During Jesus' Birth,
His Mother Mary Remained A Virgin
by Monsignor Charles M.
During Mass on
Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation we recite the Nicene Creed,
in which we profess: “By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was
born of the Virgin Mary and became man.”
We may pass over
these words hundreds of times without much reflection. How
unfortunate! Why? Because this phrase refers to several great
mysteries. One is that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary,
meaning that Mary retained her virginity even while giving birth
embraces Our Blessed Lady’s “Perpetual Virginity.” In 649, the
Lateran Council under Pope Saint Martin I declared: “If anyone
does not, in accord with the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the Holy,
Ever-Virgin and Immaculate Mary as really and truly the Mother
of God, inasmuch as she, in the fullness of time, and without
seed conceived, by the Holy Spirit of God, Jesus the Word
Himself, Who before all time was born of God the Father, and
with integrity brought Him forth (incorruptibly bore Him), and
after His Birth preserved her virginity inviolate, let him be
Mary, the Church
insists, is the “Ever-Virgin”: before, during and after the
Birth of Jesus.
Before time began
God decreed that the Mother of the Son would continue in her
virginity. Therefore, Mary’s virginal state was never altered
even while giving birth to the Savior. The term “Virgin Birth”
signifies Mary’s virginity during the Birth. (Often, “Virgin
Birth” is inaccurately used when discussing Jesus’ conception in
the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit.)
What the Baby
Jesus left His chaste Mother’s womb, He did so miraculously
without opening it or any part of her body. There were no
lesions or ruptures. As light goes through a windowpane without
shattering it, so the Messiah departed from Our Lady’s body
without changing her virginal state.
Isaiah (7:14) prophesied thus: “The virgin shall conceive and
bear a son and He shall be called Emmanuel.” The woman who
conceived virginally would bear virginally.
understand Saint Luke 1:35 as relating to the Virgin Birth:
“Hence He Who will be born holy (‘in a holy way’) will be called
Son of God.”
No Father of the
Church argued against the Virgin Birth and certain ones from the
first five centuries—Saints Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus,
Clement of Alexandria, Zeno of Verona, Ephrem, Ambrose, Jerome,
Augustine and Peter Chrysologus—wrote of it.
Teaching Authority (“Magisterium”) has defended the Virgin
Birth: the letter dated 392 Bishop Anysisus that scorned the
notion “which holds that He (Jesus) could not be born of a
virgin”; the 449 Tome to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople by
Pope Saint Leo the Great, asserting that Mary “ brought Him
forth without the loss of virginity, even as the conceived Him
without its loss”; the 553 Second Ecumenical Council of
Constantinople, referring to the Madonna with the Greek
aeiparthenos (“Ever-Virgin”); the 649 Lateran Council cited
above; the 1555 Bull of Pope Paul IV, which rejected a Unitarian
concept that Mary relinquished her virginity during Christ’s
The 1964 Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of the Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council (1962-1965) emphasized that “Jesus, at His
Birth, did not diminish His Mother’s virginal integrity but
sanctified it” (#57).
The Roman Missal
of 1970 reiterated the Virgin Birth in the special insert to
Eucharistic Prayer I to be used on Christmas Day and during its
Octave: “In union with the whole Church we celebrate that day
(night) when Mary, without loss of her virginity, gave the world
The Catechism of
the Catholic Church (1992) stated: “The deepening of faith in
the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real
and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the
Son of God made man” (#499).
aforementioned, what may we conclude?
God the Father
willed that His Son’s Mother always remain a virgin. This unique
facet of “virginity-maternity” calls attention to Christ’s
Divinity. Jesus is a Divine Person with two natures, one divine
and the other human. He is the Second Person of the Most Blessed
Trinity and shares the same essence as His Eternal Father and
the Holy Spirit.
God chose Mary of
Nazareth to become the Mother of Jesus, preserving her from
Original Sin and then arranging that she would conceive
virginally and retain her virginity while giving birth. It is no
exaggeration to claim that Mary the Mother is Mary the Virgin.
Clearly, Our Lady has no human equals because God established
her as both Virgin and Mother.
Ours is an
awesome God! What a marvel He has worked in Our Blessed Lady—the
Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ.
Ever-Virgin, pray for us!