Why are there no baby saints?

The newly-recognized Pope Saint John Paul II was a canonizing cannon during his earthly tenure. A quick look to Wikipedia reveals at least 362 (I might have miscounted) saints ordained by our Polish friend. That’s a lot of dead people performing “verified miracles” on behalf of sick Catholics. In fact, it’s a world record. No one has ever canonized that many saints either before or after Pope Saint John Paul II. But throughout the complete list of saints recognized by the Catholic church, only one of these dead miracle workers (as far as I can tell) was younger than the age of reason. And she’s not a full-fledged saint. So why are there no baby saints?

The problem, some might argue, is that it is unclear whether or not dead babies — especially unbaptized babies — go to heaven. We can look to the Blessed Pope Pius IX for some guidance (paragraph 7):

Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

In this quote the Pope clearly states that those without “deliberate sin” are exempt from hell. In other words, we can rule out one hell for babies because they are too young to commit “deliberate sin.” Original sin is automatically forgiven, I suppose. Then we can look to this:

God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

This catechism reveals that the Catholic church believes that although god requires baptism in order to be saved, he is not bound to necessarily damn any non-baptised people. Unbaptized dead babies (and their aborted brothers and sisters, by extension) are at the very least sent to limbo. But this catechism also leaves open the possibility that god can do anything he wants, including taking the souls of dead, unbaptized babies to heaven.

Then there is 2 Samuel 12:23, in which David, lamenting the death of his infant son, says,

But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.

In other words, David believed he would be joining his deceased child in heaven.

The Catholic church greatly stresses the importance of baptizing your children in case they die before reaching the age of reason, just to be on the safe side. It should follow that if a saved infant dies, it should immediately get a free ride to heaven, where it will be given the same opportunity to conduct miracles on earth as the newly sainted John Paul II. With the number of Catholic babies that have died, it would not be a stretch for the Vatican to say, “there are some baby saints.”

But this is not what we see. All modern saints have relics and performed “good” deeds while alive. Babies don’t usually go around doing good deeds. So it’s almost like the canonization process is based on living works rather than strictly “miracles.” The baby is prematurely robbed of life, only to find it robbed of recognition in death.

One last thing. If, as was claimed by some above, unbaptized babies indeed go to heaven, why are there no aborted baby saints? Maybe it’s because that would read more like an endorsement for the pro-choice movement.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
This entry was posted in Atheism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why are there no baby saints?

  1. As you stated in your post, sainthood can only be bestowed on people who have lived lives of service to mankind.

    People who die as babies may be holy, but it is impossible for them to be saints since they have not yet had the opportunity to freely give themselves in service to mankind.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      So do babies go to heaven as babies? They are incapable of performing miracles?

      • Zehn,

        I have no idea about heaven.

        What I truly understand about life has come through insight and so far I’ve had no insight concerning either babies or heaven.

        I can, however learn Catholic doctrine from books and authorized learned men. But knowledge attained through reason though beneficial, is not insight.

  2. Pingback: Why are there no baby saints? | Christians Anonymous

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