Saints Adam and Eve
Saints Adam and Eve, Parents of Mankind
Saints Adam and Eve are two of the most interesting Saints found in Catholic tradition. When talking about them, there is a lot that can be said. In Catholic theology the historicity of these two Saints is hotly debated, and so the controversy must be recognized.
Here is what the Catholic Church, in her wisdom, has bound the faithful to believe about the historical Adam and Eve:
1) Adam and Eve were real human beings
2) Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin, the stain of which still affects humanity today and which we know is washed away through Baptism
3) Adam and Eve were the first man and woman created
The rest of the Genesis account is the subject of a huge controversy in the Church today. Genesis is one of the most complex, and important, books in the entire Bible. Thus, it is very important to ascertain what, exactly, the early Genesis stories are supposed to teach us of mankind. The Fall of mankind teaches us of several important Spiritual truths (and they are TRUTHS), namely:
-Human beings occupy a special place in the eyes of God, and were made in His image and likeness
-Human beings are in a fallen state caused by our first parents succumbing to the wiles of the Devil and disobeying God
-Man and woman are meant to be joined in marriage
-A Messiah will one day come and defeat the Devil. This first Messianic prophecy is known as the protoevangelium
So what does this mean about Adam and Eve? We know that they were the first human beings. We could, of course, take the Genesis account completely literally and say that God molded man out of the clay and created woman from the rib of man. But this is not necessary. The POINT of the story is that man was created by God. It is possible that Adam and Eve are the first human beings by nature of their ensoulment; they might have evolved from lower life forms as the theory of evolution posits.
The Garden of Eden is also an interesting idea found in Genesis. Did Adam and Eve live in a literal place known to us as the Garden of Eden? It is possible, but the Garden of Eden could simply be referring to the state of the world before the Fall, where Death did not hold dominion over Creation. The important thing to take out of the account of the Garden of Eden is that man was originally in a world free of death and suffering before Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
None of what I said above is necessarily true; it is possible that the story of Creation found in the Bible is literally true in every respect. But this is not necessary; the Spiritual truths are the most important things to take out of the Creation story, and we must understand what the inspired authors of Sacred Scripture were trying to teach us about mankind.
With all of that said, Adam and Eve are indeed considered to be Saints by the Catholic Church. According to a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis as well as traditional Catholic teaching Adam was molded by clay in the image and likeness of God, and Eve was created by God from Adam’s rib. They were husband and wife. Both of them could eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden of Eden, the Paradise in which they lived, except the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve, however was tempted into eating the fruit by the wiles of the Serpent, and she convinced Adam to eat as well. Because of their disobedience to God Saints Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and lived in a world of pain and suffering.
After their expulsion from the Garden tradition tells us that Adam repented fully from his sin. By his sorrow, contrition, pleading, and, most importantly, love, God forgave Adam fully of his sin. He lived to be 930 years old. After his death Adam, with his wife Eve (who also must have repented), goes to the Limbo of the Just which is called “hell” in the Apostles’ Creed. The Limbo of the Just, however, is not the place of the damned. It is the place where righteous people waited for the coming of Christ before He conquered death and opened the gates of Heaven. According to tradition Adam ascended body and soul into Heaven with Christ on Ascension Thursday, forty days after Easter. Eve, too, was released from the Limbo of the Just and shared in the Glory of Christ in Heaven.
The feast day of Adam and Eve is the vigil of Christmas, the day before the fulfillment of the protoevangelium. They are the patron Saints of humble penance. The fact that they are considered Saints is a wonderful testimony to the mercy of our Almighty God.
If you enjoyed this hub, also see:
- The Book of Genesis