016.html

Dante’s “Inferno” gave people an idea of hell where the Devil is the boss, the ruler. That idea is simply not part of Scripture or of our Church teaching.


None of this precludes humans being tortured by demons.

It just demonstrates that these demons are being punished.


The problem with taking private revelations literally is that they were given privately. There’s just too much we don’t know. Did God give St Teresa an accurate, literal vision of Hell? Maybe. Did God grant St Teresa a vision that was specific to her, meant to provide her what she individually needed for further spiritual growth? Possible. Did St Teresa just have a vivid nightmare? Also possible.

I’m not saying private revelations should be ignored, but I do think we should avid taking them 100% at face value.

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