What is required?
Dawn Eden has an excellent comment regarding the issue of virgin martyrs who may have been violated before actual death. Very few Catholics seem to know about this stuff, much less understand it. This is what Dawn has to say about it:
What is required for a saint to qualify as a virgin saint?
Bottom line: St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas taught that virgins who are raped do not forfeit their virginity. What is more, according to Aquinas, a holy virgin who is raped not only retains her virginity; she receives a second crown in heaven for having endured the outrage of being violated. He adds that she remains a virgin in the eyes of the Church even if her rape results in her bearing a child.
That is the doctrine of our glorious Church, and more people need to be made aware of it. There are a lot of Catholics out there who are hurting because they suffered sexual abuse and are under the misapprehension that the Church perceives them as being stained by what was done to them against their will. It is my hope that my upcoming book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints will dispel such myths and help victims find the healing that is available only in and through Christ in His Church. - Dawn Patrol
It was Fr. Z who originally posted on the topic and received some interesting comments, most interesting and informative of all however, is Dawn Eden's good response reprinted here:
When I researched this question for my upcoming book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, I found that much of what Catholics believe the Church teaches on this matter–such as that rape is somehow voluntary if a woman is violated–is completely erroneous.
The actual teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church is that the measure of whether a holy virgin who is raped qualifies as a virgin martyr (also known as a martyr of chastity) is not whether she was violated, but whether she resisted.
As Father Z would say, full stop.
Exhibit A: St. Augustine, City of God, Book I, Chapter 18. The chapter is titled “Of the Violence Which May Be Done to the Body by Another’s Lust, While the Mind Remains Inviolate.” That should tell you something right there. Augustine, writing about the virgin martyrs of the early Church, lashes out at pagans who claim that virgins who had been violated were no longer virgins: “What sane man can suppose that, if his body be seized and forcibly made use of to satisfy the lust of another, he thereby loses his purity?”
Exhibit B: In the Acts of the third-century martyr St. Lucy (which were first quoted by St. Aldhelm in the seventh century, but were probably written much earlier), when a Roman consul threatens St. Lucy with rape unless she recants her Christian faith, she replies, “If you cause me to be violated against my will, my chastity will receive a double crown.”
Exhibit C: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, q. 96, a. 5, ad 4.
Quoting the Acts of St. Lucy, Aquinas writes that a virgin martyr who was raped will receive a double reward in heaven—“one for observing virginity, the other for the outrage she has suffered.” He adds that “[even] supposing that one thus violated should conceive, she would not for that reason forfeit her virginity.”
In researching My Peace I Give You, I was told by a senior investigator of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in no uncertain terms, that the teaching of St. Augustine still stands.
It is a terrible loss for all Catholics that victims of rape are being told that, because saints like Maria Goretti were not violated, they themselves are somehow considered by the Church to have stained themselves by “letting” themselves be raped. We, as a Church, need to get our message in line with our own Fathers and Doctors if we are to begin to address the sexual abuse crisis in the culture at large, which the media is only beginning to acknowledge in the wake of the Penn State outrage.
Please say a prayer, as you read this, for anyone reading this who is a sexual-abuse survivor. Every Catholic bears a personal responsibility to show them, and all who have suffered injustice, the way to the healing that can be found only in Christ in His Church. Ave crux, spes unica.
Though your sins be as scarlet...
Finally, for those who may have lost their virginity, always remember, "the blood of Jesus makes fallen souls virginal." The holy Archbishop Luis M. Martinez wrote that someplace, and I have never forgotten it.