Descended into Hell and Rose on the Third Day
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified
Descent and Ascent (631-632)
Christ "descended" and also "ascended far above all the heavens" (Eph 4:9-10). The Creed teaches both his descent into hell and his Resurrection: "Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead" (Easter Vigil Exsultet).
The apostles taught that Jesus, like all men, joined everyone else in the realm of death. However, he descended there as Savior "to preach to the spirits in prison" (1 Pet 3:19).
Declaring the Just (633-634)
This abode of the dead is called "hell" because the souls are deprived of the vision of God. Jesus delivered only the "holy souls." He did not descend into hell to deliver the damned or to destroy the hell of damnation. Rather, he freed the just who had gone before him (Council of Rome).
When Jesus "preached even to the dead" (1 Pet 4:6) he completely fulfilled his mission. This act shows that Christ's redemptive act has spread to all men of all times.
Preaching to the Dead (635)
Jesus said that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live" (Jn 5:25). By dying, Jesus destroyed the devil (who has the power of death) and delivered those who "through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage" (Heb 2:14-15). "Today a great silence reigns on earth. The King has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve captive with him" (Ancient Holy Saturday Homily).
The Crowning Truth - He is Risen (638)
God fulfilled his promises "by raising Jesus" (Acts 13:32-33). The Resurrection is the crowning truth of faith, believed by the first Christian community, handed on by Tradition and established by the New Testament documents. "Christ is risen from the dead. To the dead, he has given life" (Byzantine liturgy).