Consecrated Virgin

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The Consecration of St. Genoveva , Effigy in St. Genoveva Church, Missouri, 1821

A consecrated virgin ( Latin consecrated virgin , pl. Virgins consecratae ) is in the Catholic Church a woman in the hands of the diocesan bishop publicly and forever lives in the state of virginity has praised and which the Bishop virginal consecration (CONSECRATIO virginum) donated has been.

historical development

Virgo inter virgines - the Virgin Mary surrounded by holy virgins (recognizable by her saints attributes , end of the 15th century)
Triumph of Chastity (around 1510)

Even in the early days of the Church, it was customary to consecrate virgins. Therefore, a solemn rite was created through which the virgin becomes a consecrated person . “By consecration the Church shows how much she values ​​virginity; she implores the grace of God for the virgins and prays fervently for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ”.

The early Christian state of virgins consisted of girls and women of different ages who, due to a special calling of Christ, took on the way of life of virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven ( Mt 19.11f  EU ). The writings of the apostle Paul ( 1 Cor 7,25ff EU ), ( 1 Cor 7,34  EU ), grave inscriptions and pictures in the catacombs , early Christian community ordinances  , sermons, letters and treatises e.g. B. the church fathers Cyprianus , Hieronymus , Ambrosius , Augustinus as well as the church writer Tertullian and others report of the virgins of the early church. Numerous Greek writers of the first centuries also wrote about the Virgines. Already in Tertullian's time the proposal and consecration of the virgins took place in public. St. Ambrosius dedicated his work De virginibus ad Marcellinam sororem ("On the virgins to Sister Marcellina") to his biological sister, St. Marcellina , who had received the veil of consecrated virgins from the hand of Pope Liberius around the year 353.

After a long period of testing with the help of the private vow of virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, the candidates asked their bishop to donate the virgin consecration . In a public service they vowed to live voluntarily and forever as a consecrated virgin for Christ's sake. The bishop gave consecration through the consecration prayer of the church. Since the 3rd century, the virgins have received a veil afterwards , and since the 7th century also a ring . As early as the 4th century it became common for virgins to wear a poor tunic .

The virgins of the early Church lived secluded with their families. They committed themselves to a life of prayer, fasting , studying the scriptures , work, but also caring for the poor. Their lifestyle had to be simple and appropriate to their standing. They had their own seats at the celebration of the service.

Until the beginning of the 6th century, the consecrated virgins came together more and more to live together in closed monasteries . Since the 9th century, the consecration of virgins has been donated less and less and actually only in cloistered monasteries. This custom has been preserved among the monastic orders of the Benedictine , Trappist and Carthusian women . In other religious orders - such as the Ursulines - the consecration of a virgin can be donated "if there is an old custom". The whole of consecrated virgins has been called Ordo virginum (OV) since ancient times .


In the Italian Renaissance , the themes of chastity and virginity were incorporated and disseminated in allegorical poetry and images; they were given a high priority (see Triumph (Art) ).


In the course of the renewal after the Second Vatican Council , Pope Paul VI. In 1970 this rite was restored for women who "live in the world". Members of the Ordo virginum can therefore be both nuns and consecrated virgins living in the world . In the post-synodal letter Vita Consecrata , Pope John Paul II writes :

“Reason for joy and hope is to see that the old consecration of virgins, which has been attested to in the Christian communities since the apostolic times, is blossoming again today. Because of their consecration by the diocesan bishop, they acquire a special bond with the Church, to whose service they dedicate themselves, even if they remain in the world. Alone or in community they present a special eschatological picture of the heavenly Bride and the life to come, when the church will finally live the love for her bridegroom Christ in fullness. "

After a long period of preparation, preceded by the taking of private vows, the candidate is consecrated to the service of the Church by the bishop of her diocese through the solemn rite of the Consecratio virginum . Canon 604 of the CIC provides:

Ҥ 1. In addition to these forms of consecrated life, there is the class of virgins who, as an expression of their sacred plan to follow Christ in a particularly close manner, consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to an approved liturgical rite, mystically betrothed to Christ, the Son of God, and for the ministry of the Church should be determined.
§ 2. In order to keep their project more faithful and to increase the service for the Church according to their own status through mutual support, the virgins can form associations. "

The Instruction of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago (The Image of the Church as Bride), published on July 4, 2018, is the first ecclesiastical document that deals in detail with the status of consecrated virgins.

The consecrated virgin lives in a public church class, in the Ordo virginum , one of the forms of consecrated life , and is directly subordinate to the respective diocesan bishop. According to their circumstances and gifts of grace, virgins consecrated to Christ should devote themselves to penance , works of mercy, apostolate and prayer. Above all, this includes the Church's mandate to pray the hours of the Church . Wherever they live, they should serve the Church and share the concern of the bishop.

During the consecration , the pontifical provides for the handing over of the ring , the veil and the church book of hours as insignia . The ring and veil are symbols of the nuptial bond, the book of hours symbols of the church bond.

The consecrated virgin does not belong to the church hierarchy , nor are certain offices or functions associated with this class. She is not supported by the church either, but is responsible for her own living.

According to a survey by the Holy See, there were 4,000 consecrated virgins worldwide in 2015, 67% of them in Europe.

Holy virgins

Well-known saints who belonged to the state of the virgins are, for example, Agatha of Catania , Agnes of Rome , Cecilia of Rome , Euphemia of Chalcedon , Catherine of Alexandria , Catherine of Siena , Lucia of Syracuse , Margaret of Antioch , Marcellina of Milan and Scholastica by Nursia .

See also


  • Pontificale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. II promulgatum. Ordo Consecrationis Virginum. Editio typica. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1978.
  • Pontifical for the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking area - The consecration of the abbot and the abbess. The consecration of a virgin. Pontifical second hand edition with pastoral liturgical information, published by the liturgical institutes. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1994, ISBN 3-451-23288-X .
  • Encyclical Sacra virginitas Pope Pius XII. , on the consecrated virginity of March 25, 1954.
  • Barbara Albrecht: Dimensions of Christian virginity. Kyrios, Meitingen et al. 1976, ISBN 3-7838-0138-9 ( Theology and Life 31).
  • Barbara Albrecht: “Until you come in glory.” Consecrated virginity - primordial sign for the spiritual dimension of the church. Information center for professions of the church, Freiburg 1985 ( PWB-Sonderdrucke 23, ZDB -ID 2201776-8 ).
  • Suso Mayer OSB : bride of the king. Virginity in monastery and world and virgin consecration . Beuroner Kunstverlag, Beuron 1956.
  • Bernhard Sven Anuth: Consecrated virgins according to the law and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Ludgerus-Verlag, Essen 2009, ISBN 978-3-87497-268-0 ( Münster commentary on the Codex iuris canonici. Supplement 54).
  • Bernhard Sven Anuth: Consecrated virgins in the Roman Catholic Church. Canonical remarks on a specifically female way of life , in: Elmar Güthoff, Stephan Haering (eds.): Ius quia iustum. Festschrift for Helmuth Pree on his 65th birthday. ( Canonical Studies and Texts 65) Berlin 2015, pp. 569–593.
  • Marianne Schlosser : Old, but not out of date. The consecration of a virgin as a way of following Christ. Cologne 1992 ( reprint of the order correspondence . 1992, ISSN  1867-4291 ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Pontifical for the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking area - Ordo consecrationis virginum - The consecration of women, general introduction, I. Nature and effect of the consecration of women
  2. “Through this solemn rite, the Ordo Consecrationis virginum , the virgin becomes a consecrated person, a sign of the Church's love for Christ and an image of the heavenly bride at last and of life to come”. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 9, 923
  3. ^ Letter of Caecilius Cyprianus on the behavior of virgins ( De habitu virginum )
  4. J. Wilpert: The consecrated virgins in the first centuries of the church - depicted according to the patristic sources and the grave monuments , Freiburg 1892, p. 1ff., P. 9
  5. ^ Pontificals for the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking region II. The consecration of the virgins. Pontifical for the Catholic dioceses of the German-speaking area - Ordo consecrationis virginum - The consecration of virgins . Pontificale II, first printed in 1970, current status 1994. P. 103ff.
  6. Schlosser, Marianne, Alt, but not out of date. The consecration of a virgin as a way of following Christ . Cologne 1992, p. 17, p. 43
  7. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata - On Consecrated Life and Its Mission in Church and World (No. 7) of March 25, 1996.
  8. Instruction "Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago" on the "Ordo virginum" on the website of the Holy See, July 4, 2018.
  9. Florence Motte: Study of Consecrated Virgins. Zenit , February 3, 2016, archived from the original on August 7, 2016 ; accessed on January 15, 2020 .