Is it Catholicism? Or conservatives that believe this? It might be from Dante’s Inferno or something. Not specifically mentioned in the Bible. There is the story of Lazarus and the rich man in hell but it doesn’t talk about a window.

IIRC the idea goes when you get to heaven you can eat steak at a restaurant next to a window where you can see and enjoy with satisfaction watching your enemies burn in hell. I didn’t make up this idea. Just trying to find where it came from.

I found a comment on it:

"One of St Thomas Aquinas' key features of heaven was that it had a window so you could enjoy the suffering in hell"

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    Welcome to C.SE. Can you provide a reference where this idea is expressed? This is the first time I heard about it, and I'm quite sure it is not official Catholic teaching! Dec 10, 2021 at 21:44
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    You may be thinking of the saying regarding heaping coals of fire on the head of others - Proverbs 25:22 and Romans 12:20. Or it may be the text in Revelation 14:11 regarding the 'smoke of their torment' rising up for ever and ever.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 10, 2021 at 22:14
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    I don’t think that russ is a concept in the Bible. I think it’s part of some religion sects. Dec 10, 2021 at 22:18
  • I don’t think that “the window to view hell” is from the Bible specifically but it may be an idea in some religions. There is the story of Lazarus in hell talking to someone in heaven. But I think it came from somewhere else like Dante’s Inferno. Dec 10, 2021 at 22:21
  • Also, it doesn’t look like I can’t edit, or delete or directly reply to other comments? Is my profile limited on this site or is it the way the site is? Dec 10, 2021 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


I don't personally believe God is going to torment people forever and I don't think the Bible teaches that either (https://rethinkinghell.com/). But before accusing Aquinas of being some sort of sadist, I recommend reading the entire argument found at the following link. I also do not think he is suggesting that there is a window into "hell", but rather that by knowing the punishment of the wicked, who are no longer capable of repentance, the righteous will be able to better praise God for His mercy in their lives. I don't agree with him, but I really think you need to read the entire argument, which I have only posted here in part.


Article 1. Whether the blessed in heaven will see the sufferings of the damned?

Now everything is known the more for being compared with its contrary, because when contraries are placed beside one another they become more conspicuous. Wherefore in order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.

Article 2. Whether the blessed pity the unhappiness of the damned?

I answer that, Mercy or compassion may be in a person in two ways: first by way of passion, secondly by way of choice. In the blessed there will be no passion in the lower powers except as a result of the reason's choice. Hence compassion or mercy will not be in them, except by the choice of reason. Now mercy or compassion comes of the reason's choice when a person wishes another's evil to be dispelled: wherefore in those things which, in accordance with reason, we do not wish to be dispelled, we have no such compassion. But so long as sinners are in this world they are in such a state that without prejudice to the Divine justice they can be taken away from a state of unhappiness and sin to a state of happiness. Consequently it is possible to have compassion on them both by the choice of the will—in which sense God, the angels and the blessed are said to pity them by desiring their salvation—and by passion, in which way they are pitied by the good men who are in the state of wayfarers. But in the future state it will be impossible for them to be taken away from their unhappiness: and consequently it will not be possible to pity their sufferings according to right reason. Therefore the blessed in glory will have no pity on the damned.

Article 3. Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?

I answer that, A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly.


A process of elimination may be needed to whittle down the options. First - does the Bible speak of any window in heaven through which the torment of those in hell may be viewed?

  1. Revelation 14:10-11 is a prophetic vision of future events where certain ones suffer hell. But note who are eye-witnesses:

"...he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." (A.V.)

No humans see this. It is an event in the realms of spirit, and only holy angels and the Lamb (the glorified, resurrected Jesus Christ) witness the torment of those evil ones. Then we learn that it is the smoke of their torment that arises continuously in the presence of those angels, and the Lamb. It is not the ones in hell who are thereafter seen, but the smoke that arises. This, therefore, is not a window into hell; it's more like an outlet for the smoke arising out of hell.

  1. Luke 16:19-31 has Jesus describing what happens to two men who die. A rich man dies, his body is buried, then Jesus says of him:

"And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." (vs. 23)

It's the other way around. From hell, this man can see the bliss enjoyed by the dead but now rejoicing Lazarus, in a place of comfort and joy with Abraham. A great chasm lies between hell and what is called "the bosom of Abraham" (vs. 26). There is no hint that Lazarus can look into hell from where he is.

This means that we can eliminate the Bible as the source of this idea.

What about Dante's Inferno as the source? Roman Catholic Dante Alighieri produced his epic philosophical poem (around 1308-1321) graphically depicting a guided tour of hell, but as far as I know, this all happens in hell itself, and is not seen from heaven. Dante borrows from several sources, including Muslim beliefs about hell.

Does this mean that Islam is the source? Not according to the Qur'an. There is only one verse in it (Surah 17:1) saying Muhammed was taken on a white winged donkey-like beast (a buraq) to Jerusalem. Every year Muslims celebrate this at the feast of Lailat al-Miraj on the 27th of Rajab. This is the 'night journey' where tradition asserts he then ascended to heaven and had visions of the afterlife. He is shown the site of hell and sees the torments of different categories of sinners before the flames drive him back then the lid clangs inexorably over the pit. So, there's no mention of windows in heaven looking into hell either in the Qur'an or in the Hadiths (which, to the contrary, speak of a lid covering over the pit.)

This means we can eliminate the Qur'an as the source of this idea.

However, if the idea emerged out of folk-lore which had taken those slight mentions of hell and embellished them (distorted them, really) then you are unlikely to ever find the origin, the source. Wherever superstition grips the people, you will find fertile soil for seeds of imagination and story-telling only loosely based on what the Bible actually states about heaven and hell.

(P.S. Comments on this site are not for running commentaries; they're for ideas as to how an answer might be improved. The site 'Tour' at the bottom of this page, l.h.s., shows how this site is different to others in this regard.)


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