According to Catholicism can Satan and his satellites, roam the earth for the destruction of souls, while still being in hell?

Do demons on earth 🌎 take their own form of hell with them or does God give them leave from hell to torment and persecute souls before they die?

  • 1
    Hell as a physical place or a spiritual realm? (guessing spiritual since this is a Catholicism question and you are Ken Graham)
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 2, 2019 at 16:55
  • 1
    Do you just assume satan was in hell or you have a reference that it is an official Church teachings? Oct 2, 2019 at 17:31
  • @ianjoseph198 I assume nothing, my friend. If you want, please answer the question. You can reference either side of the issue. It is one thing to quote Scripture, it is quite different to give it a Catholic perspective and interpretation.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 2, 2019 at 18:14
  • @NigelJ is there any basis to believe that Satan or his demonic horde have been or ever will be in hades?
    – Kris
    Oct 3, 2019 at 13:22
  • @Kris We can see a slight problem with the translation of the Latin word infernum. The English translation could be any of the following: the lower regions, Hades, Hell, underground and so on.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 3, 2019 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


From the Blog of Archdiocese of Washington:

Thus, though consigned to Hell, it would seem that some or all of the demons have the ability to roam the earth as well. Demons, however, do not have bodies and thus do not “roam the earth” the way we do. Their “roaming” is more an indication of their capacity to influence than their ability to move from one place to another. Further, Satan and demons are described as being “chained,” “in prison,” or “in darkness.” This is likely a way of indicating that their power to influence or “roam” is limited in some way. This does not say that they do not wield considerable power, just that it is not unbounded. If you think it is bad now, just imagine what it will be like when their power is unchained! You can read more about it here

  • 1
    Good answer Grasper.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 3, 2019 at 15:13
  • Dont you think, the better understanding is, some demons were allowed by God to roam the earth, while a greater portion was already tormented in the lake of fire as was shown to Sis. Lucia by Our Lady of Fatima? Demons or even satan cannot be confined in hell tormented by fire and at the same time freely operates on earth. Oct 3, 2019 at 21:32
  • @ianjoseph198 The Church has not defined what the torments truly are. The revelations of Sr. Lucia still remain part of private revelation. Besides, St. Thomas says that the demons not in hell carry their torments with them. The demons, remember are spiritual beings and do not pertain to our understanding of a physical world. A lake of fire can not be of any effect on them. The lake fire 🔥 may be for those human souls unfortunately ending up in hell.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 3, 2019 at 22:01
  • @Ken Sis. Lucia distinguised human form from the demons in that vision. Your question stands on the premise that satan and his demons although confined in hell are still able to roam the earth which Catholicism have no supporting teachings. While its accepted that Satan and demons state of being is like hell while roaming the earth, but the torments in the lake of fire will aggravate it further once they are thrown in that place as it is a form of punishment as described in Book of Revelation. Oct 3, 2019 at 22:56
  • @ianjoseph198 You are quite free to answer the question if you desire. I do not desire to run a debate with you, my friend. Let us agree to disagree on many points. Christianity SE is not a form to run opinions.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 3, 2019 at 23:08

The devil and his demons are are angels (immaterial/incorporeal intelligent beings). Angels do not occupy a place in the same sense bodily beings do. Angels are said to be in a place by the action they can produce on material things:

St. Thomas Aquinas, addressing "Whether an angel is in a place?" (Summa Theologica I q. 52 a. 1) co., writes:

It is befitting an angel to be in a place; yet an angel and a body are said to be in a place in quite a different sense. A body is said to be in a place in such a way that it is applied to such place according to the contact of dimensive quantity; but there is no such quantity in the angels, for theirs is a virtual one. Consequently an angel is said to be in a corporeal place by application of the angelic power in any manner whatever to any place.

Accordingly there is no need for saying that an angel can be deemed commensurate with a place, or that he occupies a space in the continuous; for this is proper to a located body which is endowed with dimensive quantity. In similar fashion it is not necessary on this account for the angel to be contained by a place; because an incorporeal substance virtually contains the thing with which it comes into contact, and is not contained by it: for the soul is in the body as containing it, not as contained by it. In the same way an angel is said to be in a place which is corporeal, not as the thing contained, but as somehow containing it.


The According to Catholicism, it it possible for Satan and/or his satellites to roam the earth, while still being in hell?

The short answer is yes.

When not in hell proper, they take hell with them.

The demon when not in hell take their interior torments of hell with them. So too the angels that come to our side to protect us are always in the state of being in the presence of the beatific vision and the joys of heaven.

The demons not in hell, still take their Hell with them. The subject of hell is one not clearly understood. Hell could be a state or an actual physical location. We simply do not know everything. Fr. Gabriele Amorth, one of the most famous exorcists in the Catholic Church, in his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, tells us that at the point of liberation of the possessed he condemns the possessor to the Foot of the Cross of Jesus. (A far greater torment than Hell itself in the Devil’s eyes.) He make note that most exorcists condemn then to hell from whence they came.

In the biography of the now canonized St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, Vie de Soeur Marie de Jesus Cruucifie (1846-1878), Religious Carmmelete Converse (1913), by Fr. Estate, he writes the following as what was revealed by the Demon during a diabolic possession of this saint that lasted 100 days! The following is my translation from the French (page 122):

The Devil will come one last time; he spoke of the arrival of Lucifer himself: “Our Leader, he said, hardly ever leaves hell. In passing over the the body of this Arab, he will so much burn it, that you you will not be able to touch it with your finger until the Master (meaning God or Jesus) heals the body in his own time.

St. Thomas has this to say on the subject:

The angels in their own nature stand midway between God and men. Now the order of Divine providence so disposes, that it procures the welfare of the inferior orders through the superior. But man's welfare is disposed by Divine providence in two ways: first of all, directly, when a man is brought unto good and withheld from evil; and this is fittingly done through the good angels. In another way, indirectly, as when anyone assailed is exercised by fighting against opposition. It was fitting for this procuring of man's welfare to be brought about through the wicked spirits, lest they should cease to be of service in the natural order. Consequently a twofold place of punishment is due to the demons: one, by reason of their sin, and this is hell; and another, in order that they may tempt men, and thus the darksome atmosphere is their due place of punishment.

Now the procuring of men's salvation is prolonged even to the judgment day: consequently, the ministry of the angels and wrestling with demons endure until then. Hence until then the good angels are sent to us here; and the demons are in this dark atmosphere for our trial: although some of them are even now in hell, to torment those whom they have led astray; just as some of the good angels are with the holy souls in heaven. But after the judgment day all the wicked, both men and angels, will be in hell, and the good in heaven. - Whether our atmosphere is the demons' place of punishment? (Summa Theologica I q. 64 a. 4)

We see that Satan is in hell in the Visions of Hell of St. Francis of Rome. I will add a caveat here. Visions, even of saints are not always to be considered accurate and the the Church has not pronounced a definitive doctrine on Hell or the state of the unholy angels as of yet.

She said that the devils are divided up into a one to two ratio. She says that one third of the devils are in hell, and those are the ones who actively fought against Michael and angels in the war to dethrone God. According to her, the remaining two thirds of the devils are here on earth and in the air, and these are the ones who sat on the sidelines during the war, and who refused to take sides (i.e., lukewarm). The ones in hell can only come to earth with the express permission of God, when He wants to punish men the most severely for their sins. The devils already on earth can cause havoc with the weather, and they have the job of testing men and women’s faith by seeing if they can get them to sin against God. They are the members of the lowest rank of devils, and they are daily counteracted in their nefarious actions by our guardian angels. These earthly demons will eventually wind up in hell, but since they didn’t rebel outright, but in a passive manner, they do not suffer the pains of hell just yet.

She says that Lucifer is in the lowest place in hell, and he was formerly the highest of the Seraphim angels. He is in charge of the sin of pride. Below him in the hellish hierarchy is Asmodeus, the former head of the Cherubim. His great sin is lust, and his job is to destroy marriages. Then comes Mammon, the former head of the Thrones. His great sin is greed. Then comes Beelzebul, the former head of the Dominations. His great sins are idolatry and the occult.

This reminds me of Pope Paul III’s amusing statements to Biagio da Cesena (Spoiler beware alert):“It was widely said that when Cesena complained to Pope Paul III, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait [of Biagio da Cesena in hell] would have to remain.”

Biagio da Cesena, Papal Master of Ceremonies of Pope Paul III portrayed in hell by Michelangelo. The Last Judgement can be seen by all who visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

An interesting thought of where Satan is comes from Dante:

In Dante's Inferno, Satan is portrayed as a giant demon, frozen mid-breast in ice at the center of Hell. Satan has three faces and a pair of bat-like wings affixed under each chin. As Satan beats his wings, he creates a cold wind that continues to freeze the ice surrounding him and the other sinners in the Ninth Circle. The winds he creates are felt throughout the other circles of Hell. In his three mouths, he chews on Judas Iscariot, Marcus Junius Brutus, and Gaius Cassius Longinus. Scholars consider Satan to be "a once splendid being (the most perfect of God's creatures) from whom all personality has now drained away". Satan, also known as Lucifer, was formerly the Angel of Light and once tried to usurp the power of God. As punishment, God banished Satan out of Heaven to an eternity in Hell as the ultimate sinner. Dante illustrates a less powerful Satan than most standard depictions; he is slobbering, wordless, and receives the same punishments in Hell as the rest of the sinners. In the text, Dante vividly illustrates Satan's grotesque physical attributes. - Dante's Satan

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.

Satan is trapped in the frozen central zone in the Ninth Circle of Hell, Inferno, Canto 34.

  • The short answer is Yes,? How come? the answer had not cited any "definitive teachings" coming from the Catholic Church. Oct 11, 2019 at 0:49
  • @ianjoseph198 I have at least quoted St. Thomas and his Summa! As I commented above, you are free to submit an answer. If you believe you can do better, please do so.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 11, 2019 at 1:08
  • You qouted St.Thomas, yes. But the Summa does not even stated nor implied Satan was in hell. Oct 11, 2019 at 4:03
  • @ianjoseph198 ”The ones in hell can only come to earth with the express permission of God, when He wants to punish men the most severely for their sins.“ Satan may well be in that number! Please post your own answer and end your comments please.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 12, 2019 at 12:12
  • I thought your position is that the fallen angels goes back and forth freely? Oct 16, 2019 at 4:03

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