An example of how the baptism of blood advocates err in this matter is their assertion that the fortieth martyr of Sebaste was unbaptized. They say that he was unbaptized, but that he joined himself with the other thirty-nine martyrs and froze to death for Christ on the lake. The fact is that there is no proof that the fortieth martyr of Sebaste was unbaptized, whose identity is unknown. The accounts of the story reveal that he “cried out with a loud voice that he was a Christian,” probably because he was already a baptized Catholic who was spurred on to martyrdom by the example of the other thirty-nine. Further, in the Roman Martyrology under the date of September 9, we read:
“At Sebaste in Armenia, St. Severian, a soldier of Emperor Licinius. For frequently visiting the Forty Martyrs in prison, he was suspended in the air with a stone tied to his feet by order of the governor Lysias…”
It is certain that Severian was not the fortieth martyr (from the date and circumstances of his death), but we see from this account that other people and soldiers were able to visit the forty in prison. Thus, the forty martyrs easily could have baptized any soldiers who showed interest and sympathy with their cause, including the one who joined himself to them eventually (if he wasn’t already baptized). Thus, there is nothing that proves that the fortieth martyr was unbaptized, and we know that he was from the truth of our Faith. The same can be said about all of the approximately 20 cases which are brought forward by the baptism of blood advocates.
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.”
I will quote verbatim from Brother Robert Mary, in Father Feeney and The Truth About Salvation (pp. 173-175), who clears up some of the confusion which swirls around this topic:
“We will now examine the historical evidence put forth by those who claim that ‘baptism of blood’ is a substitute for, even superior to, the sacrament of baptism. This evidence is found in the many writings that have been handed down to us over the centuries as recorded in various martyrologies, acts of the martyrs, lives of the saints and similar sources. The most concise information on martyrs is found in martyrologies.
“The present Roman Martyrology is a catalogue of saints honored by the Church, not only those martyred for the Faith. It first appeared in 1584, and was derived from ancient martyrologies that existed in the fourth century, plus official and non-official records taken from acts of the martyrs that date back to the second century. It has been revised several times since its first compilation. When he was assigned to revise the ancient accounts, Saint Robert Bellarmine himself had to be restrained from overly skeptical editorial deletions.
“First, it was not the intent of those who first reported the circumstances of the deaths of the martyrs to provide information from which ‘baptismal registers’ could later be compiled. If the chronicler makes no mention of the martyr’s Baptism, it does not necessarily mean that he was never baptized. A case in point is Saint Patrick. He was not a martyr, but his Baptism was never recorded. Yet, we know positively that he received the sacrament since he was a bishop.
“Next, even if a chronicler states positively that a martyr had not been baptized, it should be understood to mean that he was ‘not recorded’ as having been baptized. In those times especially, no person could hope to know with certainty that another had not been baptized.
“Third, if a chronicler says that a martyr was ‘baptized in his own blood’, this does not automatically preclude (rule out) prior reception of the sacrament by water. When Christ referred to His coming Passion as a ‘Baptism’, He had already been baptized by Saint John in the Jordan.
“Fourth, ‘baptism of blood’ should be understood as the greatest act of love of God that a man can make. God rewards it with direct entrance into heaven for those who are already baptized and in the Church: no purgatory --- it is a perfect confession. If it were capable of substituting for any sacrament, it would be the sacrament of Penance, because Penance does not oblige with a necessity of means, but precept only.
“In his book Church History, Father John Laux, M. A., writes:
‘If he [the Christian] was destined to lose his life, he had been taught that martyrdom was a second Baptism, which washed away every stain, and that the soul of the martyr was secure in immediate admission to the perfect happiness of heaven.’
“Fifth, when a martyr is referred to as a ‘catechumen,’ it does not always mean he was not yet baptized. A catechumen was a person learning the Faith, as a student in a class called a catechumenate, under a teacher called a catechist. That students continued in their class even after they were baptized is confirmed conclusively by these words of Saint Ambrose to his catechumens: “I know very well that many things still have to be explained. It may strike you as strange that you were not given a complete teaching on the sacraments before you were baptized. However, the ancient discipline of the Church forbids us to reveal the Christian mysteries to the uninitiated. For the full meaning of the sacraments cannot be grasped without the light which they themselves shed in your hearts.” (On the Mysteries and On the Sacraments, Saint Ambrose)
Whereas the unbaptized were never considered part of the faithful until they were baptized (they were always required to leave before the Mass of the Faithful), Bro. Robert Mary is pointing out that some recently baptized persons, who were still undergoing instruction, were occasionally referred to as “catechumens.”
Pope St. Sylvester I, First Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D., Can. 2: “For a catechumen needs time and further probation after baptism...”
In Tradition, the Church did not reveal certain things except to the initiated (the baptized). So, after a person was baptized he or she frequently continued catechetical instruction, and was therefore sometimes referred to as a “catechumen.” The fact that there is a distinction between unbaptized catechumens and baptized catechumens is implicit in the following quotation from the Council of Braga in 572.
Council of Braga, 572, Canon xvii: “Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to be employed for catechumens who have died without baptism.”
If those described as “catechumens” were always unbaptized, then there would be no need for the council to say that no chanting or sacrifice is to be employed for catechumens “who have died without baptism.” Therefore, the fact that the Roman Martyrology describes a few saints as “catechumens,” such as St. Emerentiana, does not prove that they were unbaptized, even though the term “catechumen” usually means unbaptized. Besides, the Roman Martyrology is not infallible and contains historical errors.
Donald Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary, p. 310: “An historical statement in the ‘Martyrology’ as such has no authority… A number of entries in the Roman Martyrology are found to be unsatisfactory when so tested.”
Concerning the Roman Breviary, Dom Prosper Guéranger, one of the most celebrated liturgists in Church history, seems to correct certain errors in the Roman Breviary:
Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 8 (Sts. Tiburtius, etc.), p. 315: “The solemnity of November 22, formerly preceded by a vigil, is marked in the Roman breviary as the day of her [St. Cecilia’s] martyrdom; it is, in reality, the anniversary of her magnificent basilica in Rome.”
Further, we will see in the section on St. Gregory Nazianz (pp. 76-77) that if one applies the teaching of the Breviary on theological matters as infallible, then he must reject baptism of desire. I continue with the quotation from Bro. Robert Mary:
“Sixth, in those days, a formal Baptism was a very impressive ceremony conducted by the bishop. However, the Church has always taught that, in case of necessity, any person of either sex who has reached the use of reason, Catholic or non-Catholic, may baptize by using the correct words and intending to do what the Church intends to be done by the sacrament. Therefore, in the early Church, baptized Christians and unbaptized catechumens were instructed to administer the sacrament to each other, if and as needed, whenever persecutions broke out.
“Seventh, salvation was made possible for us when, on the Cross on Calvary, Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed His Sacred Body and Blood in atonement for our sins. Hence, a man is saved, not by sacrificing his own human blood, but by the sacrifice of the Most Precious Divine Blood of Our Holy Savior.
“Let us put it another way: In our opinion, the absolutely certain remission of original sin and incorporation into Christ and His Church are accomplished only by the water to which, alone, Christ has given that power. A man’s blood has no such power. Martyrdom is the greatest act of love of God a man can make, but it cannot substitute for the sacrament of baptism.” - end of quotation
There is no need to examine in detail all of the fewer than 20 individual cases of saints’ martyrdoms (out of thousands) which some have said occurred without baptism. For instance, in the case of St. Emerentiana – who was martyred while praying publicly at the tomb of St. Agnes during the persecution of Diocletian – one could point out that the account of her martyrdom provides a situation that, in itself, suggests she was already baptized; for she wouldn’t have endangered herself in that fashion during the persecution had she not been baptized. Or even if she wasn’t baptized before she was attacked (which is highly unlikely), she certainly could have been baptized after the attack by her mother who accompanied her (according to accounts) to the tomb to pray.
There are so many stories which give a drastically different impression and hold a different meaning if just one small detail is omitted. Take, for instance, the case of St. Venantius. At 15 years of age, St. Venantius was taken before the governor during the persecution of the Emperor Decius:
“One of the officials, Anastasius by name, having noticed the courage wherewith he [St. Venantius] suffered his torments, and having also seen an angel in a white robe walking above the smoke, and again liberating Venantius, believed in Christ, and together with his family was baptized by the priest Porphyrius, with whom he afterwards merited to receive the palm of martyrdom.”
This interesting story shows us, once again, how God gets baptism to all His elect, but notice how easily it could have been misunderstood if one simple detail had been omitted. If the single point about how Anastasius and his family were baptized by Porphyrius had been omitted, the reader would almost certainly get the impression that Anastasius was a martyr for Christ who never received baptism – receiving instead “baptism of blood.”
The fact is that there is no need to go through all of these few cases and show that: 1) there is no proof that the saint (whom they claim was unbaptized) wasn’t baptized; and 2) there are many explanations for how the saint could have been and was baptized. All that is necessary to disprove the claim that there are unbaptized saints is to show that the Church has infallibly taught that no one can get to heaven without being born again of water and the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Canon 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
However, one alleged case of “baptism of blood” is particularly interesting.
 The Roman Martyrology, Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, p. 203 (Sept. 9).
 Denzinger 696; Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 542.
 Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 6.
 The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Baptism,” Volume 2, 1907, p. 265.
 Donald Attwater, A Catholic Dictionary, Tan Books, 1997, p. 310.
 Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Loreto Publications, 2000, Vol. 8, p. 315.
 Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 8, p. 521.
 Denzinger 861; Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 2, p. 685.
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