Perpetual virginity of Mary

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The Vladimir Eleusa icon of the Ever Virgin Mary. The Aeiparthenos (Ever Virgin) title is widely used in Eastern Orthodox liturgy.[1]

The perpetual virginity of Mary asserts Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to Jesus the Son of God made Man".[2][3] According to the doctrine, Mary was ever-virgin (Greek: ἀειπάρθενος aeiparthenos) for the whole of her life, making Jesus her only biological son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous.[2][3]

By the fourth century, the doctrine was widely supported by the Church Fathers, and by the seventh century it had been affirmed in a number of ecumenical councils.[4][5][6] The doctrine is part of the teaching of Catholicism and Anglo-Catholics, as well as Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, as expressed in their liturgies, in which they repeatedly refer to Mary as "ever virgin".[7][8][9] The Assyrian Church of the East, which is derived from Church of the East, also accept the perpetual virginity of Mary by titling her the "Ever Virgin", after the "Second Heaven".[10][11][12]

Some early Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther supported the doctrine, and founding figures of Anglicanism such as Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer "followed the tradition that they had inherited by accepting Mary as 'ever virgin'".[13] Reformed teaching, however, largely abandoned it.[14][15] The doctrine of perpetual virginity is currently maintained by some Anglican and Lutheran theologians.[7][16][17][18] In addition, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, affirmed the perpetual virginity of Mary.[19]

Doctrine and representations

Image of Mary depicting her nursing the Infant Jesus. 3rd century, Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome.

The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which is believed de fide (i.e. held by Catholics as being an essential part of faith), states that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth for all her life.[2][3][20] The threefold nature of this doctrine (referring to before, during and after) thus subsumes the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.[2][3][20]

The doctrine of perpetual virginity is also distinct from the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which relates to the conception of the Virgin Mary herself without any stain (macula in Latin) of original sin.[21]

The Greek term Aeiparthenos (i.e. "Ever Virgin") is attested to by Epiphanius of Salamis from the early 4th century.[22] It is widely used in the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church.[23] Eastern Orthodox liturgical prayers typically end with "Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary".[24] The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 499) also includes to the term Aeiparthenos and referring to the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium (item 57) states: "Christ's birth did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it."[25][26][27] The doctrine of perpetual virginity is also held by some Anglican and some Lutheran churches, but not all of those churches endorse the doctrine.[7]

The virginity of Mary at the time of her conception of Jesus is a key topic in Marian art in the Catholic Church, usually represented as the annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel that she would virginally conceive a child to be born the Son of God. Frescos depicting this scene have appeared in Roman Catholic Marian churches for centuries.[28] The oldest fresco of the annunciation is a 4th-century depiction in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.[29]

Mary's virginity even after her conception of Jesus is regularly represented in the Christian art of both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox (as well as in early Western religious art) by including in Nativity scenes the figure of Salome, whom the Gospel of James presents as finding that Mary had preserved her virginity even in giving birth to her son.[30][31] In many icons, Mary's perpetual virginity is signified by three stars that appear on her left, her right, and above her or on her head, which represent her virginity before, during and after giving birth.[32][33]

Development of the doctrine

Early Church

Artistic representation of Mary's virginity even after giving birth to Jesus, as recounted in the Protoevangelium of James

As of the second century, interest developed within the early Church regarding the conception of Jesus and the virginity of Mary.[34] The majority of early Christian writers accepted the virginal conception of Jesus via reliance on the accounts in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, yet, the focus of these early discussions was of virginity before birth, not during or afterwards.[34][35]

The interpretation of the Matthew 1:25 statement that Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" and of the various New Testament mentions of the brothers (and sisters) of Jesus is discussed below under the heading "Scripture". The "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, and the "James, the Lord's brother", mentioned in Galatians 1:19, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James", mentioned by Josephus[36] were thus interpreted by many texts as not being children of Mary. The use of the word "brother" in Scripture is, in addition, not only used to refer to biological brothers but also to relatives (Genesis 14:14, 29:15), close friends (2 Samuel 1:26, 1 Kings 9:13) or even allies (Amos 1:9).

A second-century document that paid special attention to Mary’s virginity was originally known as the Nativity of Mary, but later became known as the Protoevangelium of James.[3][37] The document tells of Mary’s virginity before giving birth, the miraculous way in which she gave birth, and her physical virginity even after giving birth.[38][39][40] The work also claims that Jesus' "brothers" and "sisters"[41] are Joseph’s children from a marriage previous to his union with Mary.[42] However, this text does not explicitly assert Mary's perpetual virginity after the birth of Jesus.

There was no full consensus on the doctrine of perpetual virginity within the early Church by the end of the second century, e.g. Tertullian (c.160 – c.225) did not teach the doctrine (although he taught virgin birth), but Irenaeus (c.130 – c.202) taught perpetual virginity, along with other Marian themes.[35] Origen (185-254) was emphatic on the issue of the brothers of Jesus, and stated that he believed them to have been the children of Joseph from a previous marriage.[43] However, wider support for the doctrine began to appear within the next century.[35]

Some writers from 4th century, Helvidius and Eunomius of Cyzicus (one of the Arians leaders), interpreted Matthew's statement to mean that Joseph and Mary did have normal marital relations after Jesus' birth, and that James, Joses, Jude, and Simon were the biological sons of Mary and Joseph, a view held by Helvidius and Eunomius.[44] Helvidius appealed to the authority of Tertullian against the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, to which Jerome (c.340-419) replied that Tertullian was "not a man of the church."[45] Basil of Caesarea denied Eunomius' view since Basil sees Matthew 1:25 as evidence for, not against, Mary’s perpetual virginity.[44]

By the 4th century, the doctrine of perpetual virginity had been well attested.[46] For example, references can be found in the 3rd century writings of Hippolytus of Rome, who called Mary "the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption," [47] and the 4th century works of Athanasius,[48] Epiphanius,[49] Hilary,[50] Didymus,[51] Ambrose,[52] Jerome,[53] and Siricius[54] continued the attestations to perpetual virginity  – a trend that gathered pace in the next century.[4][5]

Church Fathers and the Middle Ages

The Church Fathers in an 11th-century depiction from Kiev

John Chrysostom (347–407) defended perpetual virginity on a number of grounds, one of which was Jesus' commands to his mother in Calvary: "Woman, behold your son!" and to his disciple "Behold, thy mother!" in John 19:26-27.[55][56] Since the second century these two statements of Jesus from the cross had been the basis of reasonings that Mary had no other children and "from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home" because after the deaths of Joseph and Jesus there was no one else to look after Mary, and she had to be entrusted to the disciple.[57][58]

By the time of Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine of Hippo, with the increased emphasis on Marian piety, a wider role for Mary began to appear in the context of the history of salvation.[6] Augustine himself presented a number of arguments in favor of the doctrine of perpetual virginity.[59][60] By the end of the 4th century, Luke 1:34 (How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?) was read as a passage that indicated a "vow of perpetual virginity" on the part of Mary.[6] The Fathers argued that Mary's obfuscation arose since she had already taken the vow to remain a virgin.[61]

The concept of Mary's vow of virginity had already appeared in the Protoevangelium (4:1) which asserted that Mary's mother, Anne, gave Mary as a "virgin of the Lord" in service in the Temple, and that Joseph, a widower, was to serve as her guardian (legal protections for women depended on their having a male protector: father, brother, or, failing that, a husband).[62] Early in the 7th century, in the Short Book on the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary Isidore of Seville connected the Mariological and Christological themes by linking the virginity of Mary to the divinity of Christ in a single line of argument.[63][clarification needed] Another book from the late 6th or early 7th century, "The History of Joseph the Carpenter", presents Jesus as speaking, at the death of Joseph, of Mary as "my mother, virgin undefiled";[64] this writing probably composed in Greek, but surviving only in Coptic and Arabic language translation.[65] The Lateran Council of 649, attended by Maximus the Confessor, explicitly affirmed the teaching of Mary's virginity before, during and after birth.[35] This was further affirmed at the sixth ecumenical council in 680.[4]

Over the centuries the interpretation of Mary as an ever virgin bride of the Lord who had taken a vow of perpetual chastity spread and was in full vogue by the time of Rupert of Deutz in the 12th century.[6] By the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas had fashioned long and detailed theological arguments in defense of the doctrine and stated that a denial of the perpetual virginity of Mary would be derogatory to the perfection of Christ, an insult to the Holy Spirit, and an affront to the dignity of the Mother of God.[66][67]

Mary, the Second Eve

As of the fourth century, in discussing God's plan of salvation, a parallel theme began to appear in which Mary's obedience (be it unto me according to thy word in Luke 1:38) and the doctrine of perpetual virginity were counter-positioned against Adam and Eve, just as Jesus' obedience was counter positioned against that of Adam in Romans 5:12-21.[6][35]

The concept of Mary as the Second Eve was first introduced by Justin Martyr around 155 AD.[68] In this perspective, which was discussed in detail by Irenaeus, supported by Jerome, and then grew further, the vow of obedience and virginity of Mary positioned her as the "Second Eve" as part of the plan of salvation, just as Jesus was positioned as the Second Adam.[6][35]

The theme developed by the Church Fathers ran parallel to the theme developed by Apostle Paul in Romans 5:19 when he compared Adam's sin with the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father: "For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous."[69] In the same manner, Mary's obedience to the statements of the angel, and her adherence to her vow of perpetual virginity was seen as a remedy for the damage caused by Eve.[70]

The Second Eve teaching continued to grew among Catholics, and in discussing perpetual virginity, the 1566 Catechism of the Council of Trent explicitly taught that while Eve by believing the serpent brought malediction on the human race, Mary by believing the angel brought benediction to mankind.[47][71]

The concept of the Second Eve has continued to remain part of Catholic teachings, e.g. Pope Pius XII referred to it in the encyclical Mystici corporis Christi and Pope John Paul II referred to it in a General Audience at the Vatican in 1980.[72][73]

Protestant Reformation

The start of the Protestant Reformation at the beginning of the 16th century did not immediately bring about a rejection of the doctrine of perpetual virginity and several leaders of the Reformation provided varying degrees of support for it, at times without directly endorsing it.[74][75]

The early Protestant reformers felt that Scripture explicitly required the acceptance of the virgin birth of Jesus, but only permitted the acceptance of perpetual virginity.[76] Over time, some Protestant churches stopped teaching the doctrine and other Protestant churches even denied it.[14][15] However, many believers in other Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church, continue to uphold the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.[16]

Early reformers

Martin Luther believed that Mary did not have other children and did not have any marital relations with Joseph. The Latin text of the 1537 Smalcald Articles, written by Martin Luther, used the term "Ever Virgin" to refer to Mary.[74] The perpetual virginity of Mary was Luther's lifelong belief, even after he rejected other Marian doctrines except "Mother of God".[74][77][78][79]

Huldrych Zwingli directly supported perpetual virginity and wrote: "I firmly believe that [Mary], ... forever remained a pure, intact Virgin."[80] Like Zwingli, the English reformers also supported the concept of perpetual virginity, but often varied on their reasons for the support.[75] Luther and Zwingli's support of perpetual virginity was endorsed by Heinrich Bullinger and was included in the 1566 Second Helvetic Confession.[81]

John Calvin "was less clear-cut than Luther on Mary's perpetual virginity but undoubtedly favored it".[75] He cautioned against what he thought as "impious speculation" on the topic.[81] In his commentary of Luke 1:34, he rejected as "unfounded and altogether absurd" the idea that Mary had made a vow of perpetual virginity, saying that "She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God" and adding that there is no evidence of the existence of such vows at the time.[82] Though celibacy or abstinence within marriage life was not unknown in Jewish tradition in response to God's command and participation in His service.[83][84] In the Commentary on a Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, Calvin rejected the argument based on the mention in Scripture of brothers of Jesus that Mary had other children.[85]

The Anglican reformers of the 16th and 17th century, such as Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer,[13] supported perpetual virginity "on the basis of ancient Christian authority".[74] In the 18th century, John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, also supported the doctrine and wrote that: "... born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."[74][86][87]

Later Protestant teachings

Diarmaid MacCulloch, a historian of the Reformation, wrote that the reason why the early reformers upheld Mary’s perpetual virginity was that she was "the guarantee of the Incarnation of Christ", a teaching that was being denied by the same radicals that were denying Mary’s perpetual virginity.[88] However, the absence of conclusive Biblical statements expressing the doctrine, in combination with the principle of sola scriptura and together with the tendency to associate veneration of Mary with idolatry, kept references to the doctrine out of the Reformation creeds,[89] Those, and the rejection of clerical celibacy,[90] led to the eventual denial of this doctrine among many Protestants, who took the "brothers" (ἀδελφοί) οf Jesus mentioned in the New Testament to be most naturally children of Mary, and thus made it hard to answer the question why Jesus committed His mother to John (John 19:26-27) with assumption that Mary still have other biological children.[91]

However, some conservative Lutheran scholars such as Franz Pieper (1852–1931) refused to follow the tendency among Nonconformist Protestants to insist that Mary and Joseph had marital relations and children after the birth of Jesus. It is implicit in his Christian Dogmatics that belief in Mary's perpetual virginity is the older and traditional view among Lutherans.[92] He stated, that "we should simply hold that (Mary) remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity".[93] He taught that "Christ, our Saviour, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that"; and that " Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers".[94] Against this view Vincent Taylor points out that if they were actually cousins the word 'adelphoi' (brothers), was unnecessary linguistically, because the word 'anepsios' (cousin, as in Col 4:10) "lay ready to hand", and inappropriate metaphorically, because they were opposed to Jesus' ministry.[95] Though the word 'anepsios' could also be used to call nephew or niece.[96][97] However, as cited by Eusebius in Historia Ecclesiastica (III.39.14), Jesus and Matthew's native language was not Greek, but Aramaic (as in Matthew 27:46; Mark 5:41, 15:34) which does not possess any words exclusively meaning "cousin",[98] further complicating translation moreover if only relied on what is written in Scripture.

Many current Protestant churches teach the virgin birth of Jesus, without teaching that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life.[14][15] But some Protestants are becoming more open to Mariology, especially after the Second Vatican Council, marked by formation of the Ecumenical Society of Our Lady in 1967.[14]


The New Testament refers to Jesus' brothers and sisters; they are mentioned in such verses as Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55, John 7:3, Acts 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 9:5[99] and include James, Joses (the form in Mark 6:3, but "Joseph" in Matthew 13:55), Simon, and Jude. Prima facie these verses argue against Mary's perpetual virginity, but there are possible explanations which lead to the conclusion that "it cannot be said that the NT identifies [Jesus' brothers and sisters] without doubt as blood brothers and sisters and hence as children of Mary".[100][101]

Cousins, siblings, half-brothers?

In relation to Mark 6:3 Jerome, "apparently voicing the general opinion of the Church" about the perpetual virginity of Mary in opposition to the view put forward in about 382 by Helvidius that they were children of Joseph and Mary,[99] proposed that they were cousins of Jesus, the sons of Mary the wife of Clopas and sister of the Virgin. This new view, "strongly coloured by [Jerome's] belief in the perpetual virginity, [is] almost universally rejected except by Roman Catholic scholars".[102] The view with most support in the Fathers, and with some support in modern writers such as Lightfoot, is that of Epiphanius: they were children of Joseph by an earlier marriage, the view generally accepted among Eastern Christians.[99] A more recent hypothesis is that they were children of Cleopas, a brother of Joseph according to Hegesippus, and of "Mary, the mother of James and Joses" seen as sister-in-law, not blood sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus.[99]

Leon Morris said that, in relation to 1 Cor 9:5, the "most natural interpretation is that [the un-named "brothers of the Lord"] were the children of Joseph and Mary".[103] C K Barrett agrees, arguing that this passage is "most naturally taken to refer to sons of Mary and Joseph", however he allows that they are "conceivably ... sons of Joseph by a former wife".[104] The concept, that they were the children of Joseph and Mary, is very likely rooted from Helvidius' view as written by Vincent Taylor. And according to Taylor supported by Helvidius, who cites Tertullian, and by "many modern scholars", he considers this view as "the simplest and most natural" one.[102]

Karl Keating argues against this; in his book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" he notes that Helvidius was the first Christian on record to claim that Mary had children. In his treatise on the perpetual virginity, Jerome referred to Helvidius's theory as "novel, wicked, and a daring affront to the faith of the whole world". "This [judging by Jerome's reaction] was an entirely new interpretation, one nobody had ventured before," says Keating, "and it was beneath contempt". Helvidius was unable to find an answer to the defence made by Jerome, and his views did not resurface until modern times. In his treatise, Jerome cited Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyons among others. The two Church Fathers whom Helvidius quoted in support of his claim were Tertullian and Victorinus, but Jerome claimed this was no support at all, since Tertullian was a Montanist and the writings of Victorinus turned out to have been misinterpreted.[105] Elsewhere Keating defends Jerome's hypothesis and concludes from the various Scripture passages referring to the women at the foot of the Cross that James and Joseph must be the sons of Cleophas, as the "other Mary" referred to in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 must be Mary the wife of Cleophas referred to in John 19:25. He counters an argument that James is elsewhere called the son of Alphaeus (Mt. 10:3) by explaining that Cleophas and Alphaeus are simply different renderings of the same name in the Jewish and Greek languages, like Saul and Paul.[106]

The Protoevangelium of James states that the brothers of Jesus were his stepbrothers from a previous marriage of Joseph, and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew states that they were his cousins.[107] Protestant historian Paul L. Maier accepts the view that James the Just was not the biological son of Mary but instead her stepson.[108] The renowned English historian Richard Bauckham writes "No NT text offers any further real evidence on this point, but the idea that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were children of Joseph by a previous marriage is found in three second-century Christian works (the Protevangelium of James, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter), which probably all derived from Syria. It looks as though this was an early second-century Syrian Christian tradition" and moreover notes that "Reliable tradition about prominent early Christian leaders like the Lord's brothers could still have been available at this time and place."[109]


Matthew 1:25 states that Joseph had no marital relations with Mary "until" (ἕως οὗ ) she had borne Jesus. Writers such as R.V. Tasker[110] and D. Hill[111] argue that this implies that Mary and Joseph had customary marital relations after the birth of Jesus. Others, such as K. Beyer, point out that Greek ἕως οὗ after a negative "often has no implication at all about what happened after the limit of the 'until' was reached",[112] and Raymond E. Brown observes that "the immediate context favors a lack of future implication here, for Matthew is concerned only with stressing Mary's virginity before the child's birth".[112] Karl Keating points out that if the modern usage of the word "until" is forced on passages such as 2 Samuel 6:23, Genesis 8:7, and Deuteronomy 34:6 , "some ridiculous meanings result";[113] also, when Jesus is lost in the Temple (Luke 2: 41-51), the text makes no mention of other children in the family. He notes that Jesus's "brothers" are never referred to as Mary's sons even when Jesus is referred to as "the son of Mary," and he also argues that in Jewish culture younger brothers never rebuked, or even advised, their elders, for it was considered great disrespect to do so,[114] yet Jesus's brethren are shown doing just that on several occasions (John 7:3-4, Mark 3:21).

The Annunciation, by Francesco Albani. "How can this be, for I know not man?", Luke 1:34

On this point, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, wrote "one cannot from these words [Matt. 1:18, 25] conclude that Mary, after the birth of Christ, became a wife in the usual sense; it is therefore neither to be asserted nor believed." [115]

The Annunciation

Gregory of Nyssa interpreted Mary's response to the angel, when told that she will conceive ("How will this be, since I am a virgin?) as indicating that Mary had taken a lifelong vow of virginity, even in marriage: "For if Joseph had taken her to be his wife, for the purpose of having children, why would she have wondered at the announcement of maternity, since she herself would have accepted becoming a mother according to the law of nature?".[116] Howard Marshall rejects this view outright: "It is impossible to see how the text can yield this meaning".[117] Taylor shares Howard Marshall's view and points to Lightfoot's acknowledgement that the expressions used here and in Luke 2:7 "would have been avoided by writers who believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary".[118] Raymond E. Brown observes that "the immediate context favors a lack of future implication here, for Matthew is concerned only with stressing Mary's virginity before the child's birth",[119] and finds Gregory of Nyssa's view implausible.[120]

Keating defends Gregory of Nyssa and says, "There is no reason to assume Mary was wholly ignorant of the rudiments of biology. She presumably knew the normal way in which children are conceived. If she anticipated having children and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask "how" she was to have a child, since having a child the normal way would be expected by a newlywed".[121] Scott Hahn says the Dead Sea Scrolls give evidence that celibacy was a common practice of some Israelite sects, thus it does make sense that Mary could have vowed perpetual virginity before the incident of Annunciation.[122]

Woman behold your son!. A Stabat Mater depiction by Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1400

Woman, behold your son!

A passage used to support the doctrine of perpetual virginity is of the sayings of Jesus on the cross, i.e. the pair of commands first to his mother "Woman, behold your son!" and then to his disciple "Behold, thy mother!" in John 19:26-27.[57][58][123] The Gospel of John then states that "from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home". Since the time of the Church Fathers this statement has been used to reason that after the death of Jesus there was no one else in the immediate family to look after Mary, and she had to be entrusted to the disciple given that she had no other children.[57][58][123] This passage was one of the arguments Pope John Paul II presented in support of perpetual virginity.[58][124][125] John Paul II also reasoned that the command "Behold your son!" was not simply the entrustment of Mary to the disciple, but also the entrustment of the disciple to Mary in order to fill the maternal gap left by the death of her only son on the cross.[126][127] Taylor points out difficulties in this interpretation of the text: it ignores both the fact that Jesus 'brothers' opposed his claims, and the position of honour of John, the 'beloved disciple'.[95] However, it seems strange and remarkably out of character, says Keating, that Jesus would have gone out of his way to disregard family ties and commit a grave dishonor to his brothers by entrusting their mother to another man. "It is hard to imagine why Jesus would have disregarded family ties and made this provision for his Mother if these four [James, Joseph, Simon and Jude] were also her sons".[105]:284

Islamic perspective

In Sura 19 (Maryam),[128] the Qur'an declares that Jesus was the result of a virgin conception (verses 20-22). There is no clear doctrinal belief one way or another, but some extend this to mean the perpetual virginity of Mary.[129][130][131][132][133]

See also


  1. What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 168 [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 56-64
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 page 273
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Blackwell Companion to Catholicism by James Buckley, Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt, Trent Pomplun 2010 ISBN 1-4443-3732-7 page 315
  5. 5.0 5.1 The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1995 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 271
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 pages 278-281
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions by Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1999 ISBN 0-87779-044-2 page 1134
  8. Catechism of the Catholic Church §499
  9. Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Coptic Liturgy of St Basil, Liturgy of St Cyril, Liturgy of St James, Understanding the Orthodox Liturgy etc.
  10. W.A. Wigram, M.A., D.D., An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church (PDF), Assyrian International News Agency (retrieved from, p. 88CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. William McLoughlin, Jill Pinnock (2002), Mary for Earth and Heaven, Gracewing Publishing, p. 326, ISBN 9780852445563<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, "Mary in the Catholic-Assyrian Dialogue: An Assyrian Perspective", Centro Pro Unione N.54 - Fall 1998 (PDF), p. 8, ISSN 1122-0384<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Timothy Bradshaw, "Commentary and Study Guide on the Seattle Statement Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission").
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 170-171
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Christian confessions: a historical introduction by Ted Campbell, 1996 ISBN 0-664-25650-3 page 47
  16. 16.0 16.1 Longenecker, Dwight; Gustafson, David (2003). Mary: A Catholic Evangelical Debate. Gracewing Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9780852445822. Retrieved 8 July 2014. The perpetual virginity of Mary is a beautiful and fitting belief upheld by the Eastern Orthodox as well as many Anglicans and Lutherans. Furthermore, it was defended not only by the ancient church fathers, but by Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and the classic Anglican theologians. John Wesley also believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, writing, "I believe he [Jesus Christ] was born of the blessed Virgin, who, as well after she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Richard R. Lorsch, All the People in the Bible (Eerdmans 2008 ISBN 978-0-80282454-7), p. 283
  18. Jackson, Gregory Lee, Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant: a doctrinal comparison. 1993 ISBN 978-0-615-16635-3 page 254
  19. Holden, Harrington William (1872). John Wesley in Company with High Churchmen. London: J. Hodges. p. 119. TIn his profession of faith Wesley includes the Perpetual Virginity of " the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted Virgin." xix 6. (1749.) |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Vatican website Catechism of the Catholic Church item 499
  21. A history of the church in the Middle Ages by F. Donald Logan, 2002, ISBN 0-415-13289-4, p150
  22. Joseph, Mary, Jesus by Lucien Deiss, Madeleine Beaumont 1996 ISBN 0-8146-2255-0 page 30
  23. The image of the Virgin Mary in the Akathistos hymn by Leena Mari Peltomaa 2001 ISBN 90-04-12088-2 page 127
  24. Eastern Orthodoxy through Western eyes by Donald Fairbairn 2002 ISBN 0-664-22497-0 page 100
  25. Catechism of the Catholic Church by the Vatican, 2002 ISBN 0-86012-324-3 page 112
  26. Vatican website: Catechism item 499
  27. Vatican website: Lumen gentium item 57
  28. Annunciation Art, Phaidon Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7148-4447-0
  29. The Annunciation to Mary by Eugene Laverdiere 2007 ISBN 1-56854-557-6 page 29
  30. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography by Helene E. Roberts 1998 ISBN 1-57958-009-2 page 904
  31. Treasures from the Ark: 1700 Years of Armenian Christian Art by Vrej Nersessian 2001 ISBN 0-7123-4699-6 page 167
  32. Heroes of the icon: people, places, events by Steven Bigham 1998 ISBN 1-879038-91-9 page 47
  33. The icon handbook by David Coomler 1995 ISBN 0-87243-210-6 page 203
  34. 34.0 34.1 "The Theme of Mary's Virginity", in Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 pages 267-277
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 Karl Rahner (2004), Encyclopedia of theology: a concise Sacramentum mundi, pp. 896–897, ISBN 0-86012-006-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Josephus, Antiquities, book 20, chapter 9
  37. L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 35.
  38. Protoevangelium of James (M.R. James translation), XIX-XX
  39. L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 40.
  40. Quasten, Patrology 1:120-1.
  41. Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3
  42. Protoevangelium chapters 7–8.
  43. The Westminster handbook to Origen by John Anthony McGuckin 2004 ISBN 0-664-22472-5 page 150
  44. 44.0 44.1 Mark DelCogliano (2012), Tradition and Polemic in Basil of Caesarea’s Homily on the Teophany, Vigiliae Christianae 66, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden (retrieved from, pp. 40–43<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Tertullian, Treatises on marriage and remarriage: - Page 160 ed. T. C. Lawler, Walter J. Burghardt - 1951 "Helvidius appealed to the authority of Tertullian in his attack on the Church's doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity, ... I have nothing else to say except that he was not a man of the Church (Ecclesiae hominem ,non fuisse)."
  46. L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991) pp. 97-98; and also for an overview of each source.
  47. 47.0 47.1 This Is the Faith by Francis J. Ripley 1973 ISBN 0-85244-678-0 page 264
  48. Athanasius, Orations against the Arians 2.70
  49. Epiphanius of Salamis, The Man Well-Anchored 120, c.f. Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 78:6
  50. Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary on Matthew §1:4
  51. Didymus the Blind, The Trinity 3:4
  52. Ambrose of Milan, Letters 63:111
  53. Jerome, Against Helvetius, 21
  54. Denziger §91
  55. Mary for evangelicals: toward an understanding of the mother of our Lord by Tim S. Perry, William J. Abraham 2006 ISBN 0-8308-2569-X, pages 153-154
  56. John 11-21 by Joel C. Elowsky 2007 ISBN 0-8308-1099-4 page 318
  57. 57.0 57.1 57.2 Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons ISBN 978-1-57918-355-4 pages 308-309
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3 Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 62-63
  59. Augustine through the ages: an encyclopedia by John C. Cavadini 1999 ISBN 0-8028-3843-X page 544
  60. St. Augustine, Faith, Hope & Charity By J. Kuasten, Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.) 1978 ISBN 0-8091-0045-2 page 126
  61. Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 page 114
  62. Protoevangelium of James 4, 7, 8-9, 15
  63. The History of Theology: Middle Ages by Giulio D'Onofrio, Basil Studer 2008 ISBN 0-8146-5916-0 page 38
  64. Saint Joseph: His Life and His Role in the Church Today by Louise Bourassa Perrotta 2000 ISBN 0-87973-573-2 page 86
  65. Bart D. Ehrman, Zlatko Pleše (2011), The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations, Oxford University Press, p. 158<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  66. Aquinas on doctrine: a critical introduction by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 ISBN 0-567-08411-6 page 95
  67. The Westminster handbook to Thomas Aquinas by Joseph Peter Wawrykow 2005 ISBN 0-664-22469-5 page 91
  68. What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 185
  69. An exposition of the epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians by Jean Daille 1995 ISBN 0-8028-2511-7 pages 194-195
  70. Blessed one: Protestant perspectives on Mary Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Cynthia L. Rigby 2002 ISBN 0-664-22438-5 page 64
  71. The Catechism of the Council of Trent Translated Into English by Theodore Alois Buckley, ISBN 1-112-53771-6 pages 45-46 (Article III, Chapter VI, Question IX) [2]
  72. Varican website: Mystici corporis Christi
  73. Vatican website: Pope John Paul II General Audience March 12, 1980
  74. 74.0 74.1 74.2 74.3 74.4 Christian confessions: a historical introduction by Ted Campbell 1996 ISBN 0-664-25650-3 page 150
  75. 75.0 75.1 75.2 Encyclopedia of the Reformed faith by Donald K. McKim, David F. Wright 1992 ISBN 0-664-21882-2 page 237
  76. Reformation of church and dogma (1300-1700) by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, 1985, ISBN 0-226-65377-3, p339
  77. Luther's Works, 22:214-215
  78. "Sermon on the Presentation of Christ in the Temple", Luthers Werke 52:688- 99,quoted in Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary through the Ages, 158, and Martin Luther's Theology of Mary
  79. Luther's Works, 21:326, cf. 21:346.
  80. Zwingli, Ulrich; Egli, Emil; Finsler, Georg; Zwingli-Verein, Georg; Zürich (1905). "Eini Predigt von der ewig reinen Magd Maria.". Huldreich Zwinglis sämtliche Werke (in German). 1. C. A. Schwetschke und Sohn. p. 385. Retrieved 2008-07-01.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  81. 81.0 81.1 Blessed one: Protestant perspectives on Mary by Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Cynthia L. Rigby 2002 ISBN 0-664-22438-5 page 119
  82. Calvin. "Commentary on Luke 1:34". Harmony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke vol. 1. Full statement: "The conjecture which some have drawn from these words ['How shall this be, since I know not a man?'], that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God. Although the Papists have exercised barbarous tyranny on this subject, yet they have never proceeded so far as to allow the wife to form a vow of continence at her own pleasure. Besides, it is an idle and unfounded supposition that a monastic life existed among the Jews."
  83. Br. Anthony Opisso, M.D., Perpetual Virginity of Mary, Association of Hebrew Catholics (retrieved from CIN)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  84. Harvey McArthur (Summer 1987), "Celibacy in Judaism at the Time of Christian Beginnings", Andrews University Seminary Studies (PDF), Vol. 25, No. 2, Andrews University Press, p. 172<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  85. Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949: “The word brothers, we have formerly mentioned, is employed, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, to denote any relatives whatever; and, accordingly, Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ’s brothers are sometimes mentioned.” (vol. 2, p. 215); “[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.“ (vol. I, p. 107)
  86. The works of the Rev. John Wesley, Volume 15 by John Wesley, Joseph Benson, Published by Thomas Cordeux, London, 1812, "A Letter to a Roman Catholic" page 110 [3]
  87. Letter to a Roman Catholic, July 18, 1749
  88. D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 613-614; cf. Robert Schihl, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary for an extended list and quotations.
  89. D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 558-63
  90. see John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion IV,12,27-28
  91. See, e.g., Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown. "Commentary on Matthew 13:56". Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Whole Bible. Retrieved 2009-01-07. An exceedingly difficult question here arises—What were these 'brethren' and 'sisters' to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or, Thirdly, Were they cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed. For the second opinion there is no ground but a vague tradition, arising probably from the wish for some such explanation. The first opinion undoubtedly suits the text best in all the places where the parties are certainly referred to (Mt 12:46; and its parallels, Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; our present passage, and its parallels, Mr 6:3; Joh 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Ac 1:14). But, in addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, thinking it in the last degree improbable that our Lord, when hanging on the cross, would have committed His mother to John if He had had full brothers of His own then alive, prefer the third opinion; although, on the other hand, it is not to be doubted that our Lord might have good reasons for entrusting the guardianship of His doubly widowed mother to the beloved disciple in preference even to full brothers of His own. Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  92. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 4 vols., (St. Louis: CPH, 1950-53), 2:308-09.
  93. "Scripture does not quibble or speak about the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ, a matter about which the hypocrites are greatly concerned, as if it were something of the utmost importance on which our whole salvation depended. Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity... But the Scripture stops with this, that she was a virgin before and at the birth of Christ; for up to this point God had need of her virginity in order to give us the promised blessed seed without sin" (That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew (1523), in Luther’s Works, American Edition, Walther I. Brandt, ed., Philadelphia, Augsburg Fortress; St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1962, ISBN 0-8006-0345-1 pp. 205-206; cf. James Swam (Martin Luther's Theology of Mary[full citation needed]).
  94. Luther's Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539), quoted in Martin Luther on Mary's Perpetual Virginity[full citation needed]
  95. 95.0 95.1 Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark, 1952, MacMillan, London. p248
  96. M. Miller (1953), "Greek Kinship Terminology", The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 73, Cambridge University Press, pp. 46–52, doi:10.2307/628235, JSTOR 628235<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  100. Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph Fitzmyer and John Reumann ed., Mary in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978 ISBN 978-0-80912168-7), p. 72
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  116. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Generation of Christ, 5.
  117. (Howard Marshall, I., The Gospel of Luke (Paternoster Press 1978), p. 68);
  118. Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark, 1952, MacMillan, London, p249
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  127. Vatican website: Pope John Paul II's General Audience of 28 April 1997 reprinted in L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 30 April 1997, page 11
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External links

  • St. Jerome, "The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary - Against Helvidius", in Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6, Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley (1893 ed.), Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co. (retrieved from New Advent)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>