World History Christian Saints Who Went To Extraordinary Lengths To Stay Chaste  

Phil Gibbons
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Because chastity is a cornerstone of Christian faith and devotion, it is appropriate that some of the most celebrated figures in the Christian canon are individuals who went to great lengths to maintain their faith in the face of lust, immorality, and sin. As such, the things saints did to avoid temptation - especially the ways they avoided temptations of the sexual variety - have become shining examples of faith, devotion, and piety, examples to which all good Christians should aspire.

However, since most of the saints have dubious historical origins, much of what they purportedly did (or did not do) must be taken on faith, as well. Even if some of the following individuals never existed, they live on for true believers as aspirations and ideals.  

St. Benedict Destroyed His Genitals In A Thorny Bush

St. Benedict Destroyed His Gen... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Christian Saints Who Went To Extraordinary Lengths To Stay Chaste
Photo: Georges Jansoone/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

St. Benedict is best known for his strict rules governing the lives of monks who became part of the order he founded: the Benedictines. An ancient biography composed by Pope Gregory recounts how he rejected the temptation of the flesh. Spoiler: he did it with a little help from his friend, God.

For, "just as soon as [Benedict] had been nearly overcome with passion, God intervened. Assisted with God’s grace, he came to himself; and seeing many thick briers and nettle bushes to grow hard by, off he cast his apparel, and threw himself into the midst of them, and there wallowed so long that, when he rose up, all his flesh was pitifully torn: and so by the wounds of his body, he cured the wounds of his soul, in that he turned pleasure into pain."

Yes; you read that right. Benedict overcame womanly temptation by stripping off his clothes and thrashing around in a brier patch until his skin was torn off. A true inspiration.

St. Thomas Aquinas Chased A Prostitute With Fire And Crosses

St. Thomas Aquinas Chased A Pr... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Christian Saints Who Went To Extraordinary Lengths To Stay Chaste
Photo: Carlo Crivelli/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The noble family of St. Thomas Aquinas became upset when he decided to switch from the Benedictine order to the Dominican order of monks. The Dominicans were beggars who preached in the streets and survived on the meager contributions of the public. In order to dissuade him from this choice, his family first kidnapped him and locked him in seclusion. However, when he adapted to the situation by using it as an opportunity for writing and reflection, they resorted to more extreme measures.

They procured a prostitute and placed her in his cell, presuming he would be tempted out of both lust and loneliness to indulge in carnal excess. Instead, like the good saint-to-be he was, Aquinas reached into the fire, withdrew a still burning log, and chased her out of his proximity. He then drew a crucifix shaped cross on his door and was subsequently comforted by two angels, who placed an angelic girdle around his waist. Lust was driven out of his mind for the remainder of his mortal days.  

St. Agatha Had Her Breasts Cut Off When She Wouldn't Give In

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Photo: Francesco Furini/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

St. Agatha grew up in Sicily, a young and eligible 15-year-old maiden from a prominent family. As a result of her age, eligibility, and social standing, she was besieged by numerous suitors, many of whom were intent on carnally despoiling her. Instead, she dedicated her virginity to God, a declaration that brought her to the attention of a Roman prefect named Quintianus, who she also rejected. Rather than take this rejection lying down, however, Quintianus decided to persecute Agatha for her Christian faith, ordering her to a brothel.

After refusing to comply with the brothel keeper's demands, she was remanded back to Quintianus, who then imprisoned her. In jail, she was tortured horribly, including having her breasts amputated by iron pincers. Eventually, after refusing to submit in the face of repeated assault, her spiritual devotion was punished with a sentence of death by fire. She was spared by a timely earthquake, but ultimately perished in prison, her faith unshaken to the end.

St. Agatha is the patron saint of breast cancer patients and torture victims. 

St. Agnes Was Saved From Violation Through Divine Intervention

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

St. Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility in the fourth century CE, a time when being a Christian in Rome was punishable by law. Alluringly beautiful even from a young age, Agnes was besieged by many wealthy suitors who unsuccessfully sought her hand in marriage. However, she was eventually betrayed to the Roman hierarchy as a Christian and brought up before a judge named Sempronius. This judge condemned the 12 year old to be dragged through the streets to a brothel where she was to be repeatedly violated.

Instead, through divine intervention, Agnes was spared when her attackers were struck blind. The authorities then tied her to a stake but again were thwarted when the wood surrounding her pyre would not ignite. Onlookers begged her to recant her faith and save herself. Claiming to have wed Christ instead of any of her suitors she happily replied: "I would offend my Spouse, if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!" Then she prayed and bowed her head as a centurion beheaded her. 

For her piety and sacrifice, she is the patron saint of chastity.