Question: Why do Catholics say that Jesus "descended into Hell" in the
Our modern understanding of the word "hell" associates hell with the place of those who are eternally damned. ?
However, initially "hell" was translated from the Greek word "Hades" and from the Hebrew word "Sheol", which simply referred to the place of the dead. That is, the place that souls went prior to Christ's atoning death on the cross. After Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension, those souls were "released" into heaven or hell.
The term "hell" is a Germanic term that used to be a synonym for Hades. As such, it could refer to the place of the unrighteous or the righteous dead. Thus, when in the Apostles’ Creed we say that Jesus "descended into hell," we mean to the place of the righteous dead, not the unrighteous. Over time the term in English has come to refer exclusively to the place of the damned. source