Discussion on the Blessed Virgin’s Vow of Virginity in relation to her Espousal to St. Joseph

February 12, 2022 • 3 min

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, page 119
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

And now the question occurs, did Mary, whose ardent desire it was to devote all her days to the service of God, and who, moreover, had consecrated to Him her virginity by vow, when made aware that it was the purpose of her tutors and governors, the doctors and priests of the Temple, to give her in marriage, allege as an obstacle the solemn promise she had made?

Some, and among them ranks Canon Antonio Vitali, are of opinion that she did so, and would certainly have confided her dismay to her near relative, Zachary, who, as we know from the Gospel, took his regular turn of officiating in the solemn service of the Temple; indeed, he seems to take for granted that she had made her vow with his cognisance and sanction; but, as he does not allege any authority or tradition in favour of this view, we are at full liberty to form our own judgment in the matter.

Objections will not unnaturally suggest themselves. As such a vow appears to have been without precedent amongst the maidens of Israel, it is difficult to imagine how Zachary, unless he were divinely illuminated, would have advised or sanctioned it. In the absence, therefore, of all light upon the subject, we are free to believe that Mary’s promise to God, having been formed through the immediate inspiration of her inward Guide and Director, her secret also by the same dictation remained between herself and God.1

Her silence on other occasions of an analogous kind would lead us to this conclusion: My secret to myself". [Isaias xxiv. 16.]

But whichever view may approve itself to the mind, it is certain that the Ancilla Domini would have been prepared to submit to the will of Him who had prompted the vow, as signified to her by those whose authority over her made them His representatives in her regard.

Moreover, she would feel persuaded that He would know how to guard the treasure committed to His keeping; and we are encouraged in this conviction by the testimony of saints and saintly persons, who have asserted that the Blessed Virgin herself had told them that she was assured by divine revelation that her virginity would not be endangered by her espousals.

We have here been speaking exclusively of her actual vow of virginity, but there can be little, if any; doubt that the priests and guardians of Mary knew that her own desire would have been to dedicate herself to God in His Temple for the remainder of her days.

1 We are glad to find that in this view we have the concurrence of F. Coleridge in his admirable work, The Mother of the King.

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