Definition: The tradition that Mary remained celibate her entire life. When the Bible makes mention of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, the Church holds these were actually cousins. Early church writings are used to support doctrines on Mary. The Protoevangelium of James (a pseudepigraphical work written around 150 AD) describes the miraculous birth and early life of Mary. Her mother Anna was barren until her husband fasted for forty days. Then an angel revealed to Anna that she would bear a special child. She gave birth to Mary, dedicating her to serve in the temple at age three. During her time in the temple she was miraculously fed by an angel. But Mary must be removed when she turned twelve – her menstruation would pollute the holy of holies. The high priest Zecharias, seeking someone to keep Mary celibate, summoned the old widowers of Jerusalem. Joseph was chosen when a dove miraculously flew out of his rod and landed on his head. Later, Jesus was born in a cave on the way to Bethlehem. A midwife didn’t believe Mary was a virgin so she poked her finger into Mary’s vagina. Her hand was immediately burned (perhaps reinforcing to Joseph that he refrain from marital relations). After repenting and holding the baby Jesus, the midwife’s finger was miraculously healed.
Definition: The elevation of Mary to cultic status (e.g. her miraculous birth and sinless life, her co-mediation, her reception as queen of heaven, her perpetual virginity) is based on fables and must be rejected (1 Tim. 4:7). These legends detract from the truth of God’s word, leading Catholics away from the simplicity of faith in Christ. Catholicism teaches that Mary is a symbol of the Church. She is the sinless, undefiled mediator; the Church, with its celibate priesthood, is similarly without error and mediates salvation to Catholics.
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Q & A by Dr. Joe Mizzi – The Virginity of Mary