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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding
THE MEANING OF LIMBO

Q. 1. Can you explain to me the meaning of Limbo? I cannot find anything in the Catholic Bible about this word.

A. 1. First of all, the word "Limbo" is not found in the Holy Bible. It is a word that was coined to represent two different spiritual worlds. The following quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia explains those two worlds.

Limbo "is applied to (a) the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the "limbus patrum"); or (b) to the permanent place or state of those unbaptized children and others who, dying without grievous personal sin, are excluded from the beatific vision on account of original sin alone (the "limbus infantium" or "puerorum"). [Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York, USU: Robert Appleton Company, 1910.]

In other words, Limbo is used to refer to the world in which dwelled the saints who were saved prior to the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, at which time Our Lord opened the Heavenly Kingdom to welcome them in it.

Secondly, Limbo is used to refer to the spiritual world where dwells the souls of unbaptized babies and children who have died. These children did not reach the age of reason (age 8), being incapable of committing sins, but were marked by the Original Sin that could only have been removed through the Sacrament of Baptism.

On the matter of the unbaptized children, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

C.C.C. # 1261 "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.



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