Unfortunately, there has been some recent confusion about the dogmatic teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the birth of Jesus, one of the three essential aspects of Our Lady’s Virginity, which was defined by Pope St. Martin I in 649 at the First Lateran Council. This second Marian Dogma, Our Lady’s Virginity before, during , and after the birth of Jesus, has always included the traditional patristic and magisterial understanding that Mary gave “miraculous birth” to Jesus (in the words of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943), without any violation to her physical, external virginity. As the Fathers of the Church explained, as “light passes through glass without harming the glass”, so Jesus was born with Mary’s Virginity “in tact”, that is with the preservation of her physical virginity, so that the Perfect Virgin would be an example of Christian virginity, in heart and in body, for all later Christians called to the special vocation of Christian virginity.

As a recent discussion against the traditional and magisterial teaching of Mary’s Virginity during the Birth has recently surfaced in the Catholic Answers publication (cf. June, 2012), we are publishing the following article by Msgr. Arthur Calkins, for over 20 years an official of the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei, which, although originally written in response to previous erroneous statements against the Virginitas in Partu Traditional teaching, responds to many of the same objections raised by the more recent rejection of the Traditional teaching in the Catholic Answers articles. – Dr. Mark Miravalle, Editor

 

1. Status Quæstionis. About ten years ago I wrote a response to an earlier article by Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz, “Reproductive Science and the Incarnation” published in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly (Vol. 25, No. 4, [Fall 2002] 11-25). My response to that article was originally published in the Winter 2003 FCS Quarterly (Vol. 26, No. 1:10-13) with all 38 endnotes inadvertently omitted. Eventually that article was republished in toto in the Spring 2004 FCS Quarterly (Vol. 27, No. 1:9-13). Simultaneously with my first response (without endnotes) to Dr. Tkacz the FCS Quarterly published an article by Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, S.V.D. entitled “Biology and the Incarnation: A Response to the Article ‘Reproductive Science and the Incarnation’” (Winter 2003, Vol. 26, No. 1:3-9). At the conclusion of that article Fr. Zimmerman states

Finally, I am so glad that Dr. Tkacz has Jesus bless every organ of His mother that nurtured Him and then issued Him forth through the birth canal. Thank you, doctor, for singing the glories of the mother with all her special gifts and organs (9).

Subsequently, after the publication of my article with the endnotes, the Summer FCS Quarterly published another article by Fr. Zimmerman entitled “Virginitas vs Maternitas in Partu: A Response to Msgr. Calkins” (Vol. 27, No. 2:32-34). In that essay, inter alia, he challenged me thus:

Msgr. Calkins then adds that “The preaching and teaching was not a mere matter of pious fantasizing, but rather it was a careful ‘handing on’ of what had been received’.” For this latter assertion he provides no data. Respectfully, might I ask the Monsignor to provide such data, if data exists (sic). He lists no Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Justin, Irenaeus, Hermas, Tatian, Clement of Alexander (sic), Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Lactantius, Apostolic Constitution (sic), Origen (33).

2. My Response. My first article was written with the primary intent of presenting the Church’s teaching with sufficient documentation in order to offer a polite rectification to what Dr. Tkacz had written. I had not intended to write an encyclopedic treatise on the virginitas in partu. For whatever reasons my response to Fr. Zimmerman was never published in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter and in the meantime Fr. Zimmerman has gone to his eternal reward. He was a distinguished Catholic apologist and an ardent supporter of the pro-life movement. I have no intention of sullying his well-deserved reputation, but in the light of a recent controversy in which another distinguished apologist has taken the same ground as the late Fr. Zimmerman(1), I believe it appropriate to publish the article. That Fr. Zimmerman realized that he was jousting with the Church’s tradition and teaching authority is obvious in this statement (as well as many others):

To my knowledge, neither the Fathers, nor the Magisterium nor Msgr. Calkins has weighed the negative effects that a miraculous birth might have upon Mary’s motherhood. Until that has been done, I believe that a doctrine about a miraculous birth of Jesus remains tentative (34).

I believe that it is incumbent on me to testify to “the whole truth about Mary”, specifically about her virginity in giving birth to Christ, when a low Mariology (or Mariology “from below”) is undermining the faith of so many Catholics along with the accompanying low Christology (or Christology “from below”). Indeed, the mystery of the Incarnation, of which the virginitas in partu is an important facet, involves both Jesus and Mary according to God’s eternal plan and we have no right to diminish its grandeur simply because of our particular agendas, however desirable they may seem in themselves.

3. Fundamental Dispositions. I had already insisted in my previous article on the necessity of approaching the mystery of the virginitas in partu with profound reverence and quoted Blessed Pope John Paul II’s address of 24 May 1992 in Capua to this effect. Here I do so at greater length.

For a fruitful theological reflection on Mary’s virginity it is first of all essential to have a correct point of departure. Actually, in its interwoven aspects the question of Mary’s virginity cannot be adequately treated by beginning with her person alone, her people’s culture or the social conditions of her time. The Fathers of the Church had already clearly seen that Mary’s virginity was a “Christological theme” before being a “Mariological question”. They observed that the virginity of the Mother is a requirement flowing from the divine nature of the Son; it is the concrete condition in which, according to a free and wise divine plan, the incarnation of the eternal Son took place, of him who is “God from God” (Conc. Oecum. Constantinop. I, Exposition fidei CL Patrum seu Symbolum Nicænum-Constantinopolitanum), who alone is the Holy One, who alone is the Lord, who alone is the Most High (cf. Missale Romanum, Hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo). As a consequence, for Christian tradition Mary’s virginal womb, made fruitful by the divine Pneuma without human intervention (cf. Lk. 1:34-35), became like the wood of the cross (cf. Mk. 15:39) or the wrappings in the tomb (cf. Jn. 20-5-8), a reason and sign for recognizing in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God. …

The theologian must approach the mystery of Mary’s fruitful virginity with a deep sense of veneration for God’s free, holy and sovereign action. Reading through the writings of the holy Fathers and the liturgical texts we notice that few of the saving mysteries have caused so much amazement, admiration or praise as the incarnation of God’s Son in Mary’s virginal womb. The Fathers, conscious of the profound unity between the two phases of the one Revelation, never hesitated in applying to Mary, the virgin mother of Emmanuel (cf. Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:23), the most venerable symbols of the Old Testament – the burning bush, the ark of the covenant, the tabernacle of glory, the temple of the Lord – and they declared that they were incapable of worthily praising the mystery. …

When theological reflection becomes a moment of doxology and latria, the mystery of Mary’s virginity is disclosed, allowing one to catch a glimpse of other aspects and other depths. (2)

Both Dr. Tkacz and Fr. Zimmerman were aware that in their insistence on Jesus’ descent through Mary’s birth canal and emerging through the labia, the vulva, they were negating the Church’s teaching on the virginitas in partu. Dr. Tkacz dismissed the tradition as “essentially modern, based on a pietistic thought that to honor Jesus one must dissociate him from human birth, as if birth were indecent” (25). Fr. Zimmerman, knowing the tradition better, still insists that until the Church weighs his arguments carefully, he believes “that a doctrine about a miraculous birth of Jesus remains tentative” (34). What both of them seemed to be unaware of is that descending into such questionable biological details flies in the face of the Church’s tradition and was the object of a specific monitum (warning) by the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) stating that

This supreme Congregation has often observed recently, and with deep concern, that theological works are being published in which the delicate question of Mary’s virginity in partu is treated with a deplorable crudeness of expression and, what is more serious, in flagrant contradiction to the doctrinal tradition of the Church and to the sense of respect the faithful have.

Thus it prohibited the publication of such dissertations in the future. (3)

4. The Assumptions of Dr. Tkacz and Fr. Zimmerman. Effectively, what both of these contenders against the Church’s millennial tradition insisted on is that the paradigm for Mary’s motherhood must be that which we know in our present state of fallen human nature and according to the present state of biology. Dr. Tkacz’ treatment was more mitigated and less aggressive than Fr. Zimmerman’s, but both of them seem rather blind to the fact that with Jesus and Mary we are dealing with the “New Adam” and the “New Eve” who make a new beginning for the human race and who are not subject to the effects of original sin. The Roman Catechism (also known as The Catechism of the Council of Trent) draws out the Marian implications of Genesis 3:16 in precisely this way:

To Eve it was said: “In pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16). Mary was exempt from this law, for preserving her virginal integrity inviolate, she brought forth Jesus the Son of God, without experiencing, as we have already said, any sense of pain. (4)

With a genial intuition which can serve as a way of synthesizing the received teaching on the virginal conception and the virgin birth, Haymo of Halberstadt (+853) stated: “Just as she conceived without pleasure, so she gave birth without pain.” (5)

Another major Old Testament prediction which sheds light on the mystery of the virgin birth is that of Isaiah 7:14. I believe that Fr. John Saward was right in stating that

Isaiah prophesied that the Mother of Emmanuel would be a virgin not only in conceiving Him in the womb (Ecce virgo concipiet) but also in bringing Him forth from the womb (et virgo pariet, cf. Is. 7:14).

In the light shed on this mystery by the tradition I find particularly vacuous and questionable Fr. Zimmerman’s constant insistence that:

if she [Mary] did not “give birth” to Jesus in a natural manner, then some of her glory as our Theotókos fades.

If her birth canal remained virginal, then Mary did not “give” Jesus to us. Then it was God who took Jesus from Mary miraculously and laid the Child before her. … In this scenario, Mary, would be inactive in the birthing process. She would be a passive vas instrumentalis, not an active Theotókos. We must weigh the merits of integral motherhood against those of a miraculous birth (32). …

An active participation by Mary in giving birth belongs naturally to the integrity of motherhood, and perhaps even to its essence. …

I personally believe that the concept of Theotókos contains an implicit belief that Mary really gave birth to Jesus as mothers do this naturally. For unless Mary participated in active birthing, she could not “give” Jesus to us and to the world. It implies that our belief in her motherhood negates belief in a miraculous birth. …

If Mary had not given birth to Jesus as mothers do naturally, her life would be considerably impoverished (34).

My first response to these statements is that what is easily asserted is just as easily denied. On what grounds can one maintain that “If her birth canal remained virginal, then Mary did not ‘give’ Jesus to us”? Can a mother whose child is delivered by caesarian section not give her child to another? Is such a woman’s motherhood not integral? Who would dare to tell such a woman that she is not a mother in her essence? Insistence on the “natural” or “ordinary” process of Mary’s giving birth seems strangely out of place in the case of a conception and birth that were already announced prophetically in the Old Testament as extraordinary.

Why does the glory of the Theotókos fade if Jesus is not born in the “natural” manner? Why should a miraculous birth, which is a sovereign act of God, impoverish Mary’s life and motherhood? Along with the Fathers of the Church I would argue that her glory is augmented, not diminished, by this marvelous birth. I would further maintain that Mary’s motherhood is “active” precisely because of the “consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect” (Lumen Gentium #62), not by the mode of giving birth. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church regarding Mary’s collaboration in the Incarnation and in the work of the Redemption.

5. Virginitas vs Maternitas. It seems that Fr. Zimmerman was intent on reducing the mystery of the Incarnation to a purely biological level and thus he found the concept of Mary’s virginal maternity unacceptable. He opposed virginity to motherhood in favor of the latter:

When the Word was made Flesh in Mary, her biological features of virginity inevitably gave way and disappeared when new biological indications of motherhood displaced them. In no way whatsoever did the bodily features of motherhood violate Mary’s vow of virginity. … Even after involution was completed the marks of historical motherhood would remain in Mary’s body. Saints tell us that she shows them to Jesus occasionally when she makes a petition with special motherly insistence. …

Mary’s body lost the features of virginity, while her vow remained intact. The loss of the virginal seal was a continuation and term of the other bodily changes from those of a virgin to those of a mother. It was not a special novelty (32).

Both Fr. Zimmerman and Dr. Tkacz related in remarkable detail all of the changes that took place in Mary’s body as if they were eyewitnesses, but my question is “how do they know”? They both assumed that everything had to happen as it happens in every other human birth. They did not advert sufficiently to the fact that they were dealing with the birth of the God-man by the Virgin Mother with seemingly no sense that they were treading on sacred ground? As the Blessed John Paul II reminded us in his discourse at Capua, the Fathers loved to speak of Mary’s virginal motherhood as symbolized by the bush, which burned but was not consumed, before which Moses was commanded to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground (cf. Ex. 3:2-5). It was precisely because of Dr. Albert Mitterer’s biological treatment of the birth of Christ, which questioned Our Lady’s physical integrity and the absence of pain, that the Holy Office issued its warning. (7)

In the attempt to reduce the mystery to a series of biological data, Fr. Zimmerman felt obliged to tell us that these physical changes in Mary’s body did not “violate [her] vow of virginity”, that “the vow remained intact”. But the specific expression of the Church’s faith in this matter is that her “body remained intact”. After having evacuated all meaning from the virginitas in partu, Fr. Zimmerman assured us of the truth of the virginal conception. But the Church has solemnly and explicitly taught that Mary was a virgin before, during and after Christ’s birthsince the Lateran Synod convoked under Pope Saint Martin I in 649. (8)

Furthermore, although Fr. Zimmerman summarily dismissed my reference to the Provincial Council of Capua in 392, there is substantial evidence that this Council and the subsequent Roman Synod in 393 dealt with the virginitas in partu(9).

The John Paul II clearly referred to this in his discourse in Capua.

What does it mean, then, to state that Mary was a virgin during birth if not that the signs of her virginity were left intact?

6. Witness of the Fathers to the Apostolic Tradition. I have already cited Fr. Zimmerman’s specific challenge to me in #1 above. For him the united testimony of the great Fathers of the “golden age” of Greek and Latin patristic literature is not sufficient. This, in itself, is a rather strange way to treat testimony which the Church reveres and in which it finds verification for many of its beliefs including the corporal Assumption of Our Lady into heaven. Fr. Zimmerman requested data from the sub-Apostolic era and from the age of the martyrs. Before addressing myself specifically to this request for data, however, I believe that it is important to heed what is stated about the living Tradition of the Catholic Church in Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation:

The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time. Hence the apostles, in handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to maintain the traditions ,which they had learned either by word of mouth or by letter (cf. 2 Th. 2:15). …

The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts (cf. Lk. 2:19 and 51). It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities, which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth. Thus as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing towards the plenitude of divine truth, until eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her. (10)

In these paragraphs we have two very important assertions: (1) what we have received from the apostolic preaching was handed on in its integrity and (2) by the assistance of the Holy Spirit “there is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on”. On this matter the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a further valuable clarification:

Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (11)

That is precisely what has happened under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the course of the centuries. My point here is that what had already reached a definite maturation in the golden age of the Fathers cannot simply be dismissed. Fr. Zimmerman admitted that “we have reason to ponder their belief with due respect” (33) even if he went on to relativize and minimize it.

7. Early Patristic Evidence for the Virgin Birth. In effect Fr. Zimmerman challenged me to provide data on the virgin birth from the post-apostolic period that would supply a link from the preaching of the Apostles to the golden age of the Fathers. He stresses that the documents of that later period

fall short of teaching explicitly that the birth was miraculous. However, if one is already convinced that the birth was miraculous, then the documents can firm up that belief (33).

My reply is that there certainly is evidence from that earlier period, but like so much material from that early period, it is concise and sometimes fragmentary nature,. A careful discussion of the texts issuing from this early period would require a lengthy separate article. For the sake of brevity I must refer the interested reader to the treatment of the virginitas in partu in this early period in the studies by J. C. Plumpe (12), Philip J. Donnelly, S.J. (13) and Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M. (14)

Here I will limit myself to presenting the testimony of just one of these sub-Apostolic Fathers, but one whose importance can hardly be underestimated, St. Irenaeus of Lyons (+ c. 202). He was a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of John the Apostle, and is regarded by many as “the first theologian in the proper sense of the word” and is thus “considered the father of Catholic dogmatic theology” (15) As he made the classic exposition of the “New Eve” theme whose earliest witness, as far as we know, was St. Justin Martyr, (16) so he also followed Justin in drawing out the teaching on the virgin birth. (17) In his Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, commenting on the text of Is. 7:14, he states:

With regard to his [Christ’s] birth the same prophet says in another place: “Before she came to labor, she gave birth; before the pains came upon her, she delivered a male child” [Is. 66:7], thus proclaiming the unexpected and wondrous character of the birth from the Virgin [inexspectatum et inopinatum per virginem partum eius annuntiavit].(18)

In his major work, Adversus Hæreses, Irenaeus makes this succinct comment on the Incarnation:

For the Word will become flesh and the Son of God will become the Son of man (the Pure One, opening in a pure way the pure womb which regenerates men for God and which he himself has made pure) and he became what we are, as God the strong one, and has an indescribable generation [(purus pure puram aperiens vulvam, eam quæ regenerat homines in Deum, quam ipse puram fecit), et hoc factus quod et nos, Deus fortis est, et inenarrabile habet genus]. (19)

I certainly do not argue that the Church’s belief in the miraculous birth of Christ rises or falls with the witness of Irenaeus, but I do believe that his testimony, even if one admits that the second passage may also be taken in an ecclesiological sense, (20) is of notable value.

8. The Scriptural Data. In #4 above I have already cited Gen. 3:16 and Is. 7:14. In #7 I have just indicated Irenaeus’s use of Is. 66:7. I wish now to consider very briefly some other significant biblical texts and I do so at this point precisely because of my conviction that it is necessary to read the Word of God in the light of the tradition of the Church and under the guidance of the magisterium. (21)

With regard to the Gospel witness, one should not be surprised that the Holy Spirit might continue to bring to light treasures once known to the saints, but overlooked by the “higher critics” who base themselves solely on the “historical-critical” method. In this regard, I find the reasoning of the late Ignace de la Potterie, S.J. on the best translation of Luke 1:35b very cogent:

We discover, however, since the time of the Fathers up to the present, four different versions. One either makes “hagion” (“holy”) the subject and translates as Legrand does: “that is why the holy (child) who is to be born will be called Son of God”; or one makes of “hagios” an attribute of “will be,” as in the Jerusalem Bible and the lectionary: “And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God”; or one also reads “holy” an attribute of “called”; this latter is the translation recently proposed by A. Médebielle in his article “Annunciation” in the Supplément au dictionnaire de la Bible: “This is why the one to be born will be called holy, Son of God.” These are the usual three translations. At the same time there is a fourth possibility which modern authors no longer think of, but which was very popular among the Fathers of the Church and during the Middle Ages. This reading, we think, is philologically the only one that is satisfactory; we then consider “holy,” not as a complement of “will be” (this word is not found in the Greek text), nor of “will be called”; “holy” is rather to be taken as the complement of “will be born.”

The word “holy,” in this instance, informs us about the manner in which the child will be born, that is to say in a “holy” manner. We therefore translate it so: “This is why the one who will be born holy will be called Son of God.” Here it is not question of the future holiness of Jesus: that is totally outside of the perspective of the Annunciation and of the birth of the child. The child of Mary “will be born holy” in the levitical meaning: it is the birth of Jesus that will be “holy”, without blemish, intact, that is “pure” in the ritual sense. If we read the text in this way, we set up here a biblical argument favoring that which the theologians call “virginitas in partu,” the virginity of Mary while giving birth. The message of the angel to Mary contains then not only the announcement of the virginal conception, but also of the virginal birth of Jesus. (22)

Father de la Potterie’s years of patient study have yielded other fruit in this area as well, especially his extensive analysis of John 1:13. Here I can only refer the interested reader to de la Potterie’s own exposition. (23)

9. The Allegorical Sense of Scripture. Here I wish simply to underscore that much of the Patristic treatment of the virginal conception and birth of Christ is based on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, following the tradition, calls the allegorical sense of Scripture. (24) It is precisely the allegorical sense of Scripture that the Roman Catechism proposes with regard to our subject:

Since the mysteries of this admirable conception and nativity are so great and so numerous, it accorded with Divine Providence to signify them by many types and prophecies. Hence the Fathers of the Church understood many things which we meet in the Sacred Scriptures to relate to them, particularly that gate of the Sanctuary which Ezekiel saw closed (see Ezek. 44:2) … Likewise the bush which Moses saw burn without being consumed (see Ex. 3.2). (25)

It is by means of this allegorical sense, as John Saward tells us, that

The Fathers find types of the virginity in partu in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the closed gate of the Temple (cf. Ezek. 44:2) and in the ‘garden enclosed’ and ‘fountain sealed up’ of Solomon’s canticle (cf. Song 4:12). (26)

10. The Virginal Birth of Christ and the Spiritual Birth of Christians. I commend Fr. Zimmerman for concluding his essay with a thought about Mary’s spiritual maternity, even if I do not accept his premise that “If Mary had not given birth to Jesus as mothers do naturally, her life would be (sic) considerably impoverished.” From this restatement of his primary theme he goes on to conclude that having given birth to Jesus in this way makes Mary “to be our mother also, who are brothers and sisters of her Son” (34).

What is missed in this reasoning, however, is that the Church’s teaching on the virginitas in partu effectively reflects the mystery of the eternal generation of the Son in the bosom of the Father (27) whereas our generation differs from his since we are sons by adoption (Gal. 4:4-5), that adoption which was accomplished on Calvary with the full and active cooperation of Mary. These truths are magnificently synthesized in the preface of the second Mass of “Mary at the Foot of the Cross” published in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

In your divine wisdom you planned the redemption of the human race and decreed that the new Eve should stand by the cross of the new Adam: as she became his mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of your love, she was to be a partner in his passion, and she who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church. (28)

 

1. Cf. Fr. Ray Ryland’s treatment of this matter in The Catholic Answer (May/June 2012) 7 and in The Catholic Answer(September/October 2012) 34.

2. Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 85 (1993) 663-664; L’Osservatore Romano (English edition) 1244 [cumulative number] 13.

3. Cf. Ephemerides Mariologicæ 11 (1961) 137-138 [trans. in René Laurentin, A Treatise on the Virgin Mary (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1991) 328-329]. Cf. commentary in Peter D. Fehlner; F.I., Virgin Mother the Great Sign (Washington, NJ: AMI Press, 1993) 19-21.

4. Robert I. Bradley, S.J. and Eugene Kevane (eds.), The Roman Catechism (Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, 1985) 50. Cf. also Treatise 64, 333, 338.

5. Expositio in Apocalypsim 3, 12; PL 117:1081D-1082A [quoted in John Saward, The Way of the Lamb: The Spirit of Childhood and the End of the Age (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1999) 153, n. 9.

6. John Saward, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002) [henceforth referred to as Cradle] 208. Cf. also Cradle 210 n. 123 and Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology trans. by Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 1995) 39-41.

7. Fehlner 1-2, 4-5, 19.

8. Heinrich Denzinger, S.I., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum: Edizione Bilingue (XXXVII) a cura di Peter Hünermann (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2000) #503 [Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (ed.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church Originally Prepared by Josef Neuner, S.J. & Jacques Dupuis; Sixth Revised and Enlarged Edition (New York: Alba House, 1998) #703].

9. Cf. Fehlner 7; Arcidiocesi di Capua, XVI Centenario del Concilio di Capua 392-1992. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di studi Mariologici Capua 19-24 Maggio 1992 (Capua: Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose; Rome: Pontificia Facoltà Marianum, 1993).

10. Dei Verbum #8 [Austin Flannery, O.P., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Vol. I (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Co., 1987) 754].

11. Catechism of the Catholic Church [henceforth referred to as CCC] #66.

12. J. C. Plumpe, “Some Little-Known Early Witnesses to Mary’s Virginitas in Partu,” Theological Studies 9 (1948) 570-577.

13. Philip J. Donnelly, S.J., S.T.D., “The Perpetual Virginity of the Mother of God,” in Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M. (ed.) Mariology, II (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1957), 263-267. It should be noted that there is more detailed documentation on this early period available now than was available when he wrote this article almost fifty years ago.

14. Gabriele M. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza, III (Isola del Liri: Tipografia Editrice M. Pisani, 1969) 386-397.

15. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999) 51.

16. Cf. Gambero 46-48.

17. Cf. Roschini 387-388.

18. Demonstratio Apostolicæ Prædicationis #54 [Domenico Casagrande, Enchiridion Marianum Biblicum Patristicum (Rome: Figlie della Chiesa, 1974) #58].

19. Adversus Hæreses IV, 33, 11 [Patrologia Græca7:1080; [Casagrande #48].

20. Cf. the lengthy note on this text in Enzo Bellini e Giorgio Maschio (a cura di), Ireneo di Lione Contro Le Eresie e Gli Altri Scritti (Milan: Jaca Book, 2003) 620.

21. Cf. Dei Verbum, especially #8 & 23.

22. Ignace de la Potterie, S.J., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant trans. Bertrand Buby, S.M. (New York: Alba House, 1992) [henceforth MMC] 31; cf. his entire treatment of this text MMC 30-33; also Saward, Cradle 208.

23. Cf. “Il parto verginale del Verbo incarnato: ‘Non ex sanguinibus … sed ex Deo natus est’ (Gv 1,13),” Marianum 45 (1983) 127-174; MMC96-122.

24. CCC#115-118.

25. Roman Catechism 50.

26. Cradle 208 and passim 208-217. On the Marian interpretation of Ezek. 44:2, cf. Manelli 75-78. On the Marian interpretation of Song of Songs 4:12, cf. Manelli 73, 365.

27. Cf. Cradle 212-213. The whole book is a marvelous meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation.

28. Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Vol. I: Sacramentary (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1992) 117; original Latin text in Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine I (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1987) 49. Emphasis my own.