Ever Virginity of Mary

by Steve Ray on December 2, 2008

This morning I did a show with Sean Herriott on Morning Air with Relevant Radio. We discussed the ever-virginity of Mary. I promised to make available some of the resources I used. So here they are.

1) In Numbers 30 vows taken by married women showing that a pledge to abstain from sexual relations even within a marriage was not unheard of, even provided for in the Old Testament.

2) St. Jerome against Helvedius from around 380 AD. Helvedius dared to question the ever-virginity of Mary suggesting she had other children. St. Jerome blasts Hevedius and demonstrates the mind of the early Christians.

3) Catholic Answers documents: The Fathers on Mary’s Ever-virginity; The “Brethren of the Lord”

4) St. Thomas Aquinas with the reasons why Mary’s ever-virginity is affirmed by the Church.

5) The Perpetual Virginity of Mary by Bro. Anthony Opisso, M.D.

Of course there are many more but this is a beginning.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara December 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Here’s another interesting article on EWTN’s web site library:


David August 8, 2009 at 1:54 AM

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” The people were confused. Where did Jesus get such knowledge? After all, we are from His home town (His ‘literal’ home town). We know His father the carpenter (His ‘literal’ father). We know His mother, Mary (His ‘literal’ mother). We know His brothers and hey … His sisters still live here also. It seems to me that we sure have to bend the scriptures quite a bit to twist the meaning of this text to make Jesus’ brothers and sisters anything less then His ‘literal’ brothers and sisters (as is the case with His ‘literal’ home town, Father and Mother). Yes?


They we confused — not knowing where he got the power and the knowledge — because they did not really understand who he was. They were looking at him “literally” without the full spiritual knowledge of the full picture.

I would say you have made several assumptions here which, though sounding feasible on the surface, actually show a confusion much the same as that experienced by the folks in Nazareth.

First, was Joseph his literal father? No. Joseph was an adoptive, legal father, not a literal father. Jesus was born of a virgin without an earthly father. Had the people of Nazareth known the “literal” father they would understand where Jesus received his power and knowledge.

Second, was Nazareth his “literal” home town, ultimate place of origin? No. Jesus is actually an “alien” not from Nazareth but from heaven. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world”, and we all know where he was literally from, not Nazareth but heaven.

The only literal here is his mother but even then the villagers did not know who and why he was her son, so again they would be confused as to who and what he really was.

Not to the “literal” brothers and sisters. Your syllogism has already fallen flat but I will still deal with the faulty conclusions you arrived at.

First, let me suggest why you read the passage the way you do and come to the conclusions you’ve come to. You have bought into a Protestant tradition that is novel in the landscape of Christianity having not taught what you are asserting until the 1500’s. Next, you reject the ancient and constant teaching of the Church (who also had those passages of Scripture at their fingertips but understood them differently) which taught the ever-virginity of Mary. Lastly, you read the passage with modern American eyes and not the eyes of an ancient Middle-Easterner.

The word “brother” and “sister” were used much more loosely in those days, as they are even today in the Middle East. Abraham called his nephew Lot his brother (Gen 14:14, 16). Many in believe that Joseph was a widower with sons and daughters from his previous marriage. One early account of the birth of Christ tells of one of those stepbrothers leading the donkey to Bethlehem! Even today the word “brother” is often used for cousin in the middle east. Those names of the “brothers” of Jesus are also listed in as the sons of another Mary, the wife of Cloepas (Matt 27:56; Jn 19:25).

Pages have been written on this but if you want to hold to Protestant tradition, it is understood why you don’t understand the actual teachings both of Scripture and the culture and language of the time. For example, Jesus should have given his mother into the hands of the “next born” son, the second born — but since there was no other sons of Mary (though their could have been step sons), Jesus gave his mother into the hands of John. This would have not been thinkable had Mary had other sons. I could go on and on, but I don’t have the time.

There are so many other arguments and possibilities is would take too long to elucidate them all here. It has been done many times and Protestants still insist on being “literal” even when it is shown to be the least favorable interpretation and even when they find themselves outside the constant teaching of the Church from the earliest times.

For more, read the short tract found http://www.catholic.com/library/Brethren_of_the_Lord.asp

Terrence December 30, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Thanks for all your hard work and devotion to the true teachings of Jesus and the early Church.
God bless and happy New Year to you and your family!

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