A Marriage to Jesus
August 18, 2015
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Hundreds of people attended a wedding at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Saturday morning. The bride’s name was Jessica Hayes, the groom was Jesus Christ.
“This is a vocation for women that feel that deeper call to spend their life more in knowing Jesus and making that a public commitment in serving his church, but are also called to live in the world,” Hayes said.
They aren’t nuns, but they choose to remain celibate for their whole lives. Around 3,500 Catholic women worldwide are known as ‘consecrated virgins’. It is a long-held tradition in the Catholic Church, which believes Mary was the first sacred virgin, but the practice gradually declined during the Middle Ages. However the ceremony, known as the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World, was revived by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
There is a US Association of Consecrated Virgins, the president of which, Judith Stegman, estimates that there are 230 women in the States who have committed to the lifestyle.
Consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church, predating religious life by centuries. The choice of life-long virginity is praised several places in the New Testament, and one of our earliest references to consecrated virgins as a distinct group within the Church can be found in St. Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Smyrnaeans, written c. 110 A.D. Before it was historically possible for a woman to enter a religious order and become a nun, she could offer her life to God as a consecrated virgin.