In my book, Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary (Emmaus Road Publishing), I open the chapter on the dogma of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity with this,
“The second dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was defined by the Catholic Church is the dogma of Her Perpetual Virginity. Many of the Early Church Fathers, which we will see shortly, without question, understand and taught this dogma to be truth since the early days of the Church. It was also affirmed by papal and council documents.
The Perpetual Virgin dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary professes that she was a virgin before the birth of Christ (ante partum), during the birth of Christ (in partu), and after the birth of Christ (post partum). This dogma was declared at the Lateran Synod in 649 A.D. by Pope Saint Martin I. As an article of the faith, the Holy Father professed, ‘The blessed ever-virginal and immaculate Mary conceived, without seed, by the Holy Spirit, and without the loss of integrity brought Him forth, and after His birth preserved her virginity inviolate.'”
Since Wednesday, April 13, is the optional memorial for Pope St. Martin I, I thought I would focus on Mary as the Virgin of All Virgins, since it was he who took the doctrine of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity and solidified it as a dogma of the Church.
In order to see Mary’s importance as the Virgin of Virgins, we are going to draw from another Saint Pope – John Paul II. His love for Christ, Our Lady, and the Catholic Church was magnificent to witness. Here are five quotes from the 20th century Polish Pope and Saint –
1. “She [Mary] it was whom Paul VI presented as the Virgin who listens, the Virgin who prays, the Virgin who begets Christ and offers him for the salvation of the world. May she be your guide along the sometimes difficult but always exhilarating path toward the ideal of complete union with Christ.”
2. “St. Ambrose draws for us the portrait of our Lady, with extraordinary and realistic delicacy, as follows: ‘She was a virgin not only in body, but also in soul; completely lacking in any deceitfulness that stains the sincerity of the spirit; humble in heart; serious in speech; prudent in thought; sparing in words…She put her hope, not in the uncertainty of riches, but in the poor man’s prayer. She was always hard-working, reserved in talk, accustomed to seek God…as judge of her conscience. She did not offend anyone, she loved everyone…she shunned ostentation, followed reason, loved virtue…This is the image of virginity. So perfect was Mary, that her life alone is a rule for everyone.’ (De Virginibus II, 2, 6-7: PL 16, pp. 208-210).”
3. “It is the Virgin Mary who invites us to consider history as an adventure of love in which God keeps his promises and triumphs with his fidelity. A history is which God asks us, as he asked the Virgin, to be his associates, his collaborators, in order to carry out his plan of salvation from generation to generation. This requires that we respond to God, like Mary, with a total and irrevocable ‘fiat.’”
4. “Mary knew that she was to fulfill her virginal desire to give herself exclusively and fully to God precisely by becoming the Mother of God’s Son. Become a Mother by the power of the Holy Spirit was the form taken by her gift of self: a form which God himself expected of the Virgin Mary, who was ‘betrothed’ to Joseph was part of the very plan of God.”
5. “For the kingdom, it is worth living this precious value of Christianity, priestly celibacy, the centuries old-heritage of the Church: it is worth living it in a responsible way, although it calls for a good many sacrifices. Cultivate devotion to Mary, the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, so that she may help you and urge you to carry it out fully.”
Our Lady, Virgin of all Virgins…Pray For Us.