Mary's Virginity

In our bible study group a question came up regarding Mary giving birth to Jesus. Did Mary have a natural human birth or was Jesus Miraculously born?

Please explain what you mean by “miraculously born”? Certainly Christ was born in the same manner as most humans. It is not His birth that is miraculous, but His conception.

Good question!

I’ve heard that since Mary was conceived without original sin, that she wasn’t under the curse that God gave in Gen 3:16: “In sorrow (some translations use ‘pain’) shall you bring forth children.”

Also, I’ve heard that if Jesus born via the “standard” way (birth canal), the birth would have, in effect, violated her virginity.

I don’t know the official answers, but am simply providing additional clarification for other experts… I’ll stay tuned in!

Some Catholics hold the opinion that Jesus did not pass through the birth canal, but underwent a miraculous birth in which he moved directly from Mary’s womb to the outside. Some defend this belief by noting that Mary was born without original sin, and the pains of normal childbirth are the effects of original sin. Therefore, Mary should have been exempt. Personally, I disagree with this logic because Mary did not live in paradise, but experienced pain and suffering which are also the effects of original sin. And she could have had a painless childbirth but still given birth in the usual way. Also, as Jesus was fully human as much as he was fully God, it seems fitting that he would have chosen to be born in the same manner as other humans normally are born.

I am pretty certain the Church has never issued a official decision on this, so we are free to believe either way.

The traditions of Mary’s perpetual physical virginal integrity (i.e. that even in giving birth her hymen remained intact) and the corresponding miraculous birth of Christ go all the way back to the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James and have been taken up by Catholic writers ever since. It’s not official Church teaching, but it does seem to have been a popular opinion, and it is anything but a pious medieval invention as some try to paint it. Bottom line: ancient and held by very reputable sources - yes; binding on the faithful - no.

I don’t know - I always thought it was binding, in that it relates to the purpetual virginity of Our Lady. Here is a reference in the Catechism of Trent:
The Nativity Of Christ Transcends The Order Of Nature

But as the Conception itself transcends the order of nature, so also the birth of our Lord presents to our contemplation nothing but what is divine.

Besides, what is admirable beyond the power of thoughts or words to express, He is born of His Mother without any diminution of her maternal virginity, just as He afterwards went forth from the sepulchre while it was closed and sealed, and entered the room in which His disciples were assembled, the doors being shut; or, not to depart from every day examples, just as the rays of the sun penetrate without breaking or injuring in the least the solid substance of glass, so after a like but more exalted manner did Jesus Christ come forth from His mother’s womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Ghost, who at the Conception and birth of the Son so favoured the Virgin Mother as to impart to her fecundity while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity.
And from the current [/FONT]Catechism[FONT=Verdana]:
499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.154 In fact, Christ’s birth "did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it."155 And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever-virgin”.156

510 Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is “the handmaid of the Lord” (*Lk *1:38).
While I don’t think it would qualify as something defined by the extraordinary magistarium, it seems it would be an infallible teaching according to the ordinary magistatium, and thus binding on the faithful.

Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad

I guess I say non-binding just because I’m not sure how strictly defined “maternal virginity” and “virginal integrity” are. For instance, a modern reader without knowledge of earlier teaching could read these and never imagine they referred to an intact hymen.

It may have been St. Thomas Aquinas that spoke of the birth of Jesus being like light passing through glass, that Jesus was not born in the way any human is born. The writings of the mystic, Anne Catherine Emmerich, among others, also speak of the miraculous birth. It only makes sense to believe that, since Mary had no original sin and all that it brings with it. After the movie, The Nativity, came out last year, some priests wrote about the inaccuracy of showing Mary in labor.

I would rather believe revelations like these than to look for the “lowest common denominator”. Additionally, that Mary is ever-virgin is one of the dogmas about her, requiring assent. Not sure if someone was saying the opposite.

I Cant Remember For Sure But I Know I Have Heard That It Wasnt A Hard Birth. No Pains But I Would Imagine It Would Have Been Normal. Good Question Though. But I Would Probally Say Yes. Now Her Body Physically After, I Guess No One Could Probally Answer. But To Say She Was A Virgin Untill The Day She Died.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was born naturally by a Virgin through the power of the Most High that overshadowed her.

Pax

I repeat, not according to tradition, that is, not born the way we all were. The Church will not address the specifics because it is not in our written history, you might say. But St. Thomas Aquinas and others have addressed it as being a mystical birth. You can’t just have an opinion and say it is so.

The Church teaches that Our Lady was a virgin: before, during, and after the nativity.

That “during” would seem to suggest that the birth was not normal.

Normally, it goes without saying that a woman does not, as a rule, have sex during childbirth! So what is meant when the Church says Our Lady remained a virgin “during” the birth?

Presumably that there was no physical tearing, at a guess.

Otherwise what’s the point of saying “during”?

Triumpha.

But here we see the ambiguity in the tradition. I could agree with you that this implies there would have been no tearing, but I could hold that this was miraculously preserved despite Jesus’ passage through the birth canal, or I could say that it made more sense that He must have come out another way because I think it hardly sounds virginal to have a human being pass through there, tearing or no. But the Church has never defined the exact specifics of what it intends to teach in this matter, as far as I know. I would welcome a definitive magisterial statement on them so I could have an official opinion to pass on.

Our creed says “born on the virgin Mary…” When asked how this did not destroy her virginity, my answer was, “What is more difficult. To create all that is by a single thought, or to preserve Mary’s virginity at the birth of Jesus”. Remember, God is not subject to his laws of creation, rather creation is subject to God.
Deacon Ed B

Dear Friends,

Why was Jesus born of a virgin? Because the Blood line is always determined by THE FATHER! This means that Our Lord’s Blood type was determined by our Heavenly Father (Holy, and without sin) so that’s why Jesus had to be born by a virgin, conceived by the Holy Ghost. Since Adam Sinned, everyone in his blood line inherited a sin nature all the way up to us. This is why Jesus is called the Second and the last Adam in 1Corinthians.

In His Service,
rbspace

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