Monday, August 1, 2011

The Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September feast of Saints Michael, Grabriel, Raphael--->
<---Curé d´Ars. Model Priest.

Our insight into Mary's virginal conception comes from the Gospels of Matthew and from Luke. The virginal conception is not referred to in Paul, Mark or John.
This asserts that the belief in the virginal conception was preceded to Matthew and Luke.

It seems clear that the two evangelists traditionally known as Matthew and Luke, writing in the era AD. 80-100, believed that, in conceiving Jesus, Mary remained bodily a virgin and did not have intercourse with Joseph... Neither evangelist knew the other's infancy narrative, and the fact that a virginal conception through the power of the Holy Spirit is one of the few points on which they agree means that this tradition antedated both facts.

The perpetual virginity of Mary, the Virgin Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made Man", is part of the teaching of Catholicism and Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, and Anglo-Catholics as expressed in their liturgies, in which they repeatedly refer to Mary as "ever virgin".

In Lutheranism and Anglicanism, the perpetual virginity of Mary is an open question, and some Lutherans and Anglicans opine that it is true.


The word virgin comes via Old French virgine from the root form of Latin virgo, genitive virgin-is, meaning literally "maiden" or "virgin"—a sexually intact young woman.
The Latin word probably arose by analogy with a suit of lexemes based on vireo, meaning "to be green, fresh or flourishing", mostly with botanic reference—in particular, virga meaning "strip of wood".

Thus, according to this teaching, Mary was ever-virgin (Greek ἀειπάρθενος, aeiparthenos) for the whole of her life, making Jesus her only biological son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous.
The first known use of virgin in English comes from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript held at Trinity College, Cambridge.


The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which is believed de fide (i.e. held by Catholics as being an essential part of faith), states that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth, and so covers much more than the doctrine of her virginal conception of Jesus, often referred to as the virgin birth of Jesus.

Traditionally Mary's virginity has been described as ante partum (before the birth), inpartu (during childbirth without breaking the hymen and/or a birth without pain) and post partum (after the birth of Jesus).

The virginal conception is affirmed by Sacred Scripture - virginitas ante partu; the second was discerned by the Church's intuition - virginitas in partu; the perpetual virginity, is strongly implied in the sacred text, and with the exception of Tertullian, has been held by important theologians from the beginning of Christianity.

It is distinct from the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which relates to the conception of the Virgin Mary herself without any stain ("macula" in Latin) of original sin.

This common tradition of the perpetual virginity of Mary is one element in the well-established Catholic theology regarding the Theotokos in both East and West, a field of study known as Mariology.

The virginity of Mary at the time of her conception of Jesus is a key topic in Roman Catholic Marian art, usually represented as the annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel that she would virginally conceive a child to be born the Son of God. Frescos depicting this scene have appeared in Roman Catholic Marian churches for centuries.

Mary's virginity even after her conception of Jesus is regularly represented in the art of both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox (as well as in early Western religious art) by including in Nativity scenes the figure of Salome, whom the Gospel of James presents as finding that Mary had preserved her virginity even in giving birth to her son.

Not everyone believes in virginity of Mary.

There is nothing that Satan hates more than the Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother.
The evil spirits always feared the Purity of Mary, and diabolically attacked on Our Lady's virginity over the course of the centuries.

One doubt comes from the Jews, who say that Our Lord is the illegitimate child of Our Lady, as the result of an adulterous union with a Roman soldier.
This calumny was probably already in circulation in Jesus' lifetime, and explains the taunt of the Jews in John 8:41:
"We are not born of fornication.
" Here is Origen an early Father of the Church (d.254) in his Against Celsus.

In the Talmud Jesus is called in various places "Jesus ben Panthera.
"It is mainly for this reason that this blasphemous book was publicly burned during the Middle Ages on the recommendation of the great Dominican Doctor, St. Albertus Magnus, whose study of it was commissioned by the Holy Father.

Next came certain Jewish Christians, among them Ebion and Cerinthus, who lived in the time of the Apostle St. John, and who claimed that St. Joseph was the natural father of the child Jesus. This outrageous lie is continued today by some liberal Protestants and even by some so-called "Catholic" liberals.
Here is St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori in his The History of Heresies and Their Refutation, writing of the death of Cerinthus.
One of the impious doctrines of Cerinthus was that Jesus was a mere man, born as all other men are, and that, when he was baptized in the river Jordan.

Tertullian (circa 220) was probably the first to deny Our Lady's virginitas in partu (Virginity during birth), which might explain why he did not persevere in the Catholic faith. He was followed by Jovinian (circa 390) who was denounced by St. Jerome and condemned by a synod in Rome under Pope Siricius, and later at a synod in Milan by St. Ambrose.

The Holy Office issued a Monitum in 1960 which, "warned of the danger of irreverence toward the Blessed Mother to which even the discussion of such ideas led.
Discussion inevitably implies that there is some point yet to be clarified; whereas in this case what is to be believed is already clear such that to indulge curiosity can only weaken faith and devotion."

Here is the Monitum: "This Supreme Sacred Congregation has had repeatedly to consider, with deep concern, recently published theological works in which the delicate question of the virginity "in partu" of the Most Holy Mary was treated with deplorable crudeness of expression, and, what is more serious, in open disagreement with the traditional doctrine of the Church and with the pious sense of the faithful.

When the heretics and simple blasphemers refuse to acknowledge the Ever-virginity of the Mother of God on the grounds that the Evangelists mention the "brothers and sisters of Jesus," they are refuted by the following facts from the Gospel:

In the Gospels there are named four "brothers" (James, Joses, Simon and Jude), and there are also mentioned the "sisters" of Jesus—no fewer than three, as is evident in the words: and His sisters, are they not ALL with us? (Matt. 13:56).

It is likewise incorrect to think that the brothers and sisters of Christ were the children of His Most Holy Mother. The names of "brother" and "sister" have several distinct meanings. Signifying a certain kinship between people or their spiritual closeness, these words are used sometimes in a broader, and sometimes in a narrower sense.
In any case, people are called brothers or sisters if they have a common father and mother, or only a common father or mother; or even if they have different fathers and mothers, if their parents later (having become widowed) have entered into marriage (stepbrothers); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.

In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away (Ps. 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God's righteousness shall no longer be; precisely then, rather, will it triumph. And what does it mean when it says: For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet? (I Cor. 15:25).

Thus, a careful study of Sacred Scripture reveals with complete clarity the insubstantiality of the objections against the Ever-Virginity of Mary and puts to shame those who teach differently.


The Blessed Virgin Mary is ever-virgin. The point of the verse you have cited is plain. It leaves no room for doubting that Christ was not the result of relations between the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph—it says nothing about what happened thereafter, one way or the other.

The first reference in the Fathers to Mary's Virginity is found in the writings of Ignatius who died between 110-115 AD.

St. Jerome wrote a very detailed treatise on this subject that one can find in several readily available translations—it is titled "The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary".

Another author is Aristides of Athens, an apologist who died about 145, who writes: "it is confessed that the Son of the most high God, descended from heaven [in] as holy spirit and took flesh from a virgin.

A curious work written in the middle of the second century is the Protoevangelium of James, which is an apocryphal gospel.
In this account Anna, the wife of Joachim, mourns her barrenness.
After an apparition of two angels to Anna, Joachim offers sacrifices and Anna bears Mary.
When Mary is three years old, she is brought to the temple where she dances on the steps of the altar. Mary stays in the temple and is fed by angels.
When she is twelve the high-priest determines that she should be married and he asks the widowers to bring their staffs.
The Protoevangelium of James testifies not only to great fervor towards Mary, but also to a profound insight into her holiness and her virginity.

St. Augustine, (354-430) teaches Mary's virginal conception and birth:
"The angel makes the announcement, the virgin hears, believes, and conceives; faith in the mind, Christ in the womb.
The virgin conceived; you're astonished; the virgin gave birth; you're more astonished still; after giving birth she remained a virgin."
He also maintains the perpetual virginity of Mary.

Not only was this view held universally in the Early Church, but the Early Reformers all believed it as well.

The Ever-virginity of the Mother of God is testified by Her own words, handed down in the Gospel, where she expressed awareness of the immeasurable majesty and height of Her chosenness:
"My soul doth magnify the Lord... For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed... For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name" (Luke 1:46-49).

In response to the question of whether or not this doctrine only brings glory to the Virgin Mary, and not to God:
This doctrine is not taught for the sake of upholding the sanctity of the Virgin Mary, but because of the uniqueness and holiness of her Son. Consider the following verse:

"Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut." (Ezekiel 44:2).

This has always been interpreted by the Fathers of the Church to be a typological reference to the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation. When we consider that God took flesh from the Virgin's womb, it is not difficult to imagine that this womb would remain virgin.

The bottom line is this has been the consistent and universal view of the Church from the time of the Apostles until today.

The seedless birth of Christ can and could be denied only by those who deny the Gospel, whereas the Church of Christ from of old confesses Christ incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.

The pure life of Mary was a reproach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. So as to show themselves Christians, they did not dare to deny that Christ was born of a Virgin, but they began to affirm that Mary remained a virgin only until she brought forth her first-born son, Jesus (Matt. 1:25).

Paul IV in the Constitution Cum Quorundam (1555):
"[The opinion is condemned that Jesus Christ] was not conceived according to the flesh by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ever Virgin...or that the same most blessed Virgin Mary is not the true mother of God and did not retain her virginity intact before the birth, in the birth, and after the birth in perpetuity.

The theological significance of Mary's virginity would seem to lie in her total self- giving to God and in her total fruitfulness as a result of that self-giving.

With St. Ambrose we see some of the theology of Mary's virginity:

For why should I speak of her other virtues?

She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing in words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse;
wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have good will towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue....

This is the likeness of virginity, for Mary was such that her example alone is a lesson for all....
How many kinds of virtues shine forth in one Virgin!
The secret of modesty, the banner of faith, the service of devotion.

Spiritual significance.

Many Catholic and Orthodox hymns and prayers mention Mary's perpetual virginity.

In spiritual writings generally speaking, Mary's perpetual virginity is cited as an expression of holiness, devotion and loving self-denial.
In some of St. Augustine's writings, he gives her virginity as an example of the mystery of God.
Other spiritual writings have mentioned Mary's great humility, which is connected with the sparse mention of her in Scripture and with her willingness to be virginal in order to carry out a part of God's plan.

Some writers give Mary as an example of spiritual integrity, of which her virginal integrity is a sign. Over the centuries, it has been a tradition for some of the faithful to consecrate themselves to God, partly by remaining virgins, which is called the "charism of virginity" (or "gift of virginity").

Contemporary Christian feminists have aimed to interpret Mary's perpetual virginity as a liberating model for resistance to patriarchal marriage as a component of Christian discipleship, claiming that virginity can co-exist with sexual activity that lacks full consent and even that virginity can co-exist with fully consensual sexual activity.

In many icons, Mary's perpetual virginity is signified by three stars that appear on her left, her right, and above her or on her head, which represent her virginity before, during and after giving birth.



Blessed be your purity,
May it be blessed forever,
For no less than God takes delight,
In such exalted beauty.
To you, heavenly Princess,
Holy Virgin Mary,
I offer on this day

My whole heart, life and soul.
Look upon me with compassion,
Do not leave me, my Mother.


Mary, holy virgin mother, I have received your Son, Jesus Christ like my Savior.
I want to offer to the Holy Trinity as a supreme act of worship pray for the good of all the dying all over the world.

Mother, ask God to forgive my sins and to help me serve him more faithfully. Keep me true to Christ until death, and let me come to praise him with you forever and ever. Amen.


My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you and in proof of my affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession. Amen.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.



Thou art all fair, O Mary, and stain of original sin is not found in thee.
Thy vesture is white as snow; and thy face is as the sun.
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou art the joy of Israel; thou art the honour of our people.
Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord, the most High God, above all women upon the earth.
Draw us, O Immaculate Virgin: we will run after thee in the odour of thy ointments.



Lord, you have prepared a worthy dwelling place for Your Son by the immaculate Conception of the Virgin; grant, we pray, that as You preserved her from all stain of sin in Your foreknowledge of His death, so we, by her intercession, may come to You with pure hearts. Through Christ our Lord.

We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed virgin.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.




"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he said to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own". (John 19:25-27).


Mary is the Mother of God and our Mother. This is the foundation of our firm confidence in her. Our Blessed Mother always listens to us.



"My delights were to be with the children of men. There, children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not...He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord" (Prov 8, 31-35)


Full of love for her children, our Blessed Mother watches over us and listens to us. Is there any better way to go to Jesus?.



"I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life, and of virtue. He that listens carefully to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin" (Sirach 24,24.25.30)


Mary was conceived without stain of sin. She remained most pure throughout her life. Now that her feast is approaching, we speak to her about holy purity. This is a virtue we should constantly learn to live, and teach others to live, following the example of Jesus and Mary.



"As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things." (Mark 6,34)


The Virgin Mary attracts the hearts of Christians and keeps them close to Christ. As we try to draw others close to God, let us place this concern in the hands of our Blessed Mother. She will help us to turn our desires into apostolic deeds.



"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, where-with shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid" (Mt 5,13-14)


We do apostolate in and through our ordinary life. Our Lord gives us the necessary grace to show others the great value of our daily tasks. God waits for us in our ordinary work. He uses our ordinary life so that we may love Him more and so that we may bring others to love Him, too. In this we imitate Mary, our Mother.



"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elisabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." (Luke 1,39-41).


Let us value the deep human dimension of apostolate. In our dealings with others, let us spread cheerfulness and human affection. This is especially important for those who have never heard a kind word nor received sincere Christian help.



"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel." (Gen 3,15)

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." (Is 7,14)

"You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you are the honour of our people." (Judith 15,9)


The light of hope shines for each of us even after we have sinned. This is a constant light –the light of Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary. He forgives all our sins in the Sacrament of Penance.



"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth, and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12,24)


All that the Lord asks from us is our personal sacrifice, our work and our effort when we give Christian formation. He guarantees the result when he applies his infinite merits to souls. Apostolate demands self denial and spirit of sacrifice from us.



"Winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: The fig tree has put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell...My me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely" (Song of Songs 2,,11-14)


Our miseries are great but the protection of our beloved Blessed Mother is even greater. God’s grace shines forth and triumphs in Mary. On our part, we use all the means so that divine grace enters our soul without any resistance or obstacle.



Mary, Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, shield me from the enemy and receive me at the hour of my death. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Nativity, birth of Virgin Mary.
The Easter Lily flower symbolizes the Purity of Virgin Mary.

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