Modern day martyr


#1

I wonder if the Church would consider a woman who dies as a result of pregnancy as a martyr. Especially if the woman knew that pregnancy could be fatal because of some pre-existing medical problem, and refused contraception despite todays acceptance and availability.

It would seem that she died “for her faith”, though not in the typical sense.

If the Church were to pronounce this as a path to martyrdom, this might be a powerful weapon against the culture of death.


#2

[quote=Black Jaque]I wonder if the Church would consider a woman who dies as a result of pregnancy as a martyr. Especially if the woman knew that pregnancy could be fatal because of some pre-existing medical problem, and refused contraception despite todays acceptance and availability.

It would seem that she died “for her faith”, though not in the typical sense.

If the Church were to pronounce this as a path to martyrdom, this might be a powerful weapon against the culture of death.
[/quote]

Wasn’t this the case of St. Gianna? She was diagnosed with an illness and was told she would die if she did not terminate the pregnancy. She went through with the pregnancy and died. She was canonized pretty recently I think.


#3

[left]St. Gianna Beretta[/left]

(1922-1962)
On April 24,1994, Pope John Paul II declared “blessed” a present-day Italian woman physician who accepted death rather than undergo an operation that would imperil the life of her unborn child. In beatifying this contemporary pro-life heroine, the Holy Father gave to the world a saintly intercessor against the international cruelty of abortion.

Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta, Italy, on October 4, 1922. She was tenth of the 13 offspring of admirable parents, who gave to their children a strong sense of prayer and trust in God’s providence.

Gianna, a highly talented young woman, called, as she felt, to the medical profession, won doctoral degrees in medicine and surgery in 1949 at the University of Pavia. The following year she opened a clinic at Mesero, near Magenta. Two years later she took advanced studies in pediatrics at the University of Milan. Thereafter Dr. Beretta specialized in the care of mothers and babies, and also the elderly and the poor. Gianna undertook the medical profession not simply as a means of support, or even as simply a philanthropy.

For her the practice of medicine was a spiritual “mission”. All during her student years she had done volunteer service to the needy and aged as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. As a physician she increased her generous service as a form of “Catholic Action”: lay volunteerism according to the mind and needs of the Church. But there was nothing of the “fanatic” about Dr. Beretta. She was a young woman of vigor and good cheer, a daring skier and mountain climber.

Marriage in 1955 merely gave Dr. Gianna a chance to expand her “missionary” efforts. Gianna and Pietro Molla were a joyful couple. She bore him three children in the next four years. A woman of balance and common sense, she successfully harmonized her careers of mother, wife, and medic.

However, when she became pregnant again in 1961, the doctor suddenly learned that a fibroma was developing in her womb. The baby was now in its second month.

Scientist and pediatrician as she was, Dr. Molla appreciated the threat that the growing tumor presented to her life if she did not undergo an operation. But the uterine operation would have meant death for the unborn baby.

It was a classic case that the Church has always pondered. Moral theology, although forbidding direct abortion, has taught that while surgeons should try to save both mother and child, it is permissible to remove a diseased womb to save the mother, even though the child is thus indirectly deprived of life.

Gianna at once pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child. During the next seven months she forced herself to keep busy with her various duties, meanwhile praying as never before that God would preserve the little one. She added a special prayer that the child itself would suffer no pain from the malignancy.

more…


#4

A few days before the birth was due, Gianna told her doctors, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate; choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.”

The baby, Gianna Emanuela Molla, was born in good health on April 21, 1962. But despite every effort to save Dr. Molla, who bore her unspeakable pain in constant prayer, she died on April 28. A sad end, but a glorious one: Is not mother love essentially a vocation of self-giving?

At the beatification ceremony, the Holy Father greeted and blessed at his throne those whom the heroic pediatrician had left behind in God’s good hands: her husband Pietro, one of their older children, and Gianna Emanuela Molla, just turned 22. The pope blessed the young woman, but Gianna Molla knew she had already been blessed from conception by the hand of God.

– Father Robert F. McNamara


#5

Yes, I had heard about St. Gianna Molla, but her story is not quite a matyrdom - though a heroine she is indeed. But either choice she made would have been morally licit. She chose to die for her child’s sake, not necessesarily for her faith although her deep faith may have been instrumental.

Plus, at the time of conception she was not aware of any health maladies.

I’m think more specifically, if a woman is known to have a health problem, but refuses to use contraception, and dies on account of it - could that be martyrdom?


#6

That is an interesting question…because she would have had another choice…and that choice would have been to refrain from having sexual relations. She could have remained true to her faith, not practiced contraception and not died…so I don’t know…it is an interesting moral question though and one that might be best posed in the Moral Theology board or to Father Serpa…I sure don’t have an answer…:hmmm:


#7

LSK,

I’m not so sure she would necessarily have a choice about not having relations. She couldn’t simply decide these things unilaterally. Which would again amplify the martyrdom aspect.

I suppose this would mean that the woman would have had to becom aware of the health problem after marriage, but before conception. Picky-picky.


#8

[quote=Black Jaque]LSK,

I’m not so sure she would necessarily have a choice about not having relations. She couldn’t simply decide these things unilaterally. Which would again amplify the martyrdom aspect.

I suppose this would mean that the woman would have had to becom aware of the health problem after marriage, but before conception. Picky-picky.
[/quote]

That’s true…I mean, if she became of the health problems after marriage then she would, I would think, have an obligation to share that problem with her husband. He would then have to decide if he wanted to remain married to someone who could not have children.

You’re right…this could become really difficult…because if he demanded that she submit, then it would throw it into a different arena…oh, wow…this would be a sticky wicket…so to speak.


#9

That’s true…I mean, if she became of the health problems after marriage then she would, I would think, have an obligation to share that problem with her husband. He would then have to decide if he wanted to remain married to someone who could not have children.

Sorry Charlie but just because you find out your spouse has fertility problems doesn’t present you with a decision to remain married.

It is possible that, faced with her health problems the couple could choose to use NFP to avoid pregnancy - but then one evening the wine was just so good, and the fire was warm. . .

You’re right…this could become really difficult…because if he demanded that she submit, then it would throw it into a different arena…oh, wow…this would be a sticky wicket…so to speak

Well I suppose if he demanded her submission and she did, then this could expedite the grounds for martyrdom. At least it seems so.

Basically the woman knows that submitting to the act could be fatal, yet, she also knows that rejecting her husband is contrary to her faith, and ABC is also contrary to her faith.

There are a number of women in almost precisely this situation.


#10

[quote=Black Jaque]I wonder if the Church would consider a woman who dies as a result of pregnancy as a martyr. Especially if the woman knew that pregnancy could be fatal because of some pre-existing medical problem, and refused contraception despite todays acceptance and availability.

It would seem that she died “for her faith”, though not in the typical sense.

If the Church were to pronounce this as a path to martyrdom, this might be a powerful weapon against the culture of death.
[/quote]

The definition of martyrdom is not as broad as this. It consists essentially of dying FOR the doctrine of faith, at the hands of those who do NOT have the faith. (eg. A pagan tells you to renounce Christ or die, and you say you will not, and then he kills you)

Even St Joan of Arc is not a martyr, though burned at the stake for her faith, since the killers were themselves catholics, though they did not believe her testimony. You want to be careful about assigning martyrdom, as the Church is herself very careful about it. One can be a saint without being a martyr, like St. Gianna. There is no shame in being a regular saint!


#11

#12

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