The nouth of the Masaya Volcano caldera in Nicaragua, is considered a gateway to the afterlife. According to locals, it was believed that the volcano was a god and that a sorceress lived inside the volcano’s pit. But when Spanish explorers arrived, who were not very familiar with volcanoes,  associated it as a source of devilish fire. In 1529, Mercedarian Fray Francisco de Bobadilla took a cross to the top of the Masaya volcano, hoping to exorcise what he though to be the “Mouth of Hell”. After him, there was Friar Toribio Benavente 1541 who believed that the volcano’s ongoing activity meant that the condemned were being thrown into the “Mouth of Hell” by the demons. Various religious figures pointed to the volcano as evidence of the horrors that would await sinners in Hell.

Not all Spanish friars believed this natural formation to be linked with Hell. Friar Blas del Castillo led the first Spanish expedition inside the volcanic crater in 1538 to search for gold and silver. Also, Friar Juan de Torquemada wrote about Masaya and other volcanoes  in 1615, asserting that it was ridiculous associate any volcanowith an entrance to Hell because souls are incorporeal and therefore Hell has no need of a physical entrance.

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