Question on Baptism of Blood?

Is Baptism of Blood ruled out by Pope Eugene IV’s Papal Bull “Cantate Domino”? In a discussion with a Catholic on “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus”, he argued that the teaching in the document destroys the idea of Baptism of Blood and that its “irrefutable”.

Pope Eugene IV Cantate Domino: “It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will DEPART “INTO EVERLASTING FIRE which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if HE HAS SHED BLOOD FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

How would us Catholics who hold to BOB respond to this? This is an ex cathedra statement no?

Pope Eugene is simply not talking about Baptism of Blood. In such an event, the grace which has moved one to desire Baptism of Water is brought to fruition by another means. One dies within the Church.

Here is some more information:

This doesn’t rule out Baptism of Blood. Here’s how EWTN puts it: “This teaching [of Pope Eugene IV] can be reconciled with baptism of desire and baptism of blood if this teaching is applied to those who give their blood for Christ while rejecting the Catholic faith as opposed to those who intend to enter the Catholic Church but have been killed for this intention before being able to do so. Regardless of such theological points such as baptism of desire and baptism of blood it is clear that those who know the Church exists and refuse to recognize its teaching as true cannot be saved.”

First, Cantate Domino really Is ex cathedra, if my understanding is correct. It seems to use definitional language (“firmly believes, professes, and proclaims”) and meets the other criteria: it is addressed to the whole Church, it is about a matter of faith, and it is written not as a theological opinion but as a decree.

Second, baptism by blood is like baptism by desire in this respect: neither one is an Exception to No Salvation Outside the Church. Baptism by blood doesn’t work just because you got killed in the name of Jesus, you Also have to believe in Catholicism, At Least in an implicit way. Cantate Domino is in part repeating an ancient doctrine: if you get killed by pagans but you’re an obstinate heretic, you don’t get a free pass. Just as dying for Christ won’t save you if you lack true love (1 Cor. 13:3), so also it won’t save you if you lack true faith.

Baptism by blood is not an exception to that. People who get baptism by blood Do believe in Catholicism: they are catechumens. They are in the process of converting. The Church Fathers said they are already united to the Church in a partial way: “as the catechumens have the sign of the cross on their forehead, they are already of the great house; but from servants let them become sons. For they are something who already belong to the great house. But when did the people Israel eat the manna? After they had passed the Red Sea. … [And] Jesus bring[s] over [catechumens] by baptism…[to] the living bread.” (St. Augustine, Tracts on John Tract 11 Paragraph 4)

Catechumens are therefore not outside the Church. They “belong to the great house.” When they are martyred, they are not dying outside the faith, like the people in Cantate Domino. They are dying In the faith, and That’s why they get the benefits of martyrdom.

BTW similar reasoning applies to people in invincible ignorance. The good ones actually Are part of the Church, even though they Appear not to be. St. Gregory Nazianzus supports this: “[A certain pagan] was ours even before he was of our fold. His way of living made him such. For…many of those outside [the Church] belong to us, who by their way of life anticipate the faith, and need [only] the name, having the reality.” (Oration 18:6)

There are two things at work here: there is no salvation outside the Church, and many people who Appear to be outside the Church are actually In it. This includes catechumens and good people who live in invincible ignorance. The Church Fathers said there were even some people in heretical groups who were invincibly ignorant and could thus be saved: “[Men who hold to] doctrine[s] which [are] false and perverse, if they do not maintain [them] with passionate obstinacy…but have accepted [heresies] from [their] parents…if they are with anxiety seeking the truth, and are prepared to be set right when they have found it, such men are not to be counted heretics.” (St. Augustine, Letter 43 Chapter 1)

Third, you might be interested in this link:

Scripture, Church Fathers, and Medieval Doctors on the Possibility of Salvation for Non-Catholics

Fourth, if your friend believes that baptism by blood is a heresy condemned in the 1400s, ask him if he believes Pope St. Pius X was a heretic. St. Pius X believed in baptism by blood: “The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.” (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, On Baptism, Question 17)

And ask him if the Doctor of the Church St. Alphonsus Liguori was a heretic too: “baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called ‘of wind’ because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Ghost who is called a wind. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of desire, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, ‘de presbytero non baptizato’ and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4 where it is said that no one can be saved ‘without the laver of regeneration or the desire for it.’ ” (Moral Theology, Bk. 6, nn. 95-7)

Also, the Council of Trent defined that a non-Catholic who desires to be a Catholic could be saved in certain circumstances. Jimmy Akin points out the relevant passages in this article.

I hope that helps. Please let me know. God bless!

BTW the reason I say to ask your friend about St. Pius X and St. Alphonsus is because it puts your friend in a dilemma. For various reasons, these two saints are typically hero-figures in the minds of the deniers of baptism of blood, and it is little known that they both supported and believed in the doctrine that these people deny. And this was LONG AFTER the supposed definition against baptism of blood took place. If they admit them as saints, then they are essentially saying one of two things: either the alleged definition against baptism of blood wasn’t a dogma, or these people rejected that dogma and became saints anyway. This would imply that you can reject Catholic doctrine and be saved anyway, which is the very position these people want to deny! There are only two ways out of this dilemma. One is to say that these two people weren’t actually saints but heretics, which would be very difficult for these people because they tend to respect these saints. The other way is to admit the truth: baptism of blood was never defined as heresy, they are simply misinterpreting the documents which they think say that.

The church celebrates the 40 little children who died when Herod’s soldiers were searching for the baby Jesus. They are considered martyrs by baptism of blood.

Yea but the Feeneyites would argue that the law of baptism wasn’t established yet. They were still under the OT Law.

Yes, but when Jesus died, he went to limbo to preach to those people in the OT who where good people. He announced to them the good news, that heaven was now available, which was also announced to the 40 innocents.

“Bring us back, O God of hosts: let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.”
Psalm 79

Every human person who loves their neighbor, truly and selflessly, is in the state of grace and is a child of God by spiritual adoption, whether they enter the state of grace by a baptism of water, desire, or blood.

The condemnation of persons formally outside the Church only implies loss of salvation if the persons are guilty to the extent of actual mortal sin. So invincible ignorance would still permit the possibility of salvation.

My opinion is that all prenatals, infants, and young children, who die at that young age without formal baptism, receive a baptism of blood and so they go to Heaven. Some person argue for a narrow interpretation of the baptism of blood and/or the baptism of desire. But I believe that these forms of baptism are broad.

He’s not talking about the “baptism of blood” (i.e., martyrdom). He’s talking about having served in the military in a holy cause (e.g., Crusades).

Re-read what you quoted: if the person died a martyr’s death, how would he possibly not remain “in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church” following his “baptism of blood”? It’s impossible; it’s nonsensical.

Conversely, if he’s talking about prior military service, then the sentence makes sense: no subsequent almsgiving trumps the danger incurred by leaving the Church.

The idea of the baptisms of blood and desire is far older than Cantate Domino, so I would think the latter should be read in the light of the earlier belief, rather than the earlier belief being overthrown by a later declaration that doesn’t really seem to be “about” contradicting that possibility,

You have to imagine the thinking in the early Church going like this:

“All right, catechumens, after your instruction you’ll be baptized, at which time your sins will be washed away and you’ll be fit for Heaven provided you remain in God’s grace!”


“Oh no! Catechumen Carolus was killed in the persecution, and he hadn’t been baptized yet! Is he doomed to Hell purely by timing of his death, even though he died professing the name of Our Lord?”

“Hmm … I think surely the Lord would take into account Carolus’ plan to be baptized as soon as he was ready, together with his martyr’s death. It is as though he was baptized in his own shed blood!”

still later

“Oh no! Catechumen Christopher got sick and died, and he hadn’t been baptized yet! Though we know he trusted God in his final illness, we can hardly call him a martyr for Christ. Dare we hope he went to Heaven?”

“Hmm … even though Christopher doesn’t wear the martyr’s crown, he, too, would have been baptized had sickness not taken him early. I would say that God surely supplies the grace of the sacrament to one who wills to receive it but cannot due to circumstances.”

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