consecrated virgin

consecrated virgin.jpg

We have been used to the idea of nuns taking the veil and becoming brides of Christ, but we need to go back to the practices of the early Church to get an understanding of this new role of the consecrated virgin.

 The marriage rite practised by the early Christians involved placing a large piece of white veiling over the couple as they received the nuptial blessing. Since a virgin was seen as being married to Christ, the virgin was also covered with a large cloth as she lay prostrate on the floor to take her vows. 

 Mostly the marriage to Christ also involved removing oneself from the world, that is, joining a religious order and entering a convent. But in 1970 Pope Paul VI revived the notion of a consecrated virgin who did not withdraw from the world but continued to live in it while undertaking good works. 

 Listening to a consecrated virgin discuss her way of life, I felt that it suited strong-minded women who didn’t want to part with their autonomy and become the obedient follower of a Mother Superior, who enjoyed being actively engaged with both work and recreation, and who felt that they could follow their vocation while doing all these things. The modern virgin. Even the bishop, while notionally in charge of the virgins, hardly directed their activities so they retained a lot of independence.  Possibly Jesus might get a word in, but he had better be prepared for his injunctions to be questioned.

SocietySue ButlerComment