Tag Archives: Conception

St. Gregory of Nyssa: There is no question about that which is bred in the uterus . . .

Icon of St. Gregory of Nyssa“There is no question about that which is bred in the uterus, both growing, and moving from place to place. It remains, therefore, that we must think that the point of commencement of existence is one and the same for body and soul.”

— St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Augustine: . . . At what time the infant begins to live in the womb . . .

Icon of St. Augustine of Hippo“And therefore the following question may be very carefully inquired into and discussed by learned men, though I do not know whether it is in man’s power to resolve it: At what time the infant begins to live in the womb: whether life exists in a latent form before it manifests itself in the motions of the living being. To deny that the young who are cut out limb by limb from the womb, lest if they were left there dead the mother should die too, have never been alive, seems too audacious. Now, from the time that a man begins to live, from that time it is possible for him to die. And if he die, wheresoever death may overtake him, I cannot discover on what principle he can be denied an interest in the resurrection of the dead.”

St. Augustine, Enchiridion 23.86

St. Jerome: You may see many women widows before wedded . . .

Icon of St. Jerome“You may see many women widows before wedded, who try to conceal their miserable fall by a lying garb. Unless they are betrayed by swelling wombs or by the crying of their infants, they walk abroad with tripping feet and heads in the air. Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder.”

— St. Jerome, Epistula 22

St. Basil the Great: The woman who purposely destroys . . .

Icon of St. Basil the GreatThe woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice inquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.”

— St. Basil the Great, Letter 188:2 or First Canonical Letter, Canon 2