Friday, January 6, 2012

Clearing up some myths about virgin saints

A friend who is a victim of childhood sexual abuse alerted me to a bit of incorrect information offered by Father Z on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say? on the subject of what is required for a saint to qualify as a virgin saint.

You can read Father Z's mistaken answer here and my correction in his comments section here. [Update, 1/9/11: Father Z's original post stated, "To be given the title 'virgin' the woman had to be physically a virgin. Full stop." He has since corrected it, as I had requested, to add that an exception is made in the case of women who lost physical virginity against their will.]

Bottom line: St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas taught that virgins who are raped do not forfeit their virginity. What is more, according to Aquinas, a holy virgin who is raped not only retains her virginity; she receives a second crown in heaven for having endured the outrage of being violated. He adds that she remains a virgin in the eyes of the Church even if her rape results in her bearing a child.

That is the doctrine of our glorious Church, and more people need to be made aware of it. There are a lot of Catholics out there who are hurting because they suffered sexual abuse and are under the misapprehension that the Church perceives them as being stained by what was done to them against their will. It is my hope that my upcoming book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints will dispel such myths and help victims find the healing that is available only in and through Christ in His Church.