Consecrated Life

Consecrated Virginity

Called to Virginity

Christ calls certain women to live “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19,12) as consecrated virgins. This has been so ever since the earliest days of the Church, when such women, along with widows, could serve the Lord with a great freedom of heart, body and spirit.

The Consecration of Virgins living in the world has its origins in Apostolic times. From the earliest centuries, the Church recognised the call given to the virgin to offer her virginity to Christ forever, in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A liturgical rite of consecration to a life of virginity was established so the Church could consecrate the virgin. This rite was restored by the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship on 31st May 1970.

It is through the “solemn rite by which the virgin is constituted a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the love of the Church towards Christ, the eschatological image of the heavenly Bride and future life”, that a woman is consecrated in her virginity (CCC 923, Code of Canon Law, 604).

Once consecrated, as a sacred person, the virgin has the grace of manifesting the love of the Church, the Bride for her Bridegroom Christ, and the grace of foreshadowing the heavenly wedding feast of the Christ and the Church. The consecration of the virgin is a sacramental, with the nature of a lasting perpetual identity of a Bride of Christ. The consecrated virgin holds a spousal relationship with Christ reflecting the spousal relationship between the Church and Christ.

The diocesan bishop carries out the consecration and he becomes the virgin’s spiritual father in the consecrated life. Before the Prayer of Consecration, the intercession of the Mother of God and the litany of the saints are prayed as the virgin prostrates herself. With her hands in her bishop’s, she renews her resolve to remain in the virginal state and asks him to accept her resolve of perfect chastity. During the Prayer of Consecration, the supreme grace of God is implored upon the virgin and the abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the service of God and the Church.

The consecrated virgin devotes time to penance, works of mercy, apostolic engagement and holy prayer, with a special focus on the intentions of her Bishop, clergy and needs of her diocese. Given the Liturgy of the Hours at consecration, she is responsible to pray the Divine Office.

If you are interested or discerning a call to consecrated virginity lived in the world, please contact your diocesan bishop, parish priest, spiritual director or else a consecrated virgin of the diocese.

Please download this further information about consecrated virginity if you would like to find out more. Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address to consecrated virgins in 2008, which is well worth a read. We also offer here an inspiring homily by Cardinal Arinze to consecrated virgins. Then, there is this homily preached by the Archbishop of St Louis to help guide you in your prayer.