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Catholic Essentials
"Not Believing" is not an Option!

Baptism of Desire, and Baptism of Blood

Baptism of Desire is one of the two possible substitutes for Baptism of water. When it is not possible thus to be baptized, an act of perfect contrition or pure love of God will supply the omission. Such acts are a perfect and ultimate diposition calling for the infusion of sanctifying grace, and at least implicitly include a desire and intention to receive Baptism of water should occasion offer. Infants are not capable of Baptism of desire. An heathen, believing, even though in a confused way, in a God whose will should be done and desiring to do that will whatever it may be, probably has Baptism of desire. It may reasonably be assumed that vast numbers of persons unbaptized by water have thus been rendered capable of enjoying the Beatific Vision.

Baptism of Blood is one of the two possible substitutes for Baptism of water and consists of suffering martyrdom for the Faith or for some Christian virtue, which infuses sanctifying grace into the soul and forgives sin. Martyrdom produces this effect by a special privilege, as being a supreme act of love in imitation of the passion of Our Lord, but the martyr must have had attrition for his sins. Baptism of Blood extends to infants.

(Definitions from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)

References in Scripture:

  • "Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven" Matt 10:32
  • "He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it" Matt 10:39
  • "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." John 14:21
  • "And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise. Luke 23:42-43

Church Teaching on Baptism of Desire:

  • "The sacrament of Baptism is said to be necessary for salvation in so far as man cannot be saved without, at least, Baptism of desire; "which, with God, counts for the deed. (Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 57)" St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Whether a man can be saved without Baptism?
  • "By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Fourth Chapter, A description is introduced of the Justification of the impious, and of the Manner thereof under the law of grace.
  • "baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called "of wind" ["flaminis"] because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Ghost who is called a wind ["flamen"]. Now it is "de fide" that men are also saved by Baptism of desire, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, "de presbytero non baptizato" and of the Council of Trent" St. Alphonsus Ligouri's Moral Theology Manual (15th century), Bk. 6, no. 95., Concerning Baptism
  • "Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. 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." Encyclical On Promotion of False Doctrines (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore) by Pope Pius IX, 1863
  • “Baptism, the door and foundation of the Sacraments, in fact or at least in desire necessary unto salvation for all, is not validly conferred except through the ablution of true and natural water with the prescribed form of words.” (Canon 737)
    “Those who have died without baptism are not to be given ecclesiastical burial. Catechumens who die without baptism through no fault of their own are to be counted among the baptized.” (Canon 1239) 1917 Code of Canon Law
  • "A person outside the Church by his own fault, and who dies without perfect contrition, will not be saved. But he who finds himself outside without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the love called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the Church, that is, to the soul of the Church." Pope St. Pius X, Catechism of Christian Doctrine
  • "17 Q: Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?
    A: The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire." Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Sacraments - Baptism, Necessity of Baptism and Obligations of the Baptized
  • "The Fathers and theologians frequently divide baptism into three kinds: the baptism of water (aquć or fluminis), the baptism of desire (flaminis), and the baptism of blood (sanguinis). However, only the first is a real sacrament. The latter two are denominated baptism only analogically, inasmuch as they supply the principal effect of baptism, namely, the grace which remits sins. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that when the baptism of water becomes a physical or moral impossibility, eternal life may be obtained by the baptism of desire or the baptism of blood" 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism
  • "The efficacy of this baptism of desire to supply the place of the baptism of water, as to its principal effect, is proved from the words of Christ. After He had declared the necessity of baptism (John, iii), He promised justifying grace for acts of charity or perfect contrition (John, xiv): "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." And again: "If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him." Since these texts declare that justifying grace is bestowed on account of acts of perfect charity or contrition, it is evident that these acts supply the place of baptism as to its principal effect, the remission of sins" 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism, Baptism of Desire
  • "The same doctrine is taught by Pope Innocent III (cap. Debitum, iv, De Bapt.), and the contrary propositions are condemned by Popes Pius V and Gregory XII, in proscribing the 31st and 33rd propositions of Baius." 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism, Baptism of Desire
  • "We have already alluded to the funeral oration pronounced by St. Ambrose over the Emperor Valentinian II, a catechumen. The doctrine of the baptism of desire is here clearly set forth. St. Ambrose asks: "Did he not obtain the grace which he desired? Did he not obtain what he asked for? Certainly he obtained it because he asked for it." St. Augustine (IV, De Bapt., xxii) and St. Bernard (Ep. Ixxvii, ad H. de S. Victore) likewise discourse in the same sense concerning the baptism of desire." 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism, Baptism of Desire

Church Teaching, specifically
on Baptism of Blood:

  • St. Cyprian (Ep. Ixxiii) speaks of "the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood" (sanguinis baptismus). St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, XIII, vii) says: "When any die for the confession of Christ without having received the washing of regeneration, it avails as much for the remission of their sins as if they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism." 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism, Baptism of Blood
  • "Another evidence of the mind of the Church as to the efficacy of the baptism of blood is found in the fact that she never prays for martyrs. Her opinion is well voiced by St. Augustine (Tr. lxxiv in Joan.): "He does an injury to a martyr who prays for him." This shows that martyrdom is believed to remit all sin and all punishment due to sin. Later theologians commonly maintain that the baptism of blood justifies adult martyrs independently of an act of charity or perfect contrition, and, as it were, ex opere operato, though, of course, they must have attrition for past sins" 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Baptism, Baptism of Blood
  • Q. 651. What is Baptism of blood?
    A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of one's blood for the faith of Christ.
    Q. 653. Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to produce the effects of Baptism of water?
    A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water. Baltimore Catechism
  • Other Saints in history of the Church who have openly written about Baptism of Blood: Cyprian Epistle LXXII (third century), Church Father Cyprian (Treatise I and Epistle I to Donatus) (third century), Church Father Tertullian (Enchiridion Patristicum under "de baptisme" (third century), St Cyril writes of Baptism of Blood (fourth century), St. Gregory Nazianzen writes of Baptism of Blood (fourth century), St. John Chrystostome writes of Baptism of Blood (fourth century), St. Catherine of Sienna openly writes about Baptism of Blood (fourteenth century)


The ordinary magisterium of the Church has openly taught the three-fold Baptism (water, desire and blood) since the earliest days of the Church, and never has this teaching ever been condemned by the Catholic Church throughout the entire history of the Church.

The First Vatican Council commands that all Catholics must believe what the ordinary magisterium of the Church teaches, therefore no Catholic can deny the doctrines Baptism of Desire, or Baptism of Blood.



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