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Rev. Father Angelo,

I read with particular interest the answer you gave to another visitor about the perpetual virginity of Our Lady.

It is fundamental to believe that Mary is always a virgin because she never had carnal intercourse neither before nor after giving birth.

This implies that the thesis of successive pregnancies, proposed by Elvidio, is clearly heretical.

However, when you mention St. Augustine who speaks of “the door that will be closed forever”, do you mean that Our Lady, despite the birth, still remains intact anatomically speaking? 

Do you assert that during childbirth, at the passage of the newborn, the previously inviolate hymen of the mother was not torn? If so, doesn’t it seem to you that virginity is trivially associated with the integrity of a small piece of tissue in a woman, whose physiological function is not well understood?

Jesus is the true God and also a true man. Therefore during His birth He came out of the uterus and went down the natural way like all other children, leaving the Mother, who had not known any man, with a mark on the female genital system, as it happens for all the other mothers in this world.

I’ll be waiting for your reply. Thank you and kind regards

Answer from the priest

Dear Vincenzo,

1. As a true believer, you affirm the perpetual virginity of Our Lady.

However, if during childbirth she lost her virginity, even physical virginity, why still call her “The ever-virgin Mary“?

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to change the language?

After all, it is not logical to use a word and give it another meaning.

2. It is clear that Mary’s virginity is not reduced only to the physical aspect.

There is more than that and the Holy Doctors of the Church were able to explain it.

3. So how did Mary give birth?

Here is what St. Albert the Great, teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, writes: “Mary is a star because as the star emits the ray, so the Virgin generates the Son with the same splendor: nor is the star crippled by the emission of ray, nor is the mother from generating the Son.

In fact, the way of generation is very different in the sphere of the creatures of heaven compared with that in the sphere of the creatures of this earth: the beings of the earth become corrupted by the act of generating, the beings of heaven do not.

No matter how many rays emanate from a star, the star does not become corrupted or feel diminished in its light.

Thus the Word of the Father, ray ‘of eternal light, candor and spotless mirror’ (cf. Wis 7:26) of the Father’s brightness, gave fruitfulness to the Mother but did not take away her virginity, and therefore did not diminish but increase the light of her dignity.

‘For nothing will be impossible for God’ (Lk 1:37): He who walked on the waves of the sea without sinking into it, He who came out of the tomb without breaking the seal of the stone – it was overturned, as the Gospel says (Mt 28: 2), from an angel and not from the Lord -, He who presented himself to the disciples behind closed doors, could also be born of a virgin Mother without violating her virginal modesty. This is why we call the Virgin Mary a star” (St. Albert the Great, Treatise on the nature of Good, chap. 142).

4. Here is what St. Thomas says: “The pain of the woman in childbirth is produced by the expansion of the ways through which the offspring must come out.

But we explained that Christ came out of the womb of the mother without opening it, and therefore without any dilation.

Therefore in her childbirth there was no pain whatsoever, no corruption whatsoever, but supreme joy, since ‘man God was born into the light of the world’, according to the words of Isaiah 35,1: ‘The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom “(Summa Theologiae, III, 35, 6).

5. Someone was induced to think that in that moment Jesus Christ wanted to show what He then showed Peter, James and John on the Holy Mountain when his body was transfigured, the highest glory of his soul which He also perpetually propagated even in his body after the glorious resurrection.

The Gospel does not say this explicitly. But the language of St. Albert and St. Thomas, speaking of ray and light, allows us to understand what some mystics affirm.

Mary at that moment would have been fully touched by the glory of Our Lord and given birth in a luminous ecstasy “without any pain, without any corruption, and with supreme joy“.

In my opinion it is likely that this is what happened.

What Jesus did during his resurrection by entering behind closed doors without breaking the walls, would have occurred at the moment of his birth, which did not fill Our Lady with pain but with joy, bringing her a sign and a ray of the glory and joy of her divine nature.

6. St Thomas would seem to go along this line when he writes: “To show the truth of his body He was born of a woman. To show his divinity He was born of a virgin”.

In fact, as St. Ambrose says: “such is the birth that befits God” (Veni redemptor gentium) (Summa Theologiae, III, 28, 2, ad 2).

7. And again: “We must therefore affirm that all these facts were miraculously accomplished by divine power.

Hence the words of St. Augustine: “Where the divinity intervened, the body did not stop in front of closed doors. He who was born could well enter, without opening them, leaving his mother’s virginity inviolate” (In Ioh., Ev. tract.121).

And Dionysius writes that “Christ performed human things in a superhuman way: and this is demonstrated by the miraculous conception from a virgin and the solidity of the moving waters under the weight of his earthly feet” (Epist. 4) (Summa Theologicae, III, 28, 2, ad 3).

8. Finally, you added: “Doesn’t it seem to you that virginity is trivially associated with the integrity of a small piece of tissue in the woman, whose physiological function is not so clearly understood?”

I could say that even though you miss the meaning of that “physiological function not well understood” it is not true that this does not exist!

The Creator did nothing unnecessary and unclear.

9. Also try to ask those girls who have tried to preserve their virginity for their marriage and were happy to have achieved it. Try asking Santa Maria Goretti!

On the other hand, try asking the girls who lost their virginity before marriage and at the same time they also lost the boy they trusted.

That “little flap”, as you call it, is a sign.

And how rich in meaning it is!

I thank you for the question that allowed me to remember how the mystics explain virginity in the birth of Our Lady, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo