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Krush2k2

Saints Who Commited Suicide?

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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?
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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:

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[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]

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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]

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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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Old_Joe
He's not a Saint but I've heard that some people think that Thomas Merton may have committed suicide.

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Devout Catholic
On 10/6/2009 at 4:07 PM, StColette said:

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.

 

On 10/6/2009 at 3:54 PM, Resurrexi said:

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

I think we need to start with a definition of suicide from Webster:  "Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death."  Seems to fit the bill. She wasn't going swimming.

Next we need to know that the Roman Legionnaires did not threaten her with rape. If we read the text they hadn't even found her.  Also Legionnaires had a strict code and any rape would have been punishable by death.  

Peliagia appears to me to have been distressed and extremely frightened-As are many people who commit suicide. St Peliagia is often referred to by Pastors when a child commit suicide to give comfort to a family. If this young woman who committed suicide can be declared a saint then then they have hope. After all does anyone who commits suicide fully know what they are doing? Pelagia was made a saint to celebrate suicide but chastity. ironic because she wasn't even threatened with rape and the comfort she has given has been to families that have had someone commit suicide.

Lastly as Catholics we need to acknowledge that the process of declaring Catholic Saints isn't exact, nor even one that Jesus spelled out  and often driven by other inspirations.  We just need to look the list of declared saints, prior to about 1970 there were no women Doctors of the The Church,with a big oops the Church has  since added 4.  As  a matter of fact there were relatively few women saints and even less lay saints-I think only about 50 lay saints. The ratio today on saints is I believe about 7 men to each 1 woman. Are men more saintly then women? As a man I ahve to say no way. The reason is probably the same one one of the best pitchers,if not the best of all time,  Satchel Paige-an African American,  was not in the baseball hall of fame until modern times. The  nominating process was controlled by all the same people-a closed loop if you will.  Same for the Church, it starts with a Bishop who nominates someone, then the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, (other  clergy) can accept or deny and it goes forward from there.  Once we understand that it is not a surprise that the most  canonized saints are/were members of the clergy nor a surprise that it too decades for Satchel Paige to get nominated nor a surprise that a frightened young women who leapt to her death was nominated and cannonized.  

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tinytherese

Don't use The Catholic Encyclopedia from New Advent as a source. It's out of date (1910.) We weren't allowed to use it in my Church History classes. We also couldn't use Butler's Lives of the Saints because it's devotional, not scholarly.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia currently has editions from 1967 and 2003.

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