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Our readers asked:

Was Mary really a virgin and did she remain one throughout her life?

Joe Paprocki Answers:

According to Catholic Tradition, the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, Muslim teaching holds that Mary was a virgin as well, but that’s another story. The Bible teaches us that Mary conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18 says that she was “found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:26:38 gives us a detailed account of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel in which she is told that she will give birth. Mary asks how this will be possible “since I have no relations with a man.” (1:34) Mary’s virginity is crucial because it reveals to us that Jesus is truly the Son of God – “begotten, not made” – who entered into humanity. Her virginity is also a powerful sign of her faith and trust in God. Mary’s perpetual virginity is not explicitly addressed in Scripture but has been part of Church Tradition since the earliest days of Christianity. In this way, her spiritual motherhood extends to ALL people. The Church has always understood that Gospel references to Jesus’ “brothers” or “sisters” (Mt 13:55-56; Mk 6:3) are references to close relations such as cousins. James and Joseph (Joses) are referred to as “brothers” of Jesus and yet the Gospels also tell us that they were the sons of Alpheus (Clopas) and Mary, the sister or sister-in-law of Mary the Mother of Jesus. (Mt 27:56, Mk 15:40, Jn 19:25)

The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
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    I’ve also read in a Catholic Update on Mary that the brothers and sisters of Jesus could have been children from a previous marriage of Joseph’s. He could have been a widower.

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