The Path to Hell is Paved with the Skulls of Bishops: 8 Quotes and Sources

“The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” – St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325 attributed.

Capuchin Monastery - Brno, Czech Republic. - Source Unknown

Listers, priests and bishops having been erring as long as humans have occupied those offices. However, the quotes that most strongly articulate this truth are shrouded in ambiguity regarding their primary sources. SPL has complied the most common germane quotes shared on Catholic blogs and given a citation for each one – often clarifying a misquote or giving context for an attributed quote. Please feel free to add any other quotes that complement this list or help articulate the sources.


“The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”

– or –

“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”
St. John Chrysostom attributed.1


“I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.”
St. John Chrysostom, Extract from St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12.2


“The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”
St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325 attributed.3


“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”
Saint John Eudes, attributed.4


“It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 45


“Augustine says in his Rule: ‘Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.’ But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 4, Sed Contra.


“It is better that scandals arise than the truth be suppressed.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great 6


“But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.'”
Pope Leo XIII7

  1. Chrysostom Quote: Ole “Golden-mouth” is the primary recipient of the attributed quote. The origin of the actual quote is obscure, but several theories abound. The most interesting are that the flourishing rhetoric of St. Chrysostom and Dantean imagery came together in the Middle Ages or that the quote was actually a misrepresentation of Chrysostom’s words from the protestant leader John Wesley. SOURCE []
  2. Chrysostom 2nd Quote: Homily III on Acts 1:12 []
  3. Athanasius Quote: Attributing the quote to Athanasius is a natural connection given the fact the man fought against the heresy of Arianism – a heresy that is estimated to have swallowed almost 80% of the Catholic bishops. []
  4. Eudes Quote: It is believed that St. Eudes is referencing the quote in the belief it was said by St. Athanasius []
  5. Aquinas Quote: The quote is also often cited as,”When there is an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects.” The entire fourth article of the cited question addresses the issue of “Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate?” []
  6. Gregory Quote: While prolifically quoted amongst blogs and Catholic debates, a source for this quote is elusive. If any listers can furnish a source and a citation, SPL would appreciate it. []
  7. Pope Leo Quote: The quote is taken from SAPIENTIAE CHRISTIANAE and is often quoted on Catholic blogs as: “when circumstances make it necessary, it is not prelates alone who have to watch over the integrity of the faith.” []
  • Michael H.

    This is why it is imperative that we the church militant offer daily prayers for our priests and religious. They do not deserve our scorn but instead require our prayers.

    • Michael – the vatican-2 heretic cult group leaders (dressed up like priests and bishops) are not in the Catholic Church. They are all automatically excommunicated for heresy and for physical participation in a heretic cult which rejects the Catholic Dogma.

      For 2000 YEARS and at 20 Worldwide General Councils, the Catholic Church has defined over and over and over that heretics and un-baptized pagans will descend into Hell (AND did NOT define ANY “loopholes” for ignorance, man’s desire, etc.).

      THEN … after 1965 and in the “v-2 council” documents heretics and un-baptized pagans were now suddenly getting to Heaven. Did God change His mind about bringing souls to Heaven in only one prescribed way ?

      No, the Catholic God did not change His mind.

      See my site >
      Section 1 > Salvation Sources of Dogma, infallible and unchangeable
      Section 5.1 > Catholic Dogma that “ignorance” sends you to Hell
      Section 7.2 > Water Baptism Dogma
      Section 13.2 > Automatic Excommunication Dogma
      Sections 12.6.1, 12.6.2, 12.7.1, 12.7.2, 13, and 13.1 > Photographic proof of heresy against the Catholic Dogma. Photographic proof is compelling.

      • Tom

        Argue with the Holy Spirit – He convened Vatican II! What kind and loving God could not – or would not – save ANY of His children, provided they were ignorant of the Faith, or, not living a righteous life? Are you smarter than the magisterium of the Church? Only GOD can judge!

        • Simon Reilly

          Blessed John XXIII convened the Council: the Holy Ghost isn’t in the habit if convening councils, only being present at them. In this case it is apparent that the Pope tempted God by calling the Council, having had no real cause to do so. – the results are all around us.

  • Matt F

    So confused……

  • t.g.lewis

    Our Bishops, especially the U.S.C.C.B. including the CCHD branch has one foot in hell, ask our Blessed Mother.

  • Mick

    I’m sure this will encourage lots of young men to become priests and bishops. Christ was most harsh with those who were arrogant and judgmental. One can be critical of the actions of certain priests and bishops without condemning them to hell, as if you know the final state of their souls.

  • Lee Gilbert

    Well, having experimented with this a bit, I would caution anyone thinking of publicly correcting a bishop, pastor or priest to be extremely circumspect. Absolutely, you do not want to be on the wrong side of, “Touch not my anointed and to my prophets do no harm,” lest you find yourself being corrected by the judgments of God. Nor, for that matter, do you want to indulge guilty silence. Long and short- be on your guard against guilt.

  • Matthew 13 The parable of the Weeds among the Wheat.

  • The article has a great fundamental flaw … the vatican-2 heretic cult which was founded on 8 December 1965 at the Vatican-2 does not have Catholic priests or bishops.

    The vatican-2 cult rejects all manner of prior defined Catholic Sources of Dogma on Salvation, Water Baptism, Justification, etc.

    The founding documents of this cult are the documents of the “vatican-2 council” … which have well over 200 heresies against the Faith.

    See Sections 12 and 13 of

    Critical to understanding this … the Catholic Dogma on automatic excommunication for heresy … listed on Section 13.2 of the above site.

  • Aunt Raven

    You wanted the source of the quote on “scandal” by Pope St Gregory the Great: –it is from his “Homilies on the Book of Ezekiel”, from either the 11th or the 12th homily. I don’t have the book in front of me, or I could be precise.

  • Jonathan

    There is an old Spanish proverb (quoted in Buero Vallejo, “La Dama del Alba”): “El infierno está empedrado con lenguas de mujer.” Personally, I wouldn’t assign this kind of pavement to anything below Purgatory…but I do sense a kind of meme here.

  • Greg

    I think that it is very true. Most of them are scum.

  • Theresa

    I put my faith in the Church, not in any human. Humans make mistakes and are sinners, even the ones in high offices of the Church. I love our Pope, I love the priests of our Church, but I do not “follow” them. I do listen to them and obey the teachings of the Church. My Faith is in Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. I do not let what any wayward priest or bishop does damage that Faith.

  • jn dewolf

    I trust 1st century true Christianity. “1 Lord, 1 Faith & 1 Baptism” of the NEVER changing God. My faulty “feelings”/”opinions” aren’t capable of replacing Divine Truth. Must stay with St. Louis Demontfort consecration to Immaculate Heart of Mother of God & Holy Ghost authored Solemn Magisterium. Communist infiltration of over 1100 perverts, commies etc. in 1930s was allowed by God & successful. Nothing Christian left in Rome except for maybe a remnant in hills. Blessed Mother is always right. “Rome will loose the Faith & become the seat of the anti-Christ.” IT DID!!! No chance of salvation outside of His original/only Church (meaning kingdom of Christ on earth). Opinion “religion” is eternal death!

  • St. Peter’s List is a great Web site with lots of useful links. I looked up the 9 ways to contribute to the sin of another just the other day. I, however, am not sure what this post adds though. The first four quotes don’t have credible attribution. It is better to throw it away than to sour the whole batch with a false quote.