Do Unbaptized Babies Go To Limbo?

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Limbo is a theory developed by Medieval theologians as the place where unbaptized persons go when they die. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Catholic Church nor has it been rejected by the Church.

The quandary goes something like this. If we are born with original sin and an infant dies before baptism, will he or she go to hell?

This is an interesting quandary. We know that we are born with original sin. We also know that baptism is necessary for salvation. Through baptism the stain of original sin is removed and we are made children of God. Yet, if an infant with original sin dies, does he or she go to hell? Normally a person who dies with sin does not enter heaven. However, infants have no culpability in their sin; they have not committed personal sin. Original sin is inherited, it is not a choice made by the infant to turn away from God. Infants do not have the capability to choose to sin. Is it possible that God would send these innocent children to hell?

History of Limbo

In response to Pelagius (d. 425), who taught that the heresy that baptism is not necessary for salvation (called Pelagianism), St. Augustine (d. 430) contended that unbaptized children who die are condemned to hell, though they do not suffer all its pains because they are not guilty of personal sin.

Later theologians, in the Middle Ages, posited the existence of limbo as a way to soften the harshness of St. Augustine’s position. Unlike the state of quasi-hell posited by St. Augustine, these theologians defined limbo as a quasi-heaven, a place or state of where unbaptized persons enjoy a natural state of happiness yet remain excluded from the Beatific Vision. Some incorrectly identify this limbo with the hell of the Apostle’s Creed where, according to tradition, Christ spent the interval between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Limbo’s theological foundations are shaky at best. The Catholic Church teaches that God wants all people to be saved; God wills for all people to join him in heaven. We also know that God is merciful and that people can get to heaven who have not known Jesus through no fault of their own. Therefore, that souls who are denied the beatific vision and sent to a place that’s not quite heaven and not quite hell is incongruous with God’s universal salvific will and mercy.

While the church neither accepts nor condemns the teaching of limbo, it plays no role in contemporary Catholic theology. Modern theology and church practice stress the fundamental solidarity of redeemed humanity and God’s will that all are saved.


  1. Julie says

    Well you have to go on church teaching. You can’t just say Jesus came and now you are justified. That is ludicrous. Bobby English probably said it best, but I have heard doctrine say unbaptized babies go to a part of hell with no fire. So I will have to look further into that. Jesus came and established a church the ONE and only True church which is pre Vatican Catholic Church. You must go on those original teachings or you will suffer hell no matter who you are or what you believe or your age. We are all under the same umbrella, if you don’t believe in the Catholic faith it doesn’t make it untrue. You can deny the truth of anything, you can argue gravity is not real but you sure will fall. We all have an obligation to know the truth and no one will be excused, infants and young children can’t do so on their own, when you bring precious life into this world their life and soul are in your hands to do what is right, which includes baptism, just as feeding changing and loving them. They can not live without food, water, or even love and affection and can not enjoy eternal life without baptism. We are in revelations and make no mistake we are seeing the counter church, this new Catholic Church is not the true church. We are warned of a counter church and the one true church will be reduced to a remnant, the first Christian church was founded by the apostles who wrote the bible and that is the Catholic Church and many Saints have wrote letters as to be careful of the end times and not to believe when they try to change doctrine. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles as they wrote and once doctrine was established it could not be changed. Learn the true history, if you love the truth you will see, go to the website, stay in the darkness if you choose but remember gravity is real and you will fall.

  2. Peter joy says

    As a Christian, it is neccessary to follow the way of Christ, I strongly believe that infants are novice of the sin they commit, so, I don’t really believe that they will go to hell. About purgatory, either it exist or not one need to live a holy life to avoid any obstacle from getting to heaven.

  3. Paul says

    Limbo is just another false teach fabricated by the RCC. There is no limbo and there is no purgatory. The RCC fabricated Limbo 1000 years ago because so many babies were dying at childbirth. The RCC needed to compel parents to bring their infants to the church for baptism so they get people locked into their religion of bondage and fear (satanic). With so many distraught mothers who had just watched their babies die at childbirth they feared they had brought a baby into the world and now the baby was headed straight for hell. The RCC made up Limbo to make it all better. Oh what a tangled web we weave…. Purgatory was also made up so that you would never come to the knowledge of salvation by Grace….the blood of Jesus. You can’t save yourself …you can’t even help!! Ephesians 2:8-10. Look it up! Don’t believe the lies of the RCC. The RCC is Satans’ invention and if you think you can earn your way to heaven….Satan wins and you lose! Trust in the blood of Jesus. It is His substitutionary atoning sacrifice that offers you your only hope. He came to rescue YOU! Trust in Him and let Him save you. Read your Bible and ignore all this catholic nonsense. You will never be justified by being “good” because God’s standard is completely beyond our ability to reach. That’s why we need a Savior!! Thank you Jesus! He did it all. trust in Jesus alone. No church or religion can save you. Only the precious blood of Jesus. Former Catholic

  4. Miguel Lahunken says

    In 1100 AD some Cathars invented the Sacrament of Unbaptism.
    “Give up Heaven to avoid Hell, and go to Limbo”. Sound Catholic dogma. But, the Pope ordered the Albigensian Crusade to exterminate all knowledge of this concept. Two million French men, women, and children were slaughtered.
    But, the actual act of Unbaptism was a profanation of the Sacred Mysteries, still suppressed today by those who claim to be the “sole repository of the Sacred Mysteries”.

  5. Miho says

    To say that we are saved by baptism of water, or go to hell, reminds me of The thief on the cross with Jesus, where Jesus said “Today you will be with Me in paradise”.
    It also debunks SDA beliefs of ‘soul sleep’.

  6. Clara says

    Jesus said, “Suffer the children to come to me…” He also cured the cripple whose friends lowered him through the roof, because of the Faith of the friends, The Church teaches Baptism of desire. Putting these together, I believe that ANYONE, not just infants, who dies without Baptism, but who would have wanted it if he had known about it, receives Baptism of desire.

    • Miho says

      Our sins are not washed by water baptism. If that was the case, than Jesus didn’t have to come. This doctrine is man made, not biblical. 1 john 1:7-“..and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”.
      Infants are blameless and innocent Deut. 1:39. And Jesus himself was baptized at the age of 30 years old in Luke 3:23. The bible has the answers about our salvation, not a non-biblical “religion”.
      Think about this, are you guaranteeing your eternity by man made Roman doctrine, or by the word of God in His book…The Bible? Who are you going to believe for your eternal occupancy?
      Jesus died for you, and gave us His words in the bible, to follow Him if we loved Him, to keep His commandments (john 14:15). Satan has deceived many religious domination, by thinking we can be save by being a part of a so-called true church, because we are the church that He is coming back for (Ephesians 5:25-27.
      Christianity is not a religion, it’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

  7. [email protected] says

    no, unborn babies go to heaven because they have never sinned against God. only good dancers go to limbo because it is a nice dance. they are still there doing the limbo. he idea of it all is that most catholic doctrine are a fraud just like limbo is, cha cha cha

  8. Josh says

    Do you have the reference citing Augustines belief in unbaptised babies going to hell? I would love it. Thanks.

    • Bobby English says


      In past centuries, the Roman Catholic Church approved, with the highest authority, the teaching of St. Augustine on the fate in HELL FIRE of infants who die without baptism. Augustine drew upon the Bible to maintain against the British monk Pelagius and his camp in the fifth century the following points of doctrine.

      (1) That infants who die without baptism have the penalty of FIRE IN HELL with the devil;

      (2) That there is no place anywhere, in heaven, hell or anywhere else, where unbaptized infants have rest and happiness.

      Since that time it has been a part of the Pelagian heresy to deny that doctrine.

      The teaching of St. Augustine on the fate of unbaptized infants was codified at the XVI Council of Carthage in 418, the Council of Lyons II in 1274, and at the Council of Florence in 1438-1445.

      The teaching of these councils is considered to be infallible by Catholic theologians because of the degree of authority given to them by popes. However, medieval Scholastics departed from the doctrine and revived the Limbo heresy of the Pelagians; Rome would now admit unbaptized infants to heaven in the universal salvation of all people.

      The Catholic Church has infallibly taught the doctrine, which Augustine defended against the Pelagians, that all are conceived actually guilty of original sin and are punished by God in body and soul for that guilt.

      The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was a doctrinal ecumenical council that is accepted as infallible by all Catholic theologians. It defined that “all people lost their innocence” in the original sin; indeed, we are born with “the guilt of original sin”, which has the “true and proper nature of sin” and is “in each one as his own.”

      Council of Trent:

      “The holy Synod declares first, that, for the correct and sound understanding of the doctrine of Justification, it is necessary that each one recognize and confess, that, whereas all people had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam…”

      Council of Trent:

      “If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. let him be anathema.”

      Council of Trent:

      “If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam – which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propagation, is in each one as his own – is taken away by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.”

      Trent defined that death and the punishment of the body are due to people due to the guilt that they have from the sin of Adam.

      “If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death and the punishment of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:–whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.”

      Catechism of Trent:

      “Wherefore, the pastor should not omit to remind the faithful that the guilt and punishment of original sin were not confined to Adam, but justly descended from him, as from their source and cause, to all posterity.”

      The various creatures, human and natural, are like unto ministers used by God to inflict punishment for him, in this world and the next. God deliberately and intentionally permits a tsunami flood to kill hundreds of thousands of people – including infants – because they deserve to suffer and die for the guilt of original sin.

      So, infants have the guilt of original sin as their own and are due “death and the punishment of the body” as a result. Indeed, God has evidently chosen to subject infants to many of the sufferings, torments and tortures of the present world that are due to that sin. To now refine our analogy for the punishment of unbaptized infants in hellfire: infants are not spared fire in this life or the painful anguish of the senses that it is wont to sharply invoke. Many infants have been scolded, burnt to death, maimed. Their anguished cries have made clear their dreadful agony. The fiery torments of infants have been enacted countless times and continue to be daily, right in the United States.

      ‘A baby or toddler under age five dies nearly every day in a residential fire,’ said Homeland Security Under Secretary Michael D. Brown. ‘These young children have a disproportionately higher risk of fire death than the rest of the population. They depend on their parents and caregivers to keep them safe, to prevent residential fires from starting, and to increase the chances that the entire family can escape a fire quickly and safely. From 1989 through 1998, U.S. children younger than age five were twice as likely as the rest of the population to die in a residential fire; in that decade 5,712 children died in fires in this country, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA and the initiator of the campaign.’ (Marinwood Fire Department, August 27, 2003)

      If the forcefulness of the men of Sodom afforded brimstone and fire, it is clear that being born of chaste marriage affords no less. It would be Pelagian to deny that infants are conceived meriting the punishment of the body that is due to the posterity of Adam. The infants are getting what they deserve.

      Thus it will be of no great surprise to learn that damned infants are engulfed in the fires of eternity. Countless billions of infants depart without baptism and are cast screaming into the furnace.

      We shall now present the magisterial texts in which it was defined that unbaptized infants have the punishment of FIRE IN HELL.

      The definition of Carthage XVI that there is no place anywhere of rest and happiness and that infants are punished in the fire

      The canons of Carthage XVI are considered to be infallible by Roman Catholic theologians because Pope St. Innocent (-417) and Pope St. Zosimus (-418) approved of them as a rule of the faith.

      The canons include the following.

      “It has been decided likewise that if anyone says that for this reason the Lord said: “In my house there are many mansions”: that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where happy infants live who departed from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is life eternal, let him be anathema. For when the Lord says: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God” [John 3:5], what Catholic will doubt that he will be a partner of the devil who has not deserved to be a coheir of Christ? For he who lacks the right part will without doubt run into the left [cf. Matthew. 25:41,46].”

      The canon was written by St. Augustine who was present at the council and condemns the doctrine of the Pelagians regarding the fate of unbaptized infants. It also defines his own doctrine about their fate, as the true doctrine of the Catholic Faith.

      Patrick J. Toner in his article on Limbo in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 admits that the Fathers of Carthage condemned the “Pelagian teaching affirming the existence of ‘an intermediate place, or of any place anywhere at all (ullus alicubi locus), in which children who pass out of this life unbaptized live in happiness.’” He further admits that the canon means that “unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned”.

  9. jim says

    I’m a former Catholic however now I consider myself a “spiritual” person. I believe in a higher power that is way beyond our comprehension. A power that cannot be LIMITED by concepts constructed by man – be they christian, jew, muslim, or whatever.

  10. Mary Freeman says

    Jesus died for all sin, even original sin. And no baptism does not wash original sin nor any other sin from our souls.

  11. lito rosales says

    as a catholic i still beleive that infants still go to heaven. why? everyone should remember that jesus is the high priest of the catholic as god and high priest we should not speculate that jesus cannot act on this matter of unbaptized fact i have read some church activities being performed by jesus directly as seen by msytics.baptizing children is one of those things that jesus have already done.

  12. Madiha Kaleem says

    This is all very interesting… In the Islamic faith, we believe quite the opposite! We believe that all babies are born pure and sinless, and go to heaven when they die no matter which religion they are born into. Children only become accountable for their actions and start accumulating sins when they reach puberty.

  13. Varon Cook says

    It’s a pity that hard hearted men would lay such claims at the feet of our benevolent God. Would a God of loving-kindness and tender mercies, towards sinful men who had no merit to deserve such grace, ever send an infant, or any child, to so foul a place as hell, which was reserved first for the angels who rebelled against God’s kingdom, and then for the men and women who rejected His Christ? It not only defies reason, but the heart of compassion rebels against it, and the Holy Spirit bears witness against it.

    Recall that Jesus said, “suffer the little children to come to me.”

    Christ’s ransom upon the cross paid for your sins, and for my sins, and the sins for all the world — but those who willfully refuse Christ are fit for only one destination — hell.

    Those who receive Christ, though we have sinned and been rebels at times, we are born again, made new creatures in Christ, a part of a holy priesthood, joint-heirs to the kingdom of God. The blood of Christ has covered our sins, and we are in Christ, and Christ in us.

    Little children occupy a special place in God’s heart. Recall that we are told that if we would see the kingdom of heaven we must become, how? We must become as little children! They don’t need to become as we are… sinners saved by grace, but we need to become as they are — the beloved and blameless children of God, who know only heaven as their future home.

  14. Danielmary Ridan says

    Sir Jon, I have read your articles concerning limbo and purgatory. Please I dont know if it pleases you for me to do an extract in the article and put them into writting, all my own is to see that i take the church to the highest level. Am By name bro. Daniel of age 16. Please looking forward for your reply sir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *