Mother Christofora (+2019) of the Monastery of Saint Kendeas (Cyprus), tells us how Christ truly descended into Hades and trampled down death by death. She recounts the dialogue between Christ, the devil and the prophets from the Old Testament.
Video source: Το Περιβόλι του Αγίου Λαζάρου
What happened after Christ said “It is finished!”
“Mother, could you please tell us what happened immediately after Christ said “It is finished!”
“Yes! As soon as he said: “It is finished”, a big earthquake occurred. 120 tombs were opened, and 120 dead people were resurrected. The sun hid his rays and there was darkness without a moon, without stars, a deep darkness from the 3 rd until the 9 th hour… from the 6 th until the 9 th hour… 3 hours.
120 dead people were resurrected from their tombs, they received the perfect resurrection and appeared to their families and were talking with them for 40 days, 40 days and nights.
Among these dead people was St. Simeon the God-receiver who circumcised Christ. The people of God, the family of St. Simeon the God-receiver wrote down his testimony which described the way Christ visited Hades while Simeon, himself, was also in Hades. He said: “We heard three knocks. It was the Lord. And He was knocking as a most noble Lord and wanted them to open Hades for Him. Although, He could open Hades Himself as a sovereign, most noble as He is, He was asking them to open.”
And said “Lift up the gates, O you rulers, And be lifted up, you everlasting doors, And the King of glory shall enter”
Up until that point, the doors which were locked eternally should be opened because the King of glory visited hell and the doors should be opened before Him. Behind the doors of Hell was the Devil. All the other demons had deserted him and left him alone.
The Devil would not leave. And he answered:
“Who is this King of Glory?”
“Who are you that you call yourself “King of Glory”? I don’t know you. I am not opening.”
Christ repeated His words one more time and the Devil repeated also the same: “Who is this King of Glory?”
The third time, after the Devil wanted to know who this King of Glory is, Christ answered like this:
“The Lord of powers, He is the King of Glory” and immediately the Devil was lost, the doors fell off on their own and entered inside the Sovereign, the Creator of the world, the Light of the world, the Joy of those who were expecting him in Hell.
Because the prophets were prophesizing that the Messiah is close. But when St. John the Forerunner met them [said]: “Rejoice, the Messiah has come! I was the one who baptized Him!”
Then, St. Simeon went and told them “I was the one to circumscribe Him” St. John the Forerunner went and told them “I was the one who baptized Him”.
And they were expecting a little more time for Him to appear and save them from the darkness of hell. As soon as the voice of God was heard, His light shined more than [the light of] sun, Hades was filled with light, joy, hope and the Christ shouted:
“Where are the first men [“protoplastoi”], everybody rushed to Him. The first men, the prophets,
St. John the Forerunner, St. Simeon. And the Ascension started. He said: “All those who believe in Me, come near me to take you to heaven.”
Some were left [behind] who did not believe as they were satanists, unworthy of repentance. God did not illuminate them. Some were left in hell, satanists, enemies of God… but most of them—5000 years that they were gathered in hell—most of them believed in Christ and He commanded “the billions of angelic ranks” to cleanse the souls with the blood He shed on the cross. One drop of blood was enough to cleanse the souls who were for 5000 years in Hades.
The souls were going to heaven and they were overjoyed that they were freed of darkness and hell and were now going to heaven. Those were told by St. Simeon to his family with whom he was in contact for 40 days. And not just Simeon, the same with the rest 119 souls who were saying the same and they were joyful in narrating the triumph of the Resurrection of Christ.
We have concrete evidence of Saints who witnessed and said… This is why the Apostles said “We lived with the Son of God. We saw Him, we heard Him, we ate with Him, we cannot deny what we saw and heard. He is the Son of God. Saint John the Theologian says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
“Those who have believed in Christ are superior to the world. You have beaten the world.
Do not be afraid! All those who have believed in Christ are children of God and the children of God have nothing to fear…”
As the Lord said: “Yes, they will persecute you because of Me, but not a hair of your head shall be lost.”
I will save you, I will take you with me in heaven and you will rejoice for the centuries of centuries. We do not accept distortion of our faith! We are Orthodox Christians and we will remain Orthodox until our death. We believe that heaven was opened after the Crucifixion of Christ and He accepts all the souls that are in the world and depart but do not go to hell because they believe in Christ, do obedience to the Gospel and they will not die the second death, meaning the spiritual death, meaning go to hell. For this Christ says: “And whoever lives and believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”