In canto 20 of Dante's Paradiso, Dante describes what Ciardi's footnotes on lines 106-117 say is a pious tradition that Pope Gregory (540-604) prayed for the salvation of the Emperor Trajan (53-117) and he was revived, preached to (by Jesus Himself), converted and went to Heaven.

Dante follows a legend that Gregory I prayed so ardently for the salvation of Trajan that God's voice replied "I grant pardon to Trajan" Since God so granted, it was, of course, predestined that he should so grant. Trajan therefore, could never have been truly damned, for no prayer can help the damned. But since none may go from Hell to Heaven ( with the exception of those souls Christ took with him in the Harrowing of Hell), it was necessary to restore Trajan to the flesh long enough to permit his conversion to Christ

This would appear on the level to be against what Our Lord said in the parable of Lazarus and the rich guy, that "None Shall Pass" from one side to the other. However, it also seems to be skirting around the very real and miraculous notion of revivification (i.e. where was the other Lazarus's soul when he died; did he receive particular judgement?).

So, maybe it stands to reason that our more virtuous ancestors may yet ascend to Heaven before the last day? In any event, is that the mode of ascent promised at the end of time?

  1. revive
  2. preach
  3. convert
  4. ascend

if it happens at the end of time, is a second (or third) death required?

Note, I tried putting a bounty on this question so I could get an answer to my question, but didn't get what I was looking for.

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    For a scholarly study of the pious tradition of Gregory the Great's Prayer for Trajan, see chapter 8 of a volume in the Oxford Studies in Historical Theology series: Rescue for the Dead: The Posthumous Salvation of Non-Christians in Early Christianity by Jeffrey A. Trumbower. Found a seemingly unauthorized PDF here. Chapter 8 starts at page 141, PDF page 98. Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 16:53
  • @GratefulDisciple that's great - thanks - I think I could formulate an answer on it - not sure about actual modern Catholic theology though.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 17:35
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    @MikeBorden I would have to think that both Lazarus's souls were in said bosom. Although one only allegorically. Either way, it's a good point because Trajan was not a BC emperor
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 13:14
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    @user we're talking about two different people named Lazarus
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 19:59
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    @User14 Two different Lazuruses (Lazuri?) as Peter has said, although I am not convinced that one is allegory. Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


According to Catholic theology, can a damned person be resuscitated, converted, and then go to Heaven?

The short answer is no. Otherwise Satan would have a chance to repent and be saved also. Both the fallen angels and the damned cannot repent because their wills can be never changed.

The Catholic Church says no. For example, the Catechism teaches, “there is no repentance for men after death,” and bases this teaching on the irrevocable character that man’s choice takes on after the soul separates from the body—similar to that of the angels (CCC 393). This is why the Catechism defines hell as the “definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed” (1033; emphasis added). - Why We Can’t Change Our Soul After Death

Not all pious traditions are true, whether from Dante or some pope.

Those in hell, whether men or angels, are fixed in their hatred against God and his Church. Repentance is impossible for them. As St. Thomas Aquinas says in his Summa Theologiae Question 98:

A person may repent of sin in two ways: in one way directly, in another way indirectly. He repents of a sin directly who hates sin as such: and he repents indirectly who hates it on account of something connected with it, for instance punishment or something of that kind. Accordingly the wicked will not repent of their sins directly, because consent in the malice of sin will remain in them; but they will repent indirectly, inasmuch as they will suffer from the punishment inflicted on them for sin.

Even though some thought Origen believed that Satan could possibly repent and be saved, the Church has condemned his possibility as not possible. Origen actually denied he stated this.

Did Origen believe in the salvation of the devil? He clearly believed that all rational souls were able to be saved (Contra Celsum 4.99) and this would, on Origen's view of the nature of demonic forces, have included the devil and his demons. So the accusation was stirred up that he taught the salvation of demons. But, in a letter to his friends in Alexandria he explicitly denied that he thought the devil and his demons would be saved. So did he or didn't he? Tricky.

Perhaps the following passage explains how he could maintain both positions:

“For the destruction of the last enemy must be understood in this way, not that its substance which was made by God shall perish, but that the hostile purpose and will which proceeded, not from God but from itself, will come to an end. It will be destroyed, therefore, not in the sense of ceasing to exist, but of being no longer an enemy and no longer death. For to the Almighty nothing is impossible, nor is anything beyond the reach of cure by its maker.”

In any case Dante’s Divine Comedy is not a theological work, but rather a medieval poem or fictional novel. It was written to be enjoyable reading and not a theological dissertation or something along those lines.

  • Well the devil wouldn't need to be revived. In any event, I'm not discussing the Divine Comedy, but the tradition that was cited in the footnotes. I'll try to make that more clear.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 13:36
  • "The short answer is no. Otherwise Satan would have a chance to repent and be saved." The reason the fallen angels cannot repent is that they will never change their minds. This is due to their nature and their knowledge. Whereas, since man learns through sense, a man who is supernaturally resuscitated could obviously change his mind and repent after his resuscitation. We'd need to hold that God never rendered an eternal judgement to this individual, since He knew that He would resuscitate him.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 22:16
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    "Otherwise Satan would have a chance to repent and be saved also." That doesn't necessarily follow. Angels for one don't die so resurrection isn't the impediment to their repentance. Angels cannot repent due to their knowledge.
    – eques
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 1:51
  • Those are significant claims, but I don't see support for them in the quotes.
    – Maverick
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 12:59
  • "“there is no repentance for men after death,” and bases this teaching on the irrevocable character that man’s choice takes on after the soul separates from the body" while this is true, your use of this quote implies that a soul with a reanimated body has an immovably fixed will. That would be the case at the resurrection at the end of time for one set of reasons. It is not clear that would be the case in the situation described in the question.
    – eques
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 19:55

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