“By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 1505

Redemptive suffering is the Church teaching that human suffering can be accepted and offered up in union with Christ’s Passion to remit the punishment of sins.

The victim soul is chosen by God to participate in this suffering more than most people during their life. 

The basis for the victim soul is first seen in Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” – Colossians 1:24

Pope Saint John Paul II also spoke of redemptive suffering and the pious tradition of the victim soul in his apostolic letter Salvifici doloris.

“The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

The Church doesn’t not formally declare any person to be a victim soul: the tradition stems from those observed to undergo a form of redemptive suffering. As a matter of private revelation, claims of being a victim soul aren’t required to be believed, either.

Some famous examples of alleged victim souls are:

    • Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart (1863 – 1899), the 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”.
    • Saint Gemma Galgani (1878 – April 11, 1903), who 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.”
    • Blessed Alexandrina of Balazar (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.”
    • 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.
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