Council of Trullo, Canon LXXIX: Mary gave birth without pain?


It seems that the Council of Trullo (aka the Quinsext Council), one of the canons (79) dealt with the incorrect pious celebration of the “childbed” (or puerperia) of Mary:
As we confess the divine birth of the Virgin to be without any childbed, since it came to pass without seed, and as we preach this to the entire flock, so we subject to correction those who through ignorance do anything which is inconsistent therewith. Wherefore since some on the day after the holy Nativity of Christ our God are seen cooking σεμίδαλῖν , and distributing it to each other, on pretext of doing honour to the puerperia of the spotless Virgin Maternity, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind be done by the faithful. … If therefore anyone henceforth be discovered doing any such thing, if he be a cleric let him be deposed, but if a layman let him be cut off.
“Childbed” is the “accidents” (if you will) of childbirth: pain, blood, afterbirth, etc. (as the commentary of Zonaras explains). Now, what is the status of this “confess[ion]” of the Council of Trullo? Is it doctrinal? It occurred in AD 692, several centuries after St. Jerome wrote the following in Contra Helvidium, n. 21:“Are virgins better,” you ask, “than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were married men? Are not infants daily fashioned by the hands of God in the wombs of their mothers? And if so, are we bound to blush at the thought of Mary having a husband after she was delivered? If they find any disgrace in this, they ought not consistently even to believe that God was born of the Virgin by natural delivery. For according to them there is more dishonour in a virgin giving birth to God by the organs of generation, than in a virgin being joined to her own husband after she has been delivered.” Add, if you like, Helvidius, the other humiliations of nature, the womb for nine months growing larger, the sickness, the delivery, the blood, the swaddling-clothes. Picture to yourself the infant in the enveloping membranes. Introduce into your picture the hard manger, the wailing of the infant, the circumcision on the eighth day, the time of purification, so that he may be proved to be unclean. We do not blush, we are not put to silence. The greater the humiliations He endured for me, the more I owe Him. And when you have given every detail, you will be able to produce nothing more shameful than the cross, which we confess, in which we believe, and by which we triumph over our enemies.
Now, certainly St. Jerome was not writing infallibly, and he does not necessarily admit that Mary’s pregnancy was accompanied by “the sickness” of pregnancy and “the blood” of childbirth (= childbed), but merely offers those as “humiliations” Jesus could have endured in his assuming our nature.

Add to this the testimony (?) of Luke 2:22-24, depending on your translation. The sacrifice of two turtledoves for “her” (Mary’s) or “their” (Mary’s and Jesus’s) “purification” according to the Law of Moses. Since we believe Mary to be free from the stain of sin, and Jesus was certainly as well, apart from showing their submission to the Law, what was the purpose of this purification?

So my question is: has Mary’s painless childbirth actually been defined, or is it just the sensus fidelium? Trullo anathematizes those who “celebrate” Mary’s childbed, but it does not seem to impose the belief.


I may be misunderstanding what the Catholic Encyclopedia is saying, but it seems that the Council of Trullo was never recognized. If that is true, its pronouncements are not part of Church teaching.

However, some of the questions are reasonable and valid.

Mary went through the ritual purification and sacrifice because it is required by the Law. To violate the Law would be a sin. Whether she was, in fact, ritually impure is not the issue, the Blessed Virgin Mary was simply obeying the Law.

You could equally ask, why was Jesus circumcised? Being God already, and both Mary and Joseph knew this before His birth, he certainly did not need to be circumcised. The answer is the same, to be in humble obedience to the Law.


Ah, that does appear to be the case. The CCEL says something to that effect.


It also does not appear on this list.

Or this one.

There seem to be only 21 accepted ecumenical councils. (22 if you count the Council of Jerusalem in the book of Acts.)

That does not de-legitimizee your questions about the necessity of Mary’s purification. :slight_smile:

I would also add that some mystics have claimed that Mary gave birth without pain. However, I do not see how the answer to that would alter one’s faith one way or another.


Since we believe Mary to be free from the stain of sin, and Jesus was certainly as well, apart from showing their submission to the Law, what was the purpose of this purification?

Matthew 17:24-27

[FONT=Georgia]When they came to Caperna-um, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” 25* He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27* However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

Jesus followed the Law not of necessity, but to avoid irrelevant controversy.[/FONT]
It is interesting that He also paid the tax for Peter, but not for the others. This is indicative of Peter’s role as Jesus’ vicar.


To answer your question, please see my Reply # 14 in the thread “Re: Physical Virginity of Mary”.

Meanwhile, it would appear that there is implicit scriptural reference to the virginity of Mary during the birth of Christ (in partu). We read in Isaiah 7, 14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” Mary remained a virgin beyond conceiving the holy child. So Mary’s virginity must have remained physically unimpaired as she gave birth to our Saviour. A virginal birth can only be a miraculous birth, just as the virginal conception of our Lord was miraculous and supernatural in all its elements.

Scripture does suggest that Mary experienced pain, but it was not the accursed physical pain of child bearing inherited from Eve. This stigma would have been unfitting for the new Eve who had fashioned the new Adam. The pain Mary significantly suffered was spiritual in nature. It comprises what is traditionally held as her Seven Sorrows. Our Blessed Mother’s sorrows were experienced together with her son. She experienced no undignifying pain in complete isolation directly on account of him according to Scripture.

Pax vobiscum
Good Fella :cool:


I must admit that I have never heard of the “Council of Trullo”. Further, I do not see a church Council making a statement such as this, which has nothing to do with our understanding of its Dogmas, which this is not. There is enough to know, without trying to be familiar with all that does not apply. This only distracts us from pursuing the truth.
deacon Ed B


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