Baptism of blood/desire and canonized Saints?

Hello all,

We know that baptism is necessary for salvation; but we also know that there are 3 types of baptism:

  1. sacramental (water) baptism
  2. baptism of desire (you desire to be baptized but die before having it happen)
  3. baptism of blood (you’re martyred before getting baptized).

All three are baptisms, even if you don’t have a water baptism.

So now I’m wondering, do we have any actual canonized Saints who died from baptism of blood or baptism of desire?


There is only one type of Christian Baptism, and that is water Baptism. It is possible that the Grace of water Baptism may be imparted apart from water, through desire (and the subset, of blood).

So now I’m wondering, do we have any actual canonized Saints who died from baptism of blood or baptism of desire?

We might. I am not aware of any specific Saints, but the Church has canonized “St. Charles Lwanga and Companions,” who all died a martyr’s death, but there is no specific evidence that his companions had received water Baptism (we don’t even know their names). I’m sure there are other accounts.

Well the Bible doesn’t say Saints Mary, Joseph, John, and Elizabeth were baptized with water.

Correct, I shouldn’t have said 3 “types” of baptism, but 3 ways of baptism. Obviously the grace of baptism is the same within all of them (reception of the Holy Spirit and washing and forgiveness of all sin original and actual). My point is that a person doesn’t absolutely NEED the water, since God can do it Himself if a person dies before the physical sacrament occurs.

So I was just wondering if we have any canonized saints that this has happened to. I’ll look into the people you mentioned.

Not quite. The word “Baptism” literally means “Wash”, and one can truly be washed of sin by desire or blood. You are correct in that only the washing of sin by water is sacramental.

The Church does not canonize all who go directly to Heaven, only those whose lives were a good example, and not even all of those, since the rules regarding evidence of sanctity are so great.

Hello Kep.

Half your question is easy the other half not so easy. The easy half first: those Saints who died before receiving Baptism of water but instead received Baptism of Blood are Martyrs. They died for the Faith even though they may not have yet been formally received into the Church before they died. The first three hundred years is full of their accounts.

Now the second half: I don’t know rightly off the top of my head where to find an account of a person who died desiring Baptism that the Church has confirmed is in Heaven. Someone more familiar with this would have to help you with that one, but I’m sure there are many. Children who haven’t be Baptized yet for whatever reason, say the American Indian children who died while being evangelized by the Jesuits whose parents weren’t fully catechized yet to permit their Baptisms would probably fall into this category. Or others who passed on while on the journey to the Font but didn’t quite make there yet.

Hand in there and keep asking. I’m sure someone here at CAF or elsewhere can answer part two of your question much better than me.


I can think of the “sympathisers” who were executed with the Martyrs, but who were not yet “water~baptized” Christians themselves.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know how to look up their names. There must be some historical society with access to Roman ledgers, though…

But that wasn’t the OP’s question. The OP asked if any such martyrs are Canonized Catholic Saints. If they were, we would know their names. The only way a person can be a Canonized Catholic Saint without us knowing their names would be a “group” canonization, such as the one I cited (St. Charles Lwanga and Companions).

If we knew for sure that at least one of St. Charles’ companions had not received water Baptism then this would be an answer to the OP’s question (regardless of whether we knew a name). However, nothing is known for certain about his companions.

Those who died with Baptism of Desire that merited Heaven by such desire will be made known to us when we enter Heaven itself. It is sufficient to know that such a state exists. As was said by another, not all the Saints in Heaven are known to the Church on earth. Any of the Saints of the Old Testament certainly would have received Baptism of desire.


Yes. St. Emerentiana and St. Victor are two examples. Here are their entries in the Roman Martryology (an extensive, but not exhaustive list of Saints recognized by the Church):

[quote=Roman Martyrology]January 23: At Rome, the holy virgin and martyr Emerentiana. Being yet only a catechumen, she was stoned to death by the Gentiles, whilst praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, her foster-sister.

[quote=Roman Martyrology]April 12: At Braga, in Portugal, St. Victor, martyr, who although only a catechumen, refused to adore an idol, and confessed Jesus Christ with great constancy. After suffering many tortures, he was beheaded, and thus merited to be baptized in his own blood.

Other martyred catechumens are also mentioned, including St. Rhais and St. Hericlides:

[quote=Roman Martyrology]June 3: At Alexandria, in the same persecution of Severus, the holy martyrs Plutarch, Serenus, Heraclides, catechumen, Heron, neophyte, another Serenus, Rhais, catechumen, Potamicena and Marcella, her mother.

Finally, there is an unnamed soldier converted by St. Alban when he was escorting St. Alban to his execution that was “baptized in his own blood”:

[quote=Roman Martyrology]June 3: At Verulam, in England, in the time of Diocletian, St. Alban, martyr, who gave himself up to save a cleric whom he had harbored. After being scourged and subjected to bitter torments, he was sentenced to capital punishment. With him suffered also one of the soldiers that led him to execution, who was converted to Christ on the way, and merited to be baptized, in his own blood.

Besides all of the OT Saints, we have some.

Saint Felicitas was a catechumen who was arrested with St Perpetua.

A couple more mentioned here:

The Emperor Valentinian II was on the way to Milan to be baptized when he
was assassinated; St. Ambrose said of him that his desire had been the
means of his cleansing.

Martyrdom for Christ’s sake is the baptism of blodd. This the holy
innocents received, and the Church commemorates them as saints. All
unbaptized persons who suffer martyrdom for the Christian faith, for some
act of Christian virtue, or the fulfilment of a Christian duty, also
received the baptism of blood. Witness St. John Baptist; or St.
Emerentiana, who while yet a catechumen, was found by the pagans praying
at St. Agnes’ tomb, and was put ton death by them. The Church does not
pray for the unbaptized who suffer death for Christ; for He Himself says,
“He that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it.” (Matt. x. 39).

The “Holy Innocents” would qualify in this regard.

I agree up to a point -but I am not convinced that the Church has canonically defined the Holy Innocents as Saints.

Just because the Church has something on the Liturgical Calendar does not mean that the subject is a Saint. The Church has buildings on the Liturgical Calendar (such as the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, celebrated on Nov 9).

I cannot find any definition of the Holy Innocents as canonized Saints.

Hello David.

I think this will serve to give you a different perspective about the subject:

Excerpt from NewAdvent:

The Latin Church instituted the feast of the Holy Innocents at a date now unknown, not before the end of the fourth and not later than the end of the fifth century. It is, with the feasts of St. Stephen and St. John, first found in the Leonine Sacramentary, dating from about 485. To the Philocalian Calendar of 354 it is unknown. The Latins keep it on 28 December, the Greeks on 29 December, the Syrians and Chaldeans on 27 December. These dates have nothing to do with the chronological order of the event; the feast is kept within the octave of Christmas because the Holy Innocents gave their life for the newborn Saviour. Stephen the first martyr (martyr by will, love, and blood), John, the Disciple of Love (martyr by will and love), and these first flowers of the Church (martyrs by blood alone) accompany the Holy Child Jesus entering this world on Christmas day. Only the Church of Rome applies the word Innocentes to these children; in other Latin countries they are called simply Infantes and the feast had the title “Allisio infantium” (Brev. Goth.), “Natale infantum”, or “Necatio infantum”. The Armenians keep it on Monday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost (Armenian Menology, 11 May), because they believe the Holy Innocents were killed fifteen weeks after the birth of Christ.

So, if what you say is correct, the Church is wrong to keep this Feast day? Or perhaps you just haven’t heard of it and it has slipped your mind?


The OPs question was, “…do we have any actual canonized Saints who died from baptism of blood or baptism of desire?”

Yes and no. The records are scanty.

Our Eastern Orthodox Brethren hold that St. Christina of Tyre most likely was not baptized with water before her martyrdom, but again, those records have come to us more as legend than evidence.

Ultimately, the only answer is that the disposition of our souls is left to God. We try to trust in His mercy without presuming upon His grace.

Many early Martyrs do not have their names recorded in the “parish rolls,” ( :wink: ) and we can only believe that if a saint is NOT noted to have had a water baptism, then he or she received a Baptism of Blood or Desire.

Many early Martyrs, such as the Holy Innocents, do not have a canonization date because they were canonized pre-congregation:

Also see the Wiki here:, especially the section on pre congregation saints.

There are many early, locally known, not universally recorded saints whose lives cannot be investigated according to to modern standards of canonizations.

The first reason is that we are separated by centuries from accurate information and witnesses. Second, the early Church did not have a lengthy process or an established congregation to investigate. Wiki explains more succinctly: “Pre-congregational saint is a term for a saint whose beatification and/or canonization occurred before the institution of the modern investigations performed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (i.e. pre-11th century). It designates those who were canonized by local bishops, primates, or patriachs, often as a result of a local custom, veneration or devotion.”

Third, before the Church was more federated in its administration, people were declared saints by the local ordinary or via popular piety. Many of the oral traditions (very few were written, depending on the era, culture, and education of the local people) became pious legends (such as the stories which surround St. Rosalia or St. Christopher).

Also, in more recent times, due to war and violence, evidence of miracles, records such as life stories, and lists of witnesses have been destroyed. Consider, though, even without this information, some saints are still declared; I’m thinking specifically of the 118 Vietnamese Martyrs.

Interestingly, even after finding no concrete evidence because of war, some apparitions are still declared worthy of belief, such as Our Lady of LaVang.

Incidentally DavidFilmer, the names of St. Charles’ companions are certainly recorded:

Genesis, Gkenda, FatherKnows and all…I’m sorry I didn’t see your examples before I replied.

I did remember Felicity ! How could I forget! :stuck_out_tongue:

Of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, one was a soldier who converted on the spot at the last minute and took the place of one of the original forty who failed to persevere and died just as he was about to approach the warm baths.

When we discuss the Baptism of Desire, is it only our personal desire or does maternal or paternal desire count as sufficient? We accept infant Baptism which is solely based on the desire/faith of the parents. It would seem that Jesus also accepted the faith of friends for the forgiveness of sins as well as the healing of the paralyzed man that was lowered through the roof.

This is no small question for those of us who suffer with the miscarriage of a child.

The Baptism of Blood. Many religions share the belief that those who die for God are martyrs who gain Heaven. Catholicism is no exception. Many believe that the little preborn babies who die of abortion are sacrificed for convenience (or necessity, in rare cases), and are therefore true martyrs, as were the Holy Innocents, the babies who died at Herod’s hands in place of Jesus. The Catholic Church canonized the Holy Innocents due because their deaths were to odium fidei, or hatred of the Faith. Father Benedict Groeschel says that it is reasonable to expect that unborn babies may also be killed due to odium fidei (or odium Dei), and therefore assume the status of latter-day Holy Innocents.[19]

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