In her new book, American author Dawn Eden helps bring healing to victims of childhood sexual abuse while clearing up common misconceptions surrounding the sainthood of the chastity martyrs, reports the Catholic News Agency.
“It's our duty as members of the faithful to really seek out truth about what the Church teaches and to correct inaccuracies when they arise on this,” Eden says.
Although she found peace within the Catholic Church after her conversion from Judaism, Eden faced “despair” when she first learned about St Maria Goretti, a 19th-century Italian girl who was stabbed to death while fighting off an attempted sexual assault.
Initially, Eden - who suffered childhood sexual abuse herself - thought that the young girl was a saint simply because she died and was successful in preventing sexual assault from occurring.
“For an abuse victim, that's terribly painful because when the story is presented that way it can give the impression that if you have actually been abused then it means God didn't love you enough to let you be a saint.”
But Eden says she eventually found great solace when she realized that the Church “has always taught that virginity resides in the will to remain a virgin.”
In the case of St Maria Goretti, Eden clarifies in her book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press/$16.95), that Goretti's sainthood comes not from the fact that she “wasn't violated,” but “because she lived a holy life and was always making of herself, body and soul, a gift to God.”
“Because of her recognition that her body was a temple of the Holy Spirit,” Eden said, “she resisted her attacker. But her sanctity came from her will to resist."
After the success of her 2006 book The Thrill of the Chaste, which recounts her conversion to Catholicism and a chaste lifestyle, Eden said she encountered many people who struggled with living chastely due to wounds of childhood sexual abuse.
FULL STORY Eden's new book dispels misconceptions on saints and sex abuse (CNA)