The Deceiving Road to Hell

Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, Patrick shared a passage from one of St. John Bosco’s documented dreams called The Road to Hell. In it, St. John describes in detail the journey from a state of grace and purity ultimately to a state of damnation and entrance into hell.

In his dream, St. John describes being awoken by a mysterious figure who led him to a great desert, devoid of life of any kind. As they walked, they came to a beautiful road. The road was guarded with beautiful hedges, roses, and other flowers. St. John notices that the road is ever so slightly sloping downhill. As time passes, the slope gradually became steeper and steeper of a slope.

St. John also began to notice other people around him on the road. One by one, they fell, each one hurdling towards the distant precipice of the sloping hill. And over the edge and into a furnace they would drop. Upon further inspection, St. John noticed traps and tripwires everywhere. Everyone he noticed walked into a trap and was sent flying into the furnace. He tugged on the traps, eventually loosening one and exposing that all of the traps were connected to one great monster, the devil himself.

“Carefully examining many of the traps, I saw that each bore an inscription: Pride, Disobedience, Envy, Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, Anger and so on. Stepping back a bit to see which ones trapped the greater number of boys, I discovered that the most dangerous were those of impurity, disobedience, and pride.” (St. John Bosco, The Road to Hell)

As St. John and his guide walked on, the roses became scarcer. Thorns began to crop up. As the incline became more severe, St. John became more apprehensive about continuing this journey. But after some convincing, he and his guide both made it to the bottom of the road. And there, looming before them, was a great building clouded in smoke and scarlet flames that licked the sky from behind the walls.

Inscriptions on the gates read “The place of no reprieve”, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25: 41), and “Every tree that yielded not good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.” (Matthew 7: 19)

As St. stood there, he witnessed boys, one after another, rushing headlong into the fiery portals of eternal torment. The guide warned St. John that he is not able to stop somebody from fleeing from the just punishment of God which can pierce even the gates of hell. This is merely their outcome should they die right now. They still have time to repent from their sinful ways.

“‘Then is there no way to save these unfortunate lads? Please, tell me what I can do for them.’

‘They have superiors; let them obey them. They have rules; let them observe them. They have the sacraments; let them receive them.’”

Patrick compared this terrifying vision of hell with the path on which much of today’s youth walks. Tragically, they have been born in an era where many are unconcerned with their eternal salvation. Too early, they’ve been overexposed to the world and what it has to offer, before being taught how to navigate good and evil, virtues and vices, joy and misery.

Patrick pointed to the idea that in St. John’s dream, sins of impurity and obedience are what the youth struggle most with. Sure enough, that’s still true today. Smartphones, TikTok, social media, and porn are more rampant than ever and it’s clear as day that these entities do not have our children’s well-being in mind. The road to hell is slippery and it is the duty of well-informed Catholics to help young people find the truth and pursue it until the day they die.

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am – 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.