Was Mary never married to Joseph?


It is Catholic belief that a person is not really married until the marriage is consummated by the act of making love.

Because it is Catholic belief that Mary remained a Virgin all her life, she never consummated her marriage to Joseph, thus was she actually never MARRIED to Joseph?

Thanks in advance for your insightful answers.



You are mistaken about Catholic belief.

Canon 1061: “A valid marriage between baptised persons is said to be merely ratified, if it is not consummated…”

You’re welcome,


It’s a little anachronistic to think that the sacrament of matrimony existed at that time.

If this were a current scenario (minus the Incarnation, of course):

A marriage can be a “real marriage” without being consummated. The marriage would be ratum but not consummatum.


GREAT answers!!! thank you tee_eff_em and dylanschrader.

What is unarguable then is that although Mary and Joseph were married, they never consummated this marriage? right?




Right. They lived chastely within marriage.


This explains a lot.


A good friend of mine explained it to me this way -

At the end of a wedding ceremony, the priest says “I now pronounce you man and wife”. And afterwards, they can introduce each other as husband and wife, even though they haven’t consummated the wedding yet.

Well, at least it made sense to me. :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes, and moreover, Joseph’s and Mary’s marriage was only a natural marriage, not sacramental. Consummation is not required for a natural marriage from a Catholic perspective, although it does have implications under Jewish law.


There is nothing wrong with sex in marriage. Why was it kept from Mary and Joseph?


Absolutely nothing wrong, read the link from above. It’ll help answer the question. Or the simple answer is she took a vow of celibacy as a child and was married to Joseph to protect her vow.


Or the simple answer is she took a vow of celibacy as a child and was married to Joseph to protect her vow.

Why would she do that to their marriage? Intimacy is a big and important part of marriage.

Absolutely nothing wrong, read the link from above.

For the most part I hate chasing links on debate forums. Post your thoughts.



They weren’t my thoughts but I’ll help you out…

To begin with, the Protoevangelium records that when Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.

However, due to considerations of ceremonial cleanliness, it was eventually necessary for Mary, a consecrated “virgin of the Lord,” to have a guardian or protector who would respect her vow of virginity. Thus, according to the Protoevangelium, Joseph, an elderly widower who already had children, was chosen to be her spouse. (This would also explain why Joseph was apparently dead by the time of Jesus’ adult ministry, since he does not appear during it in the gospels, and since Mary is entrusted to John, rather than to her husband Joseph, at the crucifixion).

According to the Protoevangelium, Joseph was required to regard Mary’s vow of virginity with the utmost respect. The gravity of his responsibility as the guardian of a virgin was indicated by the fact that, when she was discovered to be with child, he had to answer to the Temple authorities, who thought him guilty of defiling a virgin of the Lord. Mary was also accused of having forsaken the Lord by breaking her vow. Keeping this in mind, it is an incredible insult to the Blessed Virgin to say that she broke her vow by bearing children other than her Lord and God, who was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is found at catholic.com/library/Mary_Ever_Virgin.asp


How old is the protoevagelium? Who wrote it, and how reliable is it?




Go to the link, It says there that it is from around A.D. 120

An important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.

According to the world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: “The principal aim of the whole writing *Protoevangelium of James] *is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ” (Patrology, 1:120–1).

Wikipedia also mentions this… Source number 2. I talks specifically about how and why it was written. This is sometimes also known as the Gospel of James. This is James the Just, Jesus stepbrother.

And here is the the Protoevangelium of James. If you do a simple Google search you will find out lots of other sources as well.

The original link has quotes too backing this document up.


She didn’t ‘do’ anything terrible to the marriage, neither did Joseph.

It was an entirely consensual and mutually-agreed arrangement, and a very beneficial and necessary one for them and Jesus - imagine Mary being unmarried and pregnant! Imagine Jesus having no human father-figure in his life…


I was told that in the sacramental sense Mary is married to the Holy Spirit, since He is what caused her to concieve. Trying to explain it in the context of Matthew 1:25, I explained via St. Jerome that “until” does not necissarily mean that “to a certain point and then something happened after that.” Such as “Christ will reign until he has put his enemies beneath his feet.” That does not mean that Christ’s reign will cease after he has put his enemies beneath his feet, for Christ will regin forever and ever.

One woman knew what I was trying to say, but she couldn’t use it to make sense out Matthew 1:25. So we have to examine the context of it which I explained it to her. St. Joseph found Mary with child, through an angel it was revealed that her child is divine and conceived through divine powers. Matthew emphasized this in Matthew 1:25 by stating that St. Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of this child. In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sense, Matthew 1:25 implies more, “Joseph had no relations with her to the day of the child’s birth.” She got it after that, it does not necissarily mean that they consumated the marriage after the birth of Jesus. In the sacramental sense she is bride of the Holy Spirit and so He is the only one that has that right to her. That is why Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox (as well as some Protestants like Luther) emphasize that she is a perpetual virgin.


also, after Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus, Joseph would have had to have been really presumptious to take her to bed for himself, even though they were married, imho.


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