Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Virginity of Mary During the Birth of Christ

What does it mean that Mary was a virgin “during” the birth of Jesus? Is this something we are required to believe?

That Mary remained a virgin during the birth of Jesus is an aspect of her perpetual virginity that you don’t hear a lot about nowadays. But, it is just as important as our belief that Mary was a virgin before the conception of Christ and that she remained a virgin forever after He was born.

When we say that Mary remained a virgin even during the birth of Christ, we mean that there was nothing about the birthing process that caused her pain or that violated her bodily, virginal integrity. Amazing things happen to a woman’s body during the birthing process. In a sense, she is forever changed, at a physical level, once this birth has taken place. Mary’s experience of this was different and miraculous. Her body didn’t undergo these changes typically caused by the birthing process. She did not even experience any pain!

Why does all this matter? Well, in the first place, it matters simply because it is true, and we want to affirm all that is true. But, beyond that, this type of radical virginity points to Mary as someone who made a complete and perfect offering of her entire self, even her body and her sexuality, to the Lord. This also highlights the fact that Mary’s son is no ordinary son. Both His conception in the womb of Mary and His coming into the world were of a miraculous nature because He is Himself a miracle: the Word of God made man.

Since this has been the consistent teaching of the Church, it is a teaching that we should believe. Here are a few examples where the Church has taught that Mary remained a virgin during the birth of Jesus:
  • "This is the virgin who conceived in her womb and as a virgin bore a son." (Pope Siricius, 390 AD)
  • “And as the Virgin acquired the modesty of virginity before conception, so also she experienced no loss of her integrity; for she conceived a virgin, gave birth a virgin, and after birth retained the uninterrupted modesty of an intact virgin." (Council of Toledo, 693 AD)
  • “Besides, what is admirable beyond the power of thoughts or words to express, He is born of His Mother without any diminution of her maternal virginity” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, “The Creed”)
  • "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest… also at the birth of Our Lord, who did not diminish His mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, no. 57)

This is just a short summary, much more could be said. For more information, see the following articles:

Pax Christi,

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