Virgin (title)

Last updated
Procession of virgin martyrs bearing both martyr's palms and wreaths as the crown of a virgin (master of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, 6th century) Meister von San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna 002.jpg
Procession of virgin martyrs bearing both martyr's palms and wreaths as the crown of a virgin (master of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, 6th century)

The title Virgin (Latin Virgo, Greek Παρθένος) is an honorific bestowed on female saints and blesseds in both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.


Chastity is one of the seven virtues in Christian tradition, listed by Pope Gregory I at the end of the 6th century. In 1 Corinthians, Saint Paul suggests a special role for virgins or unmarried women (ἡ γυνὴ καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἡ ἄγαμος) as more suitable for "the things of the Lord" (μεριμνᾷ τὰ τοῦ κυρίου). [1] In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul alludes to the metaphor of the Church as Bride of Christ by addressing the congregation "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ".

In the theology of the Church Fathers, the prototype of the sacred virgin is Mary, the mother of Jesus, consecrated by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation. [2] Although not stated in the gospels, the perpetual virginity of Mary was widely upheld as a dogma by the Church Fathers from the 4th century.

Virgin martyrs

Saint Euphemia with the crown of a virgin, a white lily and the martyr's palm (Andrea Mantegna, 1454) Mantegna, santa eufemia, capodimonte.jpg
Saint Euphemia with the crown of a virgin, a white lily and the martyr's palm (Andrea Mantegna, 1454)

In the hagiography of Christian martyrs of the late 1st to early 4th centuries, virgin martyrs (Latin virgo et martyr, Greek παρθένος-μάρτυρας, Russian дева-мученица) are Christian virgins, often persecuted for their refusal to enter a worldly marriage after having vowed to keep their virginity for the sake of heaven. Diffent martyrologies (for example the Martyrologium Romanum or the Martyrologium Hieronymianum) list early virgin martyrs, some of which are also named in the Canon of the Mass:

Post-Nicean Virgin martyrs:

Consecrated virgins

The tradition of the rite of the Consecratio virginum (consecration of a virgin) dates back to the 4th century, the form of life to apostolic times. The first known formal consecration is that of Saint Marcellina, dated AD 353, mentioned in De Virginibus by her brother, Saint Ambrose. Another early consecrated virgin is Saint Genevieve (c. 422 c. 512).

Saint Margaret of Hungary (1242–1270) is noted as a nun and virgin, as she was consecrated as a virgin although she already had taken monastic vows; this was done in order to dissuade her father, king Béla IV of Hungary, from trying to have her vows rescinded by the pope for the purposes of a political marriage.

According to Raymond of Capua, Saint Catherine of Siena (c. 1347–1380) at the age of twenty-one (c. 1368) experienced what she described in her letters as a Mystical Marriage with Jesus Christ, later a popular subject in art as the Mystic marriage of Saint Catherine .

Virgins are consecrated for the church as a bride of Christ both in the Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic church. While in the latter one the consecration has been bestowed for centuries only for nuns living in cloistered monasteries, the bestowal for women living in the world has been reintroduced under Pope Paul VI in 1970. [3] The number of consecrated virgins ranges in the thousands. Estimates derived from the diocesan records range at around 5,000 consecrated virgins worldwide as of 2018. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

Catherine of Alexandria Egyptian missionary, saint depicted with a wheel

Catherine of Alexandria, or Katherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine, is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar who became a Christian around the age of 14, converted hundreds of people to Christianity and was martyred around the age of 18. More than 1,100 years after Catherine's martyrdom, Joan of Arc identified her as one of the saints who appeared to and counselled her.

Margaret the Virgin

Margaret, known as Margaret of Antioch in the West, and as Saint Marina the Great Martyr in the East, is celebrated as a saint on 20 July in the Western Rite Orthodoxy, Catholic Church and Anglicanism, on 17 July by the Eastern Orthodox Church and on Epip 23 and Hathor 23 in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

September 16 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

Sep. 15 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - Sep. 17

September 23 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

September 22 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - September 24

April 16 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

April 15 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - April 17

May 4 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

May 3 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - May 5

May 31 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

May 30 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - June 1

June 8 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

June 7 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - June 9

June 13 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

June 12 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - June 14

July 9 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

July 8 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - July 10

July 11 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

July 10 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - July 12

Consecrated virgin Consecrated, mystically betrothed to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church

In the Catholic Church, a consecrated virgin is a woman who has been consecrated by the church to a life of perpetual virginity as a bride of Christ. Consecrated virgins are consecrated by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite. The 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. A consecrated virgin may live either as a nun in some of the monastic orders or "in the world" under the authority of her bishop, to the service of the church.

Anastasia of Sirmium

Saint Anastasia is a Christian saint and martyr who died at Sirmium in the Roman province of Pannonia Secunda. In the Orthodox Church, she is venerated as St. Anastasia the Pharmakolytria, i.e. "Deliverer from Potions".

October 5 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

October 4 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - October 6

October 8 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

October 7 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - October 9

October 20 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

October 19 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - October 21

January 18 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

January 17 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - January 19

February 12 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

February 11 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - February 13

Pelagia of Tarsus

Pelagia, distinguished as Pelagia of Tarsus and Pelagia the Martyr, is a legendary Christian saint and martyr who lived in Tarsus in Cilicia during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian. Originally, her feast day was celebrated on October 8, in common with SS Pelagia the Virgin & Pelagia the Harlot, both of Antioch and one or both of whom her story is probably modeled after. In the Roman Catholic Church, the feast was eventually moved to May 4.

December 10 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

December 9 - Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar - December 11


  1. 1 Corinthians 7:34 "There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband." (KJV).
  2. "To participants in the International Congress of the Ordo Virginum (May 15, 2008) | BENEDICT XVI". Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  3. Ordo Consecrationis Virginum (31 May 1970), AAS 62 (1970) 650 = EDIL 2082-2092 = DOL 294 no. 3352. English translation: The Rites of the Catholic Church 2 (n. 29, p. 81), 132-164, DOL 395 nos. 3253-3262.
  4. Bernadette Mary Reis, "Church reproposes Order of Virgins 50 years after its restoration", Vatican News, 4 July 2018.