Consecrated virgin


Consecrated virgin
The consecration of Saint Genevieve, 1821 (Ste. Genevieve, Missouri).

In the Catholic Church a consecrated virgin is a woman who has been conscrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity in the service of God. Consecrated virgins are to spend their time in works of penance and mercy, in apostolic activity and in prayer, according to their state of life and spiritual gifts.[1] Consecrated Virgins must not be confused with Consecrated hermits and anchorites, who have a different vocation.[2]

Contents

Historical development

A life of virginity for the sake of Christ and his Church is an ancient form of Christian religious living already mentioned in the New Testament.[3] It preceded the foundation of religious orders. Hence, traditionally a Christian virgin was not a member of a religious community. For a while, after the Middle Ages the rite fell out of practice, but it was formally restored by Pope Paul VI in 1970. This sacramental can be bestowed on women either living in monastic orders or in the world.

As a form of Consecrated Life in the Church today

This form of living a dedicated life was revived by the Second Vatican Council in the mid-20th century.[4] This consecration may now be bestowed on nuns or women living in the world. The 1970 Prænotanda to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity states the following requirements for women living in the world to receive the consecration:

that they have never married or lived in open violation of chastity; that, by their prudence and universally approved character, they give assurance of perseverance in a life of chastity dedicated to the service of the church and of their neighbor; that they be admitted to this Consecration by the Bishop who is the local Ordinary.

The approved liturgical rite whereby the bishop consecrates the candidate is by the solemn rite of Consecratio Virginium (Consecration of Virgins). The usual minister of the rite of consecration is the bishop who is the local Ordinary.[5] Henceforth, the woman is committed, not only to celibacy, but to leading a life of prayer and service, and is obligated to observe the Liturgy of the Hours.[6]

The legislation outlining this was provided in the most recent Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church:

Canon 604
§1. Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins, who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.
§2. In order to observe their commitment more faithfully and to perform by mutual support service to the Church which is in harmony with their state these virgins can form themselves into associations.

Historically the rite has been maintained by nuns in monastic orders, such as the Benedictines and Carthusians. This consecration could be done either concurrently with or some time after their making solemn religious vows. Among Carthusian nuns, there is the unique practice of their then being entitled to the wearing of a stole, a vestment otherwise reserved to clergy, which gives them certain liturgical privileges, mostly used during their reading of the Gospel at Matins.[7] It has been speculated that this is a vestige of the Order of deaconess.

Consecrated virgins belong to consecrated life. They are not supported financially by their bishop, but must provide for their own upkeep. These women work in professions ranging from teachers and attorneys to that of firefighter.[8] Some lead lives of contemplation as hermits. One notable example of the latter is Wendy Beckett, known as "Sister Wendy," a former member of the religious congregation of Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who became a consecrated virgin in 1970, and who, though living as a recluse, has supported herself through her work as a world-famous art critic.

According to the Associated Press,[9] as of 2009, there are about 215 such women living in the United States and 3,000 worldwide.

Noted Christian Virgins

See also

References

  1. ^ Consecration to a life of virginity, praenotanda, Introduction
  2. ^ For the differences between these vocations see the article on Hermits and the definition of the eremitic/anchoritic vocation in canon 603 of The Code of Canon Law 1983, whilst for the canonical definition of the vocation of the Consecrated Virgins see canon 604 of The Code of Canon Law 1983. The two major differences according to church law are that the vocation of the consecrated virgins–-unlike that of consecrated hermits-–is not characterized by the Old Testament Desert Theology, and that consecrated virgins-–again, unlike hermits–-do not publicly profess the Evangelical Counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond, which means that the Consecrated Virgins do not bind themselves according to Church law to observe evangelical poverty and obedience. Consecrated virgins are consecrated by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, whereas the consecrated hermits dedicate themselves through publicly professing the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by a vow or other sacred bond.
  3. ^ denoted by the Greek terms parthenos ("virgin") and agamos ("unmarried"), e.g. 1 Cor 7:34 hē gunē hē agamos kai hē parthenos … ("the unmarried woman and the virgin [cares for the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit]"), Acts 21:9 thugateres tessares parthenoi prophēteuousai ("four unmarried daughters who prophesied"). Reference is made also to "the unmarried" in the masculine, ho agamos, tois agamois, e.g. 1 Cor 7:8, 1 Cor 7:32
  4. ^ It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times. Consecrated by the diocesan Bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world. Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom. ( (cf. "Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata of the Holy Father John Paul II on the Consecrated Life and its Mission in the Church and in the World", Rome, 25 March 1996.
  5. ^ Consecration to a life of virginity, praenotanda Nr. 4. Those who may be consecrated, Nr. 6 The minister of the rite
  6. ^ United States Association of consecrated virgins
  7. ^ http://www.chartreux.org/en/frame.html
  8. ^ http://www.consecratedvirgins.org/about-vocation/elements.asp
  9. ^ http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2009/05/24/the_forever_virgins/

External links

Historical development

Present situation in the Catholic Church

General articles


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Consecrated life (Catholic Church) — St Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 543), who wrote the leading religious rule for monastic living, evokes the Christian roots of Europe , says Pope Benedict XVI. In the Roman Catholic Church, the term consecrated life denotes a stable form of… …   Wikipedia

  • Virgin (disambiguation) — A virgin is someone who has not yet engaged in sexual intercourse. The word can also refer colloquially to someone who has never engaged in any given activity (for example, a surfing virgin ). English language writers have used the word to refer… …   Wikipedia

  • Virgin (title) — The title Virgin is an honorific that has been bestowed by the Roman Catholic Church to certain female saints and blesseds who were either unmarried, nuns, or consecrated virgins. The various titles assigned to saints were used to simplify the… …   Wikipedia

  • Virgin Mary, Presentation of the — ▪ religious festival       feast celebrated in the Roman Catholic and Eastern churches on November 21. Based on a legend contained in the Protevangelium of James, a 2nd century work not included in the Bible, the feast commemorates a visit by the …   Universalium

  • Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic) — Blessed Virgin Mary The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: The Church s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship. [1] Mother of …   Wikipedia

  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin —     Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary     Down to the Council of Nicaea     Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in its ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary —     Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary     Down to the Council of Nicaea     Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in its ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • St Mary the Virgin's Church, Leigh — Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Leigh Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin …   Wikipedia

  • Blessed Virgin —     The Blessed Virgin Mary     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Blessed Virgin Mary     The Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, the mother of God.     In general, the theology and history of Mary the …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Blessed Virgin Mary —     The Blessed Virgin Mary     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Blessed Virgin Mary     The Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, the mother of God.     In general, the theology and history of Mary the Mother of God follow the… …   Catholic encyclopedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.