Hagiophobia Fear of saints or holy things
Carrying on from yesterday’s post today we will look at what one would consider to be the opposite of the fear of hell, that being Hagiophobia, which is the fear of saints and holy things. Religion and religious services can be a pageantry of pomp and ceremony. But of course behind the pomp, there is the stories which give these ceremonies their “power”. Particularly in the Catholic Church one of the founding pillars of belief is that there were people who sacrificed themselves, either for god or for the church itself. Many of these martyrs go on to be canonised into becoming saints. The stories of these individuals are usually harrowing and can be frightening when one adds that it is through them that you speak to god.
The additional factor of this fear is that sufferers may try to compare their everyday lives to those of the saints, which of course, they feel that they are not nearly as worthy as them to go to heaven. This recognition of the sufferer’s apparent failings can cause great distress and fear, which can then be extended in to a fear of all holy things. This guilt can cause the sufferer great upset and discomfort whenever matters of religion is discussed.
As with the fear of hell, it is not the therapist’s job to help the sufferer lose his or her faith but rather to rationalise the fear and help them strike a balance with regards to this issue so that the fear no longer causes them pain.