Perpetual Virginity of Joseph?!

How does the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity necessitate Joseph also being a perpetual virgin?

It doesn’t necessitate it. There’s a pious tradition regarding Joseph as an older man with children by his deceased wife, and another that he was a young man intending to remain a virgin like Mary.


It’s a pious opinion.

It doesn’t. Joseph may have been an older man, a widower, who took Mary as a second wife knowing she had pledged herself to virginity.

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God chose Mary for her role in salvation history. God also chose Joseph for his role.

There is no doctrine on the perpetual virginity of Joseph to my knowledge. Please enlighten me if I am wrong :slight_smile:


This is a ridiculous question. This idea of “perpetual virginity” for biblical persons has gone too far.


I think St. Jerome in his letter against Helvidius said that St. Joseph preserved his virginity due to Our Lady. (Apologies to St. Jerome if I misquoted him!)

Where did you get this idea?

From this thread:

I’m sure you didn’t intend it this way, but the second part of your post is borderline blasphemous against one of the most beloved saints in the Catholic tradition. He may or may not have been a widower…but either way, he was holy and pure.

St. Joseph pray for us.


It does not.

I know of no such doctrine.

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Assuming St Joseph was a young man that was never married beforehand, him marrying the Blessed Virgin Mary would make him a Perpetual virgin as well. Because neither of them are having sex, and St Joseph would never cheat on her, ergo St. Joseph is a perpetual virgin as well.

Assuming St. Joseph is an old man who is a widower and has had kids before in his past (which this is no evidence of, at least no canon evidence) than him being married to the Blessed Virgin Mary would make him a “born-again” virgin but perpetual thanks to him being married to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Again because St Joseph is a good man that would never cheat on his wife, he remains a Perpetual virgin like his wife.

It’s not dogmatically nessescary to believe in either or, but St. Joseph played his part in God’s plan. Some say God made St. Joseph marry the Blessed Virgin so that the devil gets tricked into thinking that they are a normal couple and Jesus is Joseph’s biological son.

An interesting thing to note, in the Litany of St. Joseph, one of his titles is “Chaste guardian of the Virgin”. So do with that as you will.

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Well that doesn’t really tell us either way, as all of us are called to chastity. A widower who only ever had relations with his first wife would also be chaste.


I am currently reading Jerome’s letters; if / when I come across this letter, I’ll confirm or deny.


Yes. That was his conclusion in paragraph 21, emphasis mine:

  1. But as we do not deny what is written, so we do reject what is not written. We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage; but because when we are dealing with saints we must not judge rashly. If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord’s brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety. You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born. For if as a holy man he does not come under the imputation of fornication, and it is nowhere written that he had another wife, but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin. (source)
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It doesn’t. There is a long-standing tradition that Jesus’s brothers and sisters spoken about in the New Testament, were from a previous marriage of Joseph where his wife had died. There’s another tradition that says it was his cousins, although given marriage practices in the Middle East, even today, it’s completely possible for them to have been both step-siblings and step-cousins.

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