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Victim soul

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Title: Victim soul  
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Subject: Gemma Galgani
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Victim soul

In the Roman Catholic spiritual tradition, a victim soul is a person chosen by God to suffer more than most people during life, and who generously accepts the suffering, based on the example of Christ's own Passion.[1]

A notable and well known exposition of the tradition of victim soul appears in the autobiography of saint Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul.[2] The concept of a victim soul is inherent in Therese's approach to spirituality. In this view, the victim soul is a chosen one whose suffering is mysteriously joined with the redemptive suffering of Christ and is used for the redemption of others.[2]

Examples of victim souls are:

  • Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart (1863 – 1899): the noble countess Droste zu Vischering and Mother Superior of the Convent of Good Shepherd Sisters in Porto, Portugal, wrote in her autobiography "I offered myself to God as a victim for the sanctification of priests" and added "I know that the Lord has accepted my suffering".[3]
  • Saint Gemma Galgani (1878 – April 11, 1903): wrote in her autobiography how Jesus told her "I need souls who, by their sufferings, trials and sacrifices, make amends for sinners and for their ingratitude."[4]
  • Maria Valtorta (1897 – 1961): whose spiritual life was influenced by reading the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, as well as the life of Saint John Mary Vianney and the age of 28, before becoming bedridden, she offered herself to God as a victim soul.[1][5][6] She later became bedridden for 28 years and reported visions of Jesus and Mary.[1]
  • Blessed Alexandrina of Balasar (1904 – 1955): whose Vatican biography states that she saw her vocation in life to invite others to conversion, and to "offer a living witness of Christ's passion, contributing to the redemption of humanity."[7]
  • Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905 – 1938): who wrote in her diary that Christ had chosen her to be a "victim offering," a role that she voluntarily accepted.[8]

Although the notion of a scapegoat has been present within Judeo-Christian teachings for long, the Catholic concept of a victim soul is distinct and different from it, in that in this case the victim soul willingly offers the suffering to God, unlike the unwitting scapegoat scenario.[1]


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