Thursday, May 17, 2012

Did Saint Brigid Perform An Abortion?

The early writer Cogitosus seems to say so in his Life of Saint Brigid (650 AD):
With a strength of faith most powerful and ineffable, she (Brigit) blessed a woman who, after a vow of virginity, had lapsed through weakness into youthful concupisence, as a result of which her womb began to swell with pregnancy. In consequence, what had been conceived in the womb disappeared, and she restored her to health and to penitence without childbirth or pain.
I don't actually think that this medical procedure has clinically demonstrable efficacy, but it's a reminder that for a long time, stopping abortion didn't loom as large as it does now on the list of Christian priorities.  


Anonymous said...

There's at least one other medieval story (12th century, in this case) of the miraculous disappearance of a pregnancy in Aelred of Rievaulx's account of the Nun of Watton.

Warning: the whole thing's pretty messed up.


Neil Sinhababu said...


Hector said...

Well, there are plenty of canonized saints (John Chrysostom, most prominently) who preached the forcible conversion of Jews, so I guess that makes the forcible of Jews admirable as well. In reality, of course, that's silly. The canonization of a saint is based on evidence that they're in heaven, and on the overall tenor of their life. It certainly isn't meant to imply that every action in their life is good and worthy of emulation. There are plenty of murderers in the communion of saints, after all.

In reality, the claim 'abortion hasn. Christianity emerged into a world in which abortion and infanticide were commonly practiced, and one of the things that set Christians radically apart from most of their neighbours, was the unequivocal and harsh condemnation of abortion, which from the very beginning was equated with homicide. (Christians shared their condemnation of abortion with first century Jews and with, I think, the Zoroastrians of Persia, but decidedly not with pagan Greeks or Romans). The radical moral claim that every human life, even in the womb, was worthy of protection was one of the things that characterized and set apart the Christian Faith, and to redefine Christianity so that it's compatible with abortion rights is to strip it of its very essence. The truth that abortion is homicide has been pronounced repeatedly, from the very beginnings of Christianity, with infallible authority, and it really can't be argued with.