4 of The Divine Maternity
Plenitude of Grace
Church teaches three
truths concerning Mary's virginity; that she was a virgin in conceiving
Our Savior, that she was a virgin in giving Him birth, and that she
a virgin her whole life through. The first two truths were defended
the Corinthians and the Ebionites towards the end of the 1st century;
Celsus, who was refuted by Origen; in the 16th century against the
whom Paul IV and Clement VIII condemned; and recently against the
--- Strauss, Renan, and the Pseudo
in particular.  The
second truth was attacked by
Jovinian, Who was condemned in 390. The third truth was denied by
and defended by St. Jerome. 
virginity in the conception of her Son was foretold by Isaias (Is. vii,
14): ' A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.' The virginal
is clearly the literal sense of this text; otherwise, as St. Justin
out to Tryphon,  there
would be no question of a sign, as Isaias had promised.
Gabriel also gave testimony
virginal conception at the Annunciation: 'The Holy Ghost shall come
thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.' The
given by the Angel to St. Joseph is to the same effect: 'Joseph, son of
David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is
in her is of the Holy Ghost' (Matt. i, 20). And St. Luke says of Jesus:
'. . . being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph' (Luke iii, 23).
the conception of Christ was virginal, as can be learned from the
of St. Ignatius the Martyr, Aristides, St. Justin, Tertullian, St.
All the creeds teach that the Son of God made flesh 'was conceived by
Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost'. 
It was defined by the Lateran Council under Pope Martin I in 649 
and it was reaffirmed by Paul IV against the Socinians. 
show the appropriateness of the virginal conception are exposed by St.
l --- It is appropriate
that He Who is the natural Son of God should have no father on earth,
only in heaven; 2 --- The Word,
in the most complete purity, should be conceived virginally when being
made flesh; 3 --- That the human
nature of the
be exempt from original sin it was appropriate that it should not be
by the ordinary process of human generation, but virginally; 4
--- By being born of a virgin Christ showed that His
be born by the Spirit of His virginal and spiritual spouse, the Church.
bears witness to the virginal birth when commenting on the text of
'A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son;' she will be a virgin, he
in giving birth as well as in conceiving.  The same
had been said earlier by St. Ignatius the Martyr, 
It was defined by the Lateran Council. 
Thomas gives the
following arguments to show the appropriateness of the virginal birth:
I --- The Word, Who is conceived and
eternally from the Father without any corruption of His substance;
if He becomes flesh, be born of a virgin mother without detriment to
virginity; 2 --- He Who came to
should not by His birth destroy the virginity of her who bore Him; 3
--- He Who commands us to honor our parents should not
by His birth the glory of His holy mother.
Perpetual Virginity of Mary after the Savior's Birth
affirmed this point of doctrine in 649, as did Paul IV later against
the Greek Fathers
two deserve special mention as having explicitly taught it: Origen 
and St. Gregory the Wonder worker.  The expression semper
virgo --- 'always a
--- is common in the 4th century, especially in the works
Athanasius and Didymus the Blind.  It was also used
by the 2nd Council of Constantinople.  The Latin
Fathers are represented by Saints Ambrose , Augustine
and Jerome .
St. Ephrem voices
the mind of the Syriac Church. 
to show the appropriateness of the perpetual virginity are as follows
q. 28, a. 3): I --- Helvidius' error
the dignity of Christ Himself, for just as He is the only Son in
of the Father so also He ought to be the only Son in time of the
2 --- It is opposed also to the
dignity of the
Ghost who sanctified once and for ever the virginal womb of Mary; 3
--- It is opposed to the dignity and holiness of the
as it would imply that she was dissatisfied with having borne such a
4 --- Finally, St. Joseph would have
the greatest presumption had he violated the virginity of her whom he
by the Angel, to have conceived of the Holy Ghost. 
explains also (IIIa, q. 28, a. 4) the, commonly accepted teaching that
the Blessed Virgin had taken a vow of perpetual virginity. Her words to
the Angel prove the point: 'How shall this be done, because I know not
man?' Tradition is summed up in the phrase of St. Augustine's: 'Virgo
sancta es, votum vovisti.' 
Cf. Denzinger. nos. 20, 91, 113, 143 sqq., 201, 214, 255 sqq., 282,
344, 429, 462, 708, 735, 993, 1314,1462.
perpetua virginitate B. Mariae adversus Helvidium. P.
cum Tryphone. LXXXIV; P. G., VI. 673.
Denz., 6 sqq.
Illa. q. 28, a. I.
Epist. XLII ad Siricium Papam, P. L., XVI, 1124: 'Non enim
tantum inodo virginem. sed et parituram (Isaias) dixit.'
Ephes., xv, I.
vita Barlaa,n et Josaphat, P. G., XCVI, 1121.
Strom., VII, xvi; P. G., IX, 529.
Denz., 256; item 993.
Denz., 256; 993.
Matt., t. X, xvii; P. G., XIII, 876 B; Homil. VII in Luc.; P.
G., XIII, 1818.
in Nativit. Christi; P. G., X, 391.
St. Athanas., Orat. II contra Arianos, LXX; P. G., XXVI, 296;
Didymus, De Trinitate, I. xxvii; P. G., XXXIX, 404.
Denz., 214, 218.
XLII ad Siricium Papam; P. L., XVI, 1124.
III in Natali Domini, n. I; P. L., XXXVIII, 995.
perpetua virginitate B. Mariae adversus Helvidium.
Ephrem Syri opera, ed. Rom., 1743, t. II, p. 267.
Those mentioned in the New Testament as brothers of the Lord were
relatives, as tradition has always taught. The Hebrew word
to 'brother' signified near relative, and was used to cover cousins,
nephews, etc. Cf. Gen, xiii, 8; xiv, 6. Cf. A. Durand, Freres
Seigneur in Dict. Apol.
CCCX in Natali joannis Rapt.; P. L., XXXVIII, 1319.