PART I: THE VIRGINITY IN SCRIPTURE

Our insight into Mary's virginal conception of Jesus comes from the Gospels of Matthew and from Luke. The virginal conception is not referred to in Paul, Mark or John. Raymond Brown asserts that the belief in the virginal conception preceded 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 accounts. Indeed, it had been in circulation long enough to have developed into (or to have been employed in) narratives of a quite diverse character and to have circulated in different Christian communities.1

In Matthew's Gospel (1:18-25) we learn about Jesus' miraculous conception through the revelations  made to Joseph. Mary is betrothed to Joseph. There were two stages to marriage among the Jewish people at this time. The first step was the betrothal, which involved consent before witnesses. This contract was so binding that the woman could be referred to as a "wife," as in Matthew 1:20, 24 where Mary is referred to as Joseph's gyn. The bride remained with her family for about a year, after which she was taken to her husband's home. In parts of Judea the man was allowed to be alone with his betrothed before she actually came to his house but this was not allowed in Galilee.2 Although Matthew situates Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and not in Galilee, Brown observes: "Matthew's story of virginal conception is set in a background of peculiarly Galilean marriage customs."3

Matthew 1:19 relates: "Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly." The general interpretation is that Joseph assumed that something was wrong. The New American Bible attests: "As a devout observer of the Mosaic law, Joseph wished to break his union with someone whom he suspected of gross violation of the law. It is commonly said that the law required him to do so, but the texts usually given in support of that view, e.g. Deuteronomy 22:20-21, do not clearly pertain to Joseph's situation. Unwilling to expose her to shame: the penalty for proven adultery was death by stoning; cf. Deuteronomy 22:21-23."4

The New Jerusalem Bible offers two possibilities: "It is perhaps because Joseph is upright that he does not want to name as his own a child of an unknown father. Another explanation is that he is deterred from proceeding with the marriage by reverence for the mystery of Mary's motherhood and has to be persuaded by means of the angelic message that it is still God's will that he should take her to wife."5

Rene Laurentin endorses the latter explanation: "This account by Matthew contains no hint of any suspicion on Joseph's part...What Joseph knew, according to Matthew 18, is that this child belonged to God alone. Justice required that he not seek to make his own either the holy offspring that was not his or this wife who belonged to God. He therefore withdrew quietly to avoid putting Mary in an awkward situation."6 Laurentin does acknowledge that the interpretation described as "Joseph's suspicion" has been "dominant in exegesis from the  time of Justin, Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, onward."7

Matthew 1:22-23 states: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel'" referring to Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14 uses 'alm which means a young maiden of marriageable age. In its context, during the Syro-Ephraimite war of 734, Isaiah is foretelling that God will give King Ahaz a sign which will be the birth of a son from a young woman.

Probably in the third century, although possibly extending into the second century, before Christ, Jews living in Alexandria, Egypt, composed a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. This was called the Septuagint, meaning "seventy," and is thus referred to as LXX. The name recalls the (unfounded) legend that seventy-two elders did the translation in seventy-two days. Since this version of the Scriptures was used by Greek-speaking Jews, it was the version used by most of the early Christians. Generally the New Testament's references to the Old Testament are to the Septuagint.

In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word, 'alm is rendered by the Greek word parthenos which actually means "virgin." The Septuagint does not necessarily imply that the child will be conceived while the woman is still a virgin. However, Matthew finds a fuller sense to this text in which a virgin bears a child. Matthew asserts that this fulfills what the Lord had spoken through the prophet. This would be an instance of the difference between the literal sense of Isaiah, the original author, and a fuller sense understood by the Church, which was intended by God, if not by the human author. The New Jerusalem Bible grants that Isaiah, at least, intended more than just the birth of a child:

Even if Isaiah had the birth of a son to Ahaz, for instance Hezekiah, immediately in mind...we may sense from the solemnity of the prophetic saying and the emphatic meaning of the symbolic name given to the child that Isaiah saw more in this royal birth than immediate circumstances, namely a decisive intervention by God, towards the final establishment of the messianic kingdom. Thus the prophecy of Immanuel goes beyond its immediate realization, and the Evangelists, Matthew 1:23 quoting Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 4:15-16 quoting Isaiah 8:23-9:1, cf. John 1:5, followed by the whole Christian tradition, have understood it as a prophecy of the birth of Christ.8

Isaiah 7:14 is not Matthew's source for believing in the virginal conception of Jesus. The authors of the ecumenical work, Mary in the New Testament, comment: "[I]t was unlikely that Matthew first came to the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus by reflecting on Isaiah 7:14, a text, that, as far as we know, no Jew had previously seen as indicative of a virginal conception of the Messiah. However, if there was already an idea that Jesus had been virginally conceived, this may have reminded Matthew of Isaiah 7:14 which the would then have reinterpreted as foretelling this conception."9

Brown in his work, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, likewise affirms: "[I]t is dubious that Isaiah 7:14 was the origin of Matthew's tradition of a virginal conception; elsewhere, including chapter 2, it is Matthew's custom to add fulfillment or formula citations to existing traditions. And, indeed, there is no proof that Isaiah 7:14 played any major role in shaping the Lucan account of the virginal conception."10

Matthew 1:25 relates: "He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus." In Luke it will be Mary who calls her son Jesus (Luke 1:32). The word "until" es is ambiguous. Matthew's concern is to explain the virginal conception of Jesus. This same expression is used by the LXX to explain David's relationship with his wife Michal, Saul's daughter. "And Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no child es the day of  her death" (2 Samuel 6:23 ).

In Luke 1: 34, Mary's response to the angel's message that she will have a child is: "I do not know a man" epei andra ou ginsk. "To know" is the Semitic expression for sexual relations. The same word is used in Matt 1:25, "He did not know eginsken her."

Luke makes it clear that Mary is a virgin. Virginity was not valued by the Jews.  Thus the daughter of Jephthah goes to the mountains to bewail her virginity because 'She had never known a man' (Judges 11:39). Similarly, Judges 12:12 speaks of four hundred virgins 'who never slept with a man' as though they were unfulfilled.

Ignace de la Potterie raises the question whether Mary had intended to preserve her virginity despite her marriage to Joseph. He writes: "We do not think that it is a question of a conscious decision to keep one's virginity. That would be putting too much into the text. At this moment in salvation history that would be an anachronism. It is rather a question of orientation, of a profound attraction to a virginal way of life, a secret desire for virginity, proved and existentially experienced by Mary, but which could not yet take the form of a decision, because that was impossible in the milieu in which she lived."11

Pope John Paul II in a Wednesday audience in 1997, draws attention to Mary's question, "How can this be?" Would this be a difficulty if she did not have the intention to remain a virgin? The Pope mentions that celibacy was practiced among the Essenes at Qumran and among a sect related to the Essenes in Egypt called the Therapeutae, although he doubts that Mary was aware of these movements. He believes her grace of celibacy is related to her Immaculate Conception.

Although the second chapter of Luke does not bring out Mary's virginity, a little aside in the third chapter does. In the genealogy, Luke 3:23 tells us: "When Jesus began His ministry He was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph." Fitzmyer observes: "As in the Matthean genealogy, Jesus ancestry is traced through Joseph, not through Mary...To Joseph a legal or commonly estimated paternity is thus ascribed; Jesus is regarded as his heir. This is also the reason why Mary and Joseph are described as 'his parents' in 2:41, and Mary is made to refer to Joseph, in speaking to Jesus as 'your father' (2:48). Cf. 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42. "12

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). A question rises regarding the "brothers and the sisters of the Lord." If they are Mary's children, then Mary's virginity relates only to Jesus' conception and possibly his birth.

References to the brothers and at times also the sisters of Jesus are found in various places in the New  Testament such as Mark 3:31; 6:3; Matthew 13:55; Luke 8:19-20; John 2:12; 7:5; Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:7;  Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12; James 1:1; Jude 1.

The authors of Mary in the New Testament point out:

The term adelphos, which is used in Mark 6:3, would normally denote a blood brother, 'son of the same mother,' frater germanus. It is well known that in the NT adelphos at times denotes other relationships: e.g. 'co-religionist' (Rom 9:3, where it is in the plural, and further specified as referring to kinsmen [syngeneis] according to the flesh); 'neighbor' (Matt 5:22-24)- but these instances do not help with the problem at hand, for here Jesus' mother and sisters are mentioned also. More pertinent would be the use of adelphos for step-brother in Mark 6:17-18. In the Greek adelphos is sometimes used in the broad sense of 'kinsmen, relative' e.g., in the LXX of Gen 29:12, Jacob tells Rebekah 'that he is her father's adelphos (Kinsman)' also Gen 24:48. The Greek usage here obviously reflects the underlying Hebrew in which 'ah means both (blood) brother and ' kinsman.' The same range of meaning seems to be attested for Aramaic.13

Fitzmyer also notes:

For the word adelphos can express other relationships: 'neighbor' (Matt 5:22- 24), co-religionist (Rom 9:3 [syngenes, 'kin']), 'stepbrother' (Mark 6:17-18, unless the evangelist has erred there about the relationship of Philip to Herod's relative' or 'kinsman' (so at times in the LXX: Gen 13:8; 14:14; 24:27; 29:12). The LXX usage may reflect the broader sense of Hebrew ah or Aramaic aha, 'brother, kinsman.' Thus an Aramaic papyrus letter bears the opening formula, 'To my son from your brother' as a father writes to his son who is away on a caravan.... The same is found occasionally in Greek texts..."14

There is an indication in the text that clearly raises the possibility that those who are described adelphoi are not Jesus' blood brothers. In Mark 6:3, his brothers are spoken of as James, and Joses, Judas and  Simon. Then when Mark identifies the women at the Cross when Jesus died, he states: "Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome" (15:40). Is this a coincidence? In Matthew 13:55, His brothers are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. When Matthew names the women at the cross, he lists: "Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee."

The authors of Mary and the New Testament reach these conclusions:

We did agree on these points: 1) The continued virginity of Mary after the birth of Jesus is not a question directly raised by the NT. 2) Once it was raised in subsequent church history, it was that question which focused attention on the exact relationship of the 'brothers' (and 'sisters) to Jesus. 3) Once that attention has been focused, it cannot be said that the NT identifies them without doubt as blood brothers and sisters and hence as children of Mary. 4) The solution favored by scholars will in part depend on the authority they allot to later church insights.15

A thorough study of the issue was made by Joseph Blinzler entitled Die Bruder und Schwestern Jesu (SBS 21; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1967). His conclusion was that those described as brothers and sisters were cousins.

PART II: THE VIRGINITY IN THE FATHERS

The first reference in the Fathers to Mary's Virginity is found in the writings of Ignatius who died between  110-115 AD. One of Ignatius' concerns was to refute the Docetists who denied the reality of Jesus' flesh since in their opinion the matter could not be spiritual, thus Jesus only seemed to have a body. Two of his five references to Mary mention her virginity:

"You are fully persuaded concerning our Lord, that he is in truth of the family of David, according to the flesh,  Son of God by the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin" (Smymeans 1.1).

"And hidden from the prince of this world were the virginity of Mary, and her giving birth, and likewise the death of the Lord: three mysteries crying out to be told, but wrought in the silence of God" (Ephesians 19.1).

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. "16

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. A dove flies out of Joseph's staff and rests on his head. Joseph protests that he is an old man. In the meanwhile Mary is asked by the high-priest to spin a new purple veil for the temple.

As she is drawing water, she experiences the Annunciation and then visits her cousin Elizabeth. Joseph goes away building houses. When he returns he is startled to notice that Mary is pregnant and felt he is responsible for not have watched over her more carefully. When the priest finds out that Mary is pregnant, he conducts a trial. Joseph is made to drink some potion which will reveal his crime. When Joseph remains well, the priest sends them off. Because of the decree calling for the census, the couple go to Bethlehem where Jesus is born in a cave. Joseph seeks a midwife. Another woman Salome certifies that Mary's virginity is intact but her hand is withered until an angel heals her. After the wise men come, Herod seeks to kill the children. Elizabeth looks for a place to hide her son John in the mountains which divide to hide them. When Herod cannot find John,  he sends his soldiers to the Temple where they murder Zachariah who is offering sacrifice at the altar.17

One cannot help but notice the difference between the simplicity of the Gospels of the Church and this work which tends to be complicated and concentrate on what seems to be almost magical, e.g. a dove flying out of  Joseph's staff. Rene Laurentin says of this work:

[T]he Protoevangelium of James [is] an apocryphal gospel without historical value. I do not say...without value. The Protoevangelium of James testifies not only to great fervor towards Mary, but also to a profound insight into her holiness and her virginity, yet, in spite of its antiquity (the middle of the second century), it shows (unlike our gospels), a tremendous ignorance regarding the Jewish customs and laws which were operative in the temple in Jerusalem. It is totally unlikely that a little girl of three years of age could have been reared there, let alone in the holy of holies, reserved for priests on solemn occasions.18

Luigi Gambero makes these observations:

Obviously, works such as the Protoevangelium cannot claim the seal of divine inspiration. However, in  some way they helped the first generations of Christians to intuit the truth of certain mysteries whose  dogmatic formulation would later become more and more clear in the light of divine revelation; these writings also traced an itinerary through which believing people sought to draw near to the unfathomable mystery of the virgin mother....The Protoevangelium's author, as a collector of different stories and traditions, can be considered a very early and valid witness to the Christian people's faith in the complete holiness and virginity of the Mother of the Lord.19

The authors of Mary in the New Testament point out the contribution of Justin:

It is only with Justin Martyr, the apologist and philosopher (d.ca. AD. 165), that Marian themes and particularly Jesus' virginal conception, gained some prominence in theological argument. It is possible, as we have mentioned, that Justin knew the Protoevangelium and used it. However, his interest in Mary basically  serves a christological and soteriological purpose: Jesus' birth of the virgin is, on the one hand, proof of his messiahship and, on the other, the sign of a new time.20

With Clement of Alexandria (150-215) we find an explication of Mary's virginity which seems to show the influence of the Protoevangelium or similar sources:

But, as appears, many even down to our own time, regard Mary, on account of the birth of her child, as having been in the puerperal state, although she was not. For some say that, after she brought forth, she was found, when examined, to be a virgin. Now such to us are the Scriptures of the Lord, which gave birth to the truth and continue virgin, in the concealment of the mysteries of the truth. 'And she brought forth, and yet brought not forth' says the Scripture; as having conceived of herself and not from conjunction.21

Tertullian (155/160-240/250) was born in Carthage. He affirms Mary's virginal conception of Jesus:

Now it will first be necessary to show what previous reason there was for the Son of God's being born of a virgin. He who was going to consecrate a new order of birth, must Himself be born after a novel fashion, concerning which Isaiah foretold how the Lord Himself would give a sign. What, then, is the sign? 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son' (Isaiah 7:14). Accordingly a virgin did conceive and bear 'Emmanuel, God with us' (Matthew 1:23). This is the new nativity; a man is born in God. And in this man God was born, taking the flesh of an ancient race, without the help, however, of the ancient seed, in order that he might reform it with new seed, that is, in a spiritual manner, and cleanse it by the removal of all its ancient stains. But the whole of this new birth was prefigured, as was the case in all other instances, in ancient type, the Lord being born as a man by a dispensation in which the virgin was the medium. The earth was still in a virgin state, reduced as yet by no human labor, with no seed as yet cast into its furrows, when, as we are told, God made man out of it into a living soul. As, then, the first Adam is thus introduced to us, it is a just inference that the second Adam likewise, as the apostle has told us, was formed by God into a quickening spirit out of the ground - in -- other words, out of flesh which was unstained as yet by any human generation.22

Tertullian, while affirming Mary's virginal conception of Jesus, did not hold that Mary was virginal in childbirth. He also considered the "brothers and sisters" to be blood brothers and sisters.

Origen (185-254) was born in Alexandria. He believed in Mary's perpetual virginity, stating: "There is no child of Mary except Jesus, according to the opinion of those who think correctly about her. "23 The same teaching is found in his Commentary on Matthew. "Those who speak thus mean to safeguard Mary's dignity in the virginity she conserved until the end, so that body chosen to serve the Word... did not know any relations with a man, after the point that the Holy Spirit came down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. "24

Athanasius (295-373), bishop of Alexandria, makes the argument for Mary's perpetual virginity from the Gospel of John:

If Mary would have had another son, the Savior would not have neglected her nor would he have confided his mother to another person, indeed she had not become the mother of another. Mary, moreover, would not have abandoned her own sons to live with another, for she fully realized a mother never abandons her spouse nor her children. And since she continued to remain a virgin even after the birth of the Lord, he gave her as mother to the disciple, even though she was not his mother; he confided her to John because of his great purity of conscience and because of her intact virginity.25

In St. Ambrose (339/340-397), bishop of Milan, we see explicit reference to Mary's virginity in childbirth: "Since Christ was born from the womb of the Virgin, nevertheless he preserved the enclosure of her sexual chastity and the untouched seal of her virginity."26 And, "Behold the miracle of Our Lord's Mother. She conceived, a Virgin; she brought forth, a Virgin. A Virgin was she when she conceived, a Virgin when pregnant, a Virgin after childbirth: as it is says in Ezekiel: And the gate was shut, and it was not opened for the Lord passed through it." 27

St. Hilary (315-367), Bishop of Poitiers, who was a defender of the Creed of Nicea against the Arians, argues regarding Mary's perpetual virginity on the basis of John's Gospel:

Indeed many depraved men give authority to their opinion that our Lord Jesus Christ was known to have brothers (and sisters). While if these were really the sons of Mary and not those of Joseph from a former marriage, never would our Lord at the time of his passion have given Mary to the apostle John to be his mother by saying to both of them, 'Woman behold your son,' and to John, 'Behold your mother,' unless he were leaving the charity of a son in the disciple for the solace of his now desolate mother.28

Epiphanius of Salamis (d.403) taught the perpetual virginity of Mary: "Is not the very name [virgin] sufficient witness? Is it not enough to convince you, you quarrelsome fellow? Was there ever anyone who dared pronounce the name of holy Mary without immediately adding the title 'Virgin.'"29 Epiphanius considered Joseph to be old and Jesus' "brothers" to be Joseph's children of a previous marriage.

Jerome (347-419/420), who was born in Stridon in Dalmatia, present Croatia, and died in Bethlehem, we find very explicit teachings on the perpetual virginity of Mary in his work against Helvidius:

I was requested by certain of the brethren not long ago to reply to a pamphlet written by one Helvidius. I have deferred doing so, not because it is a difficult matter to maintain the truth and refute an ignorant boor who has scarce known the first glimmer of learning, but because I was afraid my reply might make him appear worth defending....! must call upon the Holy Spirit to express His meaning by my mouth and defend the virginity of the Blessed Mary. I must call upon the Lord Jesus to guard the sacred lodging of the womb in which He abode for ten months from all suspicion of sexual intercourse. And I must also entreat God the  Father to show that the mother of His Son, who was mother before she was a bride, continued a Virgin after her Son was born.30

Jerome responds to Helvidius' appeal to Tertullian: "Feeling himself to be a smatterer, he then produces Tertullian as a witness...Of Tertullian I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. "31

Jerome disregarded the apocryphal gospels: "No midwife assisted at his birth; no woman's officiousness intervened. With her own hands she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, herself both mother and midwife, 'and laid Him,' we are told, 'in a manger, because there was no room in the inn'; a statement which on one hand, refutes the ravings of the apocryphal accounts... "32

St. Jerome makes it clear that his emphasis on Mary's virginity is not a rejection of marriage:

Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage. You say that Mary did not continue a virgin. I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born... It is nowhere written that he had another wife but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin.33

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."34 He also maintains the perpetual virginity of Mary: "As in the womb of the Virgin Mary no one was conceived before Him, and no one after Him, so in the sepulcher there was no one buried before Him, and no one after Him."35

PART III: THE VIRGINITY IN THE CHURCH'S TEACHING

Letter of Pope Siricius to Anysius, Bishop of Thessalonica: "Your holiness is rightly repelled by the idea that any other birth should have taken place from the womb whence Christ was born according to the flesh. Jesus would not have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had to regard her as being so little continent as to desecrate the place of birth of the Lord's body, that temple of the eternal King, by human intercourse"36

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."

PART VI: THE THEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MARY'S VIRGINITY

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.

Cardinal Ratzinger has made some comments on the denial of the virginity of Mary:

The world-view that would force us psychologically to declare the virginal birth an impossibility clearly does not result from knowledge, but from an evaluation.... Now we can say that the real reason behind the reasons against the confession of Mary's virginity lies not in the field of a historical (exegetical) knowledge, but in the presuppositions of a world-view... Contrary to the usual presentation the real dispute occurs not between historical naivet and historical criticism, but between two preconceptions of God's relationship to His world....The affirmation of Jesus' birth from the Virgin Mary intends to affirm these two truths: (1) God really acts - realiter, not just interpretative, and (2) the earth produces its fruit - precisely because He acts. The Natus ex Maria virgine is in its nucleus a strictly theological affirmation that bears witness to the God who has not let creation slip out of His hands. On this are based the hope, the freedom, the assurance, and the responsibility of the Christian.37

St. Jerome writes: "For me, virginity is consecrated in the persons of Mary and of Christ." 38 

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

Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life, showing, as an example, the clear rules of virtue: what you have to correct, to effect, and to hold fast....What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? ....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, the Virgin within the house, the companion for the ministry, the mother at the temple.39

Denis Vincent Wiseman, O.P.
July 19, 2002


1 Raymond, E.. Brown, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Pau1ist, 1973), 52-53.
2 Raymond E. Brown et a1, Mary in the New Testament, (New York: Pau1ist, 1978), 83, note 173.
3Brown, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, 65.
4 The New American Bible, in The Catholic Study Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 8, note 1, 19.
5 The New Jerusalem Bible, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co, 1985), 1611, note f.
6 Rene Laurentin, The Truth of Christmas : Beyond the Myths, trans .Michael J .Wrenn (Petersham, : St. Bede's Publications, 1986), 266.
7 Rene Laurentin, The Truth of Christmas, 267 .
8 The New Jerusalem Bible, 1201, note f.
9 Brown et al, Mary in the New Testament, 92.
10 Brown, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus , 64.
11 Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, trans. Bertrand Buby, S.M. (Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1992), 27.
12 Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J., The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (New York, Doubleday, 1984), 449.
13 Brown et al, Mary in the New Testament, 65-66.
14 Fitzmyer, Luke I-IX, 724.
15 Brown et al, Mary in the New Testament, 72.
16 Aristides of Athens, Apology, 15, 1, quoted by J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), 145.
17 The Proto-Gospel of James, in Bertrand Buby, S.M., Mary of Galilee, Vol. Ill, The Marian Heritage of the Early Church (Staten island, NY: Alba House, 1997), 37-52. Also in The Apocryphal Books of the New Testament (Philadelphia: David McKay Publisher, 1901), 24-37.
18 Rene Laurentin, A Year of Grace with Mary (Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1987), 29.
19 Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1999), 40-41.
20 Brown et al, Mary in the New Testament, 254-255.
21 Clement of Alexandria, "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. II, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Win. B. Eerdmans, 1986), 551. (This Scriptural reference is also given by Tertullian to Ezekiel but the words cannot be found).
22 Tertullian, "On the Flesh of Christ" in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. Ill, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986), 536.
23 Origen, Commentary on John 1, 4; PG 14, 32, in Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, 75.
24 Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10, 17; PG 13, 876-77, in Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, 75-76.
25 Athanasius, "De virginitate," in Buby, Mary ofGalilee, III, 104
26 Ambrose, "De institutione virginis," 52, in Buby, Mary ofGalilee, III, 122.
27 Ambrose, "Homily for Christmas," in Buby, Mary ofGalilee, III, 128.
28 Hilary, Commentary on Matthew, in Buby, Mary ofGalilee, III, 134.
29 Epiphanius, Haer. 78, 6; PG 42, 705 D. in Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, 123.
30 Jerome, "Against Helvidius," in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. VI, ed. W.H. Freemantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983), 335.
31 Jerome, "Against Helvidius," in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. VI, 343.
32 Jerome, "Against Helvidius," in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. VI, 339.
33 Jerome, "Against Helvidius", in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. VI, ed. W.H. Freemantle, G.Lewis and W.G. Martley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983), 344.
34 Augustine, "Sermon 196" The Works of St. Augustine, III, 6, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., ed. JohnE. Rotelle, O.S.A. (New Rochelle, NY: New City Press, 1992), 61.
35 Augustine, "On The Gospel of John", cxx, in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. V, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1971), 435.
36 Josef Neuner, S.J. & Heinrich Roos, S. J., The Teaching of the Catholic Church, ed. Karl Rahner, S. J., trans. Geoffrey Stevens (Staten Island, NY: Alba, 1966), 183.
37 Joseph Ratzinger, Daughter Zion, trans. John M. McDermott, S.J. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983), 59-61.
38 Jerome, "Letter XXII, to Eustochium", in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. VI, ed. W.H. Freemantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983), 29.
39 Ambrose, "Concerning Virgins," Book II, in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. X, ed. Philip Schaffand Henry Wace (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1983), 374-375.

 
 

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