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Krush2k2

Saints Who Commited Suicide?

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Krush2k2
I read on another thread that the church actually canonized and made saints of some people who commited suicide. One name
was St.Pelagia. Do you know of any other saints that the church canonized after suicide and how was the act for that particular
saint justified?

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Resurrexi
Jumping off a building in order to avoid getting raped by Roman soldiers is not the same committing the sin of suicide. Edited by Resurrexi

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StColette
There are a few Saints named Pelagia. The one I'm most familiar with was martyred during the time of Diocletian. I think she might have been roasted to death. Btw we should also keep in mind that the canonization process that we have today is not the process that existed long ago. Saints during the earlier period were declared such by popular demand. There wasn't a formal canonization process.

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Resurrexi
I think that the original poster was talking about this St. Pelagia:

Pelagia was a Christian virgin fifteen years of age. Soldiers came in search of her, evidently during the Diocletian persecution, in order to force her to offer publicly a heathen sacrifice. She was alone in the house, no one being there to aid her. She came out to the soldiers sent after her and when she learned the order they had toexecute, she requested permission to go again into the house in order to put on other clothing. This was granted to her. The virgin who probably knew what was before her was not willing to expose herself to the danger of being dishonoured. She therefore went up to the roof of the house and threw herself into the sea. Thus she died, asSt. Chrysostom says, as virgin and martyr, and was honoured as such by the Antiochene Church. St. Ambrose also mentions this Pelagia of Antioch

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StColette
[quote name='Resurrexi' date='06 October 2009 - 07:03 PM' timestamp='1254870182' post='1979489']
I think that the original poster was talking about this St. Pelagia:

Pelagia was a Christian virgin fifteen years of age. Soldiers came in search of her, evidently during the Diocletian persecution, in order to force her to offer publicly a heathen sacrifice. She was alone in the house, no one being there to aid her. She came out to the soldiers sent after her and when she learned the order they had toexecute, she requested permission to go again into the house in order to put on other clothing. This was granted to her. The virgin who probably knew what was before her was not willing to expose herself to the danger of being dishonoured. She therefore went up to the roof of the house and threw herself into the sea. Thus she died, asSt. Chrysostom says, as virgin and martyr, and was honoured as such by the Antiochene Church. St. Ambrose also mentions this Pelagia of Antioch
[/quote]

hmm not the version of her biography I'm familiar with.

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CatherineM
You could make the argument that Samson committed suicide by pulling the temple down on top of himself. King Saul stabbed himself after receiving a mortal wound. Neither of them are canonized though.

St. Nicholas Owen was accused by his jailers of having committed suicide. Saint Callistus had attempted suicide, but was saved.

If you want to know about some of the mortal failings of those who were later canonized, a good book is "Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints" by Vincent J. O'Malley C.M.

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StColette
I would say that if she threw herself into the sea, I doubt she meant to commit suicide. It's quite possible to jump into the sea and survive.

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mommas_boy
[quote name='Resurrexi' date='06 October 2009 - 07:03 PM' timestamp='1254870182' post='1979489']
I think that the original poster was talking about this St. Pelagia:

Pelagia was a Christian virgin fifteen years of age. Soldiers came in search of her, evidently during the Diocletian persecution, in order to force her to offer publicly a heathen sacrifice. She was alone in the house, no one being there to aid her. She came out to the soldiers sent after her and when she learned the order they had toexecute, she requested permission to go again into the house in order to put on other clothing. This was granted to her. The virgin who probably knew what was before her was not willing to expose herself to the danger of being dishonoured. She therefore went up to the roof of the house and threw herself into the sea. Thus she died, asSt. Chrysostom says, as virgin and martyr, and was honoured as such by the Antiochene Church. St. Ambrose also mentions this Pelagia of Antioch
[/quote]

There are all sorts of stories of the Saints that are simply untrue. Many are the result of a pious, well-meaning public, others not so much. Some claim that many Saints were gay, for example. Here, we see claims that a Saint committed suicide. So, I would ask you who your source is, and more importantly, who their source is.

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Resurrexi
[quote name='mommas_boy' date='06 October 2009 - 06:14 PM' timestamp='1254870861' post='1979496']
There are all sorts of stories of the Saints that are simply untrue. Many are the result of a pious, well-meaning public, others not so much. Some claim that many Saints were gay, for example. Here, we see claims that a Saint committed suicide. So, I would ask you who your source is, and more importantly, who their source is.
[/quote]

Catholic Encyclopedia

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homeschoolmom
[quote name='Resurrexi' date='06 October 2009 - 06:54 PM' timestamp='1254869667' post='1979484']
Jumping off a building in order to getting raped by Roman soldiers is not the same committing the sin of suicide.
[/quote]
I think you left out "avoid." ;)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, Rexi... but I seem to remember in a discussion on the fate of the people trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11 that you suggested that those who jumped to avoid being burned or crushed to death were wrong to do so. Was that what you had said? If so, is that still your position?

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Resurrexi
[quote name='homeschoolmom' date='06 October 2009 - 06:22 PM' timestamp='1254871341' post='1979501']
I think you left out "avoid." ;) [/quote]

You are right! :)

[quote name='homeschoolmom' date='06 October 2009 - 06:22 PM' timestamp='1254871341' post='1979501']
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, Rexi... but I seem to remember in a discussion on the fate of the people trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11 that you suggested that those who jumped to avoid being burned or crushed to death were wrong to do so. Was that what you had said? If so, is that still your position?
[/quote]

I don't recall saying about that, though I may have.

If I did, it isn't my position now. Edited by Resurrexi

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Guest Servant of Divine
A persn once asked "What's the difference between matyrdom and suicide?" Media Coverage.

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Resurrexi
[quote name='Servant of Divine' date='06 October 2009 - 07:00 PM' timestamp='1254873634' post='1979523']
A persn once asked "What's the difference between matyrdom and suicide?" Media Coverage.
[/quote]

I disagree with Panic! at the Disco. Edited by Resurrexi

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Innocent
I once made a post on this topic, but that thread has disappeared from the Phorum now. It's still visible on [url="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=mozilla&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aunofficial&num=30&q=Pelagia+And+Domnina%2C+Mentioned+in+the+book+%22Bushido%2C+the+Soul+of+Japan%22+site%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.phatmass.com%2F&aq=f&oq=&aqi="]Google Search[/url], but it's not on the Phorum.

The other saint was [url="http://www.antiochian.org/node/16768"]St. Domnia who jumped into a river with her daughters Berenice and Prosdoce[/url] again, to avoid rape by soldiers.

I remember back at that time, it was Aloysius (I think) who replied saying that it was possible that Ss. Pelagia and Domnia had received a private revelation from God permitting them to commit Suicide.

I found this Google Books preview of a book on Asian Christian Martyrs [[url="http://books.google.com/books?id=iF66EjdvDnYC&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149&dq=pelagia+suicide&source=bl&ots=pyxAcgT0o1&sig=-KkF-lxu2PpqB7huogheDytY4M0&hl=en&ei=MczLSqOIFtPQlAf5o4DZBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=pelagia%20suicide&f=false"]"Let us die that we may live": Greek homilies on Christian martyrs from Asia[/url]] which has a sermon of St. John Chrysostom on St. Pelagia. The complete sermon is not seen in the Google Books preview, but the introduction to the sermon is complete, wherein in the end it is said that according to St. John Chrysostom suicide is "a valid means of martyrdom" for ascetic women but a defeat for male martyrs.

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Krush2k2
I wonder how the line is drawn for justification. If the church justifies suicide for someone about 2 get raped, then whose 2 say a person who thinks getting abused by a father and commits suicide to get away from that goes to hell? What if to that person getting abused is just as bad as getting raped?

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goldenchild17
[quote name='StColette' date='06 October 2009 - 05:07 PM' timestamp='1254870453' post='1979493']
I would say that if she threw herself into the sea, I doubt she meant to commit suicide. It's quite possible to jump into the sea and survive.
[/quote]

yeah, both the old catholic encyclopedia and Butler's versions give that story. I wouldn't consider that willful suicide. And certainly not premeditated.

I do believe premeditated suicide to be a grave sin. That's not to say that all suicide victims are in hell. Definitely not, there are surely cases in which mental disabilities prohibit full understanding and willfulness. But I think the Church is very careful in regards to these cases and wouldn't canonize such a person, unless like St. Pelagia, there is clear and indisputable mitigating evidence that points to a non-mortal occasion. Edited by goldenchild17

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Maggyie
Krush, the Church would never say that someone who commits suicide to get away from abuse goes to Hell. In fact the Church never says whether someone has gone to Hell or not. We don't know if someone has been damned, only God knows. With regard to suicide, mental illness and fear of terrible suffering can greatly mitigate the guilt of the act. Someone who is being abused by their father definitely falls under that category. We can't ever say it was ok for someone to kill themselves, but God Who knows and sees our hearts can judge whether it was a mortal sin or not. The main thing is to try to prevent this sin from happening by getting people the help they need. It is so useless and such a waste of human life.

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Innocent
[quote name='Krush2k2' date='07 October 2009 - 11:08 AM' timestamp='1254890282' post='1979681']
I wonder how the line is drawn for justification. If the church justifies suicide for someone about 2 get raped, then whose 2 say a person who thinks getting abused by a father and commits suicide to get away from that goes to hell? What if to that person getting abused is just as bad as getting raped?
[/quote]

This is just a guess, but perhaps these incidents happened before the Church came to a definitive teaching about suicide and so perhaps Ss. Pelagia and Domnia were just following the pagan notion of suicide rather than dishonour?

Thus among the three conditions of knowledge, free will and grave matter for mortal sin, they wouldn't have satisfied the condition being "actions which proceed from the human will deliberately acting with knowledge of the end for which it acts."

I can't find any first-hand sources from Patristic or Scholastic writings, but I did find the below articles:

[center]______________________________________________________[/center]
[quote][b]In early Christianity, suicide was sometimes regarded as a virtuous act. Eusebius, in his account of martyrs at Antioch (Ecclesiastical History, Book 8, chapter 12), tells of a mother who taught her two beautiful unmarried daughters to regard rape as the most dreadful thing that could happen to them. Eventually the mother and daughters were captured by a band of lustful soldiers. On realizing their plight, they modestly requested to be excused for a minute. They then threw themselves into a nearby river and drowned.

In the fourth century Bishop Augustine discussed suicide at length. Recognizing that certain Christian women had committed suicide rather than permit their bodies to be ravaged, Augustine granted that they may have done what was right in the sight of God, but in his view the women should not have assumed that rape would necessarily have deprived them of their purity.[/b] Purity is a state of mind, he affirmed, so bodily violence cannot damage it. Job kept his moral integrity amid terrible suffering and did not take his life, Augustine noted. He found it significant that at no point does the Bible make it lawful to take one’s life. The command "Thou shalt not kill" implies, he argued, that one’s own life as well as the lives of others should be preserved. Samson’s suicide was a rare exception to this rule, for he received special divine permission. Concluded Augustine: "He who knows it is unlawful to kill himself may nevertheless do so if he is ordered by God" (City of God, Book I, Sections 18-26).

Augustine’s viewpoint on suicide has heavily influenced both Roman Catholics and Protestants. Thomas Aquinas, the most outstanding of Catholic theologians, gave three succinct arguments why suicide is a sin against self, neighbor and God. First, suicide is contrary to nature: every living organism naturally desires to preserve its life. Second, it is contrary to our social obligations: the whole human community is injured by self-killing. Third, suicide is contrary to our religious rights: God alone should decide when a person will live or die. Aquinas reasoned: "To bring death upon oneself in order to escape the other afflictions of this life is to adopt a greater evil in order to avoid a lesser. . . . Suicide is the most fatal of sins because it cannot be repented of" (Summa Theologica 2-2, q. 64,5). The poet Dante, following Aquinas’s theology, placed those who take their own lives on the seventh level of hell, below the greedy and the murderous (Inferno 13). For centuries those who committed the unconfessed and therefore unforgivable sin of suicide were not buried in cemeteries that Catholic priests had consecrated.[/quote]<emphasis added>[url="http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1924"]SOURCE[/url]

[quote] In the early Christian era suicide was not only tolerated, but condoned by the church, as a result certain sects such as the Donatists and the Circumcellions jumped off cliffs in great numbers to hasten an afterlife that promised greater rewards than those found on jolly old earth.

Faced with the loss of so many of its members, and rapidly shrinking collection plates, in (about) the sixth century the church decided that anyone else who committed suicide was going to hell.

The Donatists, of whom St Augustine said, "...to kill themselves out of respect for martyrdom is their daily sport." They were noted for jumping from cliffs, and also burned themselves to death in large numbers.[/quote] [url="http://www.a1b2c3.com/suilodge/fachis1.htm"]SOURCE[/url]

[quote]The advent of institutional Christianity was perhaps the most important event in the philosophical history of suicide, for Christian doctrine has by and large held that suicide is morally wrong, despite the fact that no passage in Scripture unequivocally condemns suicide. Although the early church fathers opposed suicide, St. Augustine is generally credited with offering the first thoroughgoing justification of the Christian prohibition on suicide (Amundsen 1989). He saw the prohibition as a natural extension of the fifth commandment:

The law, rightly interpreted, even prohibits suicide, where it says ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ This is proved especially by the omission of the word ‘thy neighbor’, which are inserted when false witness is forbidden in the commandment there is no limitation added nor exception made in favor of any one, and least of all in favor of him on whom the command is laid! (Augustine, book I, chapter 20)

Suicide, Augustine determined, was an unrepentable sin. St. Thomas Aquinas later defended this prohibition on three grounds. (1) Suicide is contrary to natural self-love, whose aim is to preserve us. (2) Suicide injures the community of which an individual is a part. (3) Suicide violates our duty to God because God has given us life as a gift and in taking our lives we violate His right to determine the duration of our earthly existence (Aquinas 1271, part II, Q64, A5). This conclusion was codified in the medieval doctrine that suicide nullified human beings' relationship to God, for our control over our body was limited to usus (possession, employment) where God retained dominium (dominion, authority). Law and popular practice in the Middle Ages sanctioned the desecration of the suicidal corpse, along with confiscation of property and denial of Christian burial.[/quote][url="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/suicide/#ChrPro"]SOURCE[/url]

[quote]It should be obvious to the attentive reader that a survey of patristic literature demonstrates that it is simply wrong to suggest that Augustine formulated what then became the "Christian Position" on suicide. Rather, by removing certain ambiguities, he clarified and provided a theologically cohent explanation of and justification for the position typically held by earlier and contemporary Christian sources.[/quote] [url="http://books.google.com/books?id=PdkEd1x-f5UC&pg=PA387&lpg=PA387&dq=suicide+in+the+early+church&source=bl&ots=A5QSKUuaGA&sig=dF7Gis4WprB5T3KKPgLXthMapNQ&hl=en&ei=Kh3MSqCZOIiwlAfs_fDPBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=11#v=onepage&q=suicide%20in%20the%20early%20church&f=false"]SOURCE[/url]

[quote]In the early church when persecution was common, there was some uncertainty about the dividing line between suicide (taking one s life) and martyrdom (laying down one s life). Some of the teachings of the early church fathers may have been initiated to help clarify this dilemma. Augustine and Aquinas are primarily responsible for the formulation of the current Christian position against suicide.[/quote] [url="http://www.cmda.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&CONTENTID=3989&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm"]SOURCE[/url]


[quote]Although none of the Jewish-Christian Apostles left teachings relating to suicide it is apparent that the early church took over Jewish traditions in its contrary attitude towards the sacredness of life and the excusability of suicide for religious reasons. For example, the second generation non-Jewish leaders such as Polycarp and Clement writing towards the end of the first century expressed a decisive objection to infanticide and abortion, which was not Greek or Roman in origin.

However, martyrdom was highly regarded by the early church and the boundary between it and suicide proved to be a narrow one. Tertullian addressing Christians in prison who were awaiting martyrdom, encouraged and strengthened them by citing the example of famous suicides including Lucretia, Dido and Cleopatra. Chrysostom and Ambrose both applauded Palagia, a girl of 15 who threw herself off the roof of a house rather than be captured by Roman soldiers. In Antioch, a woman called Domnina and her two daughters drowned themselves to avoid rape, an act which, as in the case of the Jews, was venerated.

Jerome also approved of suicide for religious reasons and did not condemn austerities which undermine the constitution and which might be regarded as slow suicide. He recounts, with the greatest admiration, the life and death of a young nun named Belsilla who imposed such penalties on herself that she died. Martyrdom eventually became so popular amongst the more fervent believers such as the Donatists that it threatened the credibility and, in places, the very existence of the church. How to respond to this fervour was a difficult task for leaders of a religion founded on Jesus's voluntary submission to death and whose early leaders had all been slain in the course of duty.

It was Augustine who finally rose to the challenge and who is credited with clarifying Christian thinking on this subject by synthesising Platonic and Jewish traditions in a way that gave greater emphasis to the former. In 'The City of God' he carefully weighed up the various arguments for and against suicide, concluding that suicide was always wrong, that it was a violation of the sixth commandment and never justified even in religious extremis. By the 5th century suicide was regarded by the church as sinful in all circumstances. [/quote] [url="http://www.ethicsforschools.org/suicide/ages.htm"]SOURCE[/url]

[center]______________________________________________________[/center]

The below is even less a standard source than the others, but only an abstract from someone's class project at a college I found online, but I'm including it here since I found it among the other search results:

[quote]It is only with the onset of Christianity as a dominant force in the Mediterranean basin that we begin to see a move away from total acceptance of suicide. Even then, however, the condemnation of suicide did not appear in a strong manner until two and three hundred years after Christ's death! Admittedly, most of the evidence that seems to support suicide is technically speaking of martyrdom, but many of the writings of the early church fathers also contain passages which expand the approval of martyrdom into the realm of general suicide. How and why did this change occur? By examining evidence from the whole range of this period from the 5th century BCE to the 5th century CE, we have seen that the arguments used for centuries by those in favor of suicide were inexorably reversed. Though certainly not the first to speak out against suicide, Augustine was the first to make solid reference to an actual commandment from God, whereas everyone before him had simply guessed at or made up what the deity would have thought.[/quote][url="http://dspace.nitle.org/handle/10090/9879"]SOURCE[/url]

[center]______________________________________________________[/center]


The below is from a source that rejects the teachings of Ss Augustine & Aquinas and thus also the Church teaching of suicide as sinful:

[quote]Josephus, however, argues that there are occasions where it is a greater sin to commit idolatry, incest, adultery, or murder, or allow oneself or one's family to be taken prisoner and tortured than it is to commit suicide.

The early church, after about AD 100, developed a theology and practice of martyrdom that reflected a total disdain for physical life, and promulgated the idea that only in a martyr's bloody death could "true discipleship" be attained and "true witness" expressed. This attitude was so widespread that at one point the Roman governor told the Christians that if they wanted to die, they should go and cast themselves over the cliff, rather than "keep troubling the magistrates to execute them".

The appalling consequences of this "martyr theology" resulted in St. Augustine appealing to the command "Thou shalt not kill" as expressly prohibiting suicide (i.e. self-sought martyrdom), unless God had given specific "secret instructions" to an individual to perform the act. [/quote][url="http://www.fiercegoodbye.com/?P=67"]SOURCE[/url]

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Krush2k2
"The Donatists, of whom St Augustine said, "...to kill themselves out of respect for martyrdom is their daily sport." They were noted for jumping from cliffs, and also burned themselves to death in large numbers."

Wow thats really dumb.lol

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tinytherese
:blink: This hits home with me. I have gone through sexual abuse from my own dad, not to the point of getting raped but sexual harassment from him. It has psychological affects on you that really mess up your mind. I developed severe depression last month mainly because of it. I had difficulty focusing in school because of what he could do was constantly on my mind and I felt helpless because my mom didn't appear to be supportive at the time. I hated the thought of going home from breaks for the next few years to that environment and last summer was a piece of hell on earth being at home with him. :sadder: Really late one night I became so frustrated and helpless that I suddenly wished for death. That night and hours later I suddenly kept having these ideas for how to kill myself. It scared me. I doubt that I would have actually tried to really do it but the ideas were there. I take medication for the depression now and I have had a heart to heart with mom about dad. Now they're getting ready to separate.

So there's your inside scoop for what it's like. I wouldn't be a martyr though had I killed myself. It's scary to think about what could have happened.

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