The Miraculous Birth of the Lord

Updated: May 30, 2020

“Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, facing the east; but it was closed. He said to me: ‘This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed'” (Ezekiel 44)… Who is this gate, if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when he was brought forth in the virginal birth, and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity (quando virginali fusus est partu, et genitalia virginitatis claustra non solvit)…. There is a gate of the womb, although it is not always closed; indeed only one was able to remain closed, that through which the One born of the Virgin came forth without the loss of genital intactness (per quam sine dispendio claustrorum genitalium virginis partus exivit).

– St. Ambrose, De institutione virginum.

It has been the Church’s consistent Tradition that Our Lady gave birth to Jesus in a “miraculous manner,” in full understanding of the dogmatic teaching that Mary was virginal before, during and after the birth of Jesus Christ (Pope Martin I, First Lateran Council, 649). Mary’s virginity during the birth (virginitas in partu) has been explained by the Fathers of the Church with the following analogy: As light passes through glass without harming the glass, so too Jesus passed through the womb of Mary in a miraculous manner without any harm to Mary’s physical virginity.

The miraculous birth of Jesus was the near unanimous teaching of the Fathers, and was specifically defended by St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the medieval theological tradition. The Magisterium of the Church also refers to the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943, and Lumen Gentium 57) acknowledging that the birth of Our Lord “did not diminish Mary’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.” This is also confirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 499.

Without question the miraculous birth of Jesus represents the Traditional teaching of the Catholic Church, as well as the only proper and logical understanding of the dogmatic definition of Mary’s virginity during the birth of Christ. Moreover, it follows that Mary would give birth to Jesus without the pains of labor, since pain in giving birth was a punishment due to sin, a punishment and effect from which Mary was preserved in virtue of her Immaculate Conception. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, as well as St. Augustine, St. Thomas and theological tradition, likewise confirm Mary’s giving birth to Jesus without pain.

These truths are also verified in the mystical tradition of the Church. We here present the combined mystical accounts of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau, St. Bridget of Sweden, Bl. Mother Agreda, and Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich on the mystical birth of Jesus Christ. – Ed.

After reciting some prayers together with Mary, St. Joseph filled the manger with straw and moss and placed a cloth over it. Then he withdrew to the entrance of the cave. Looking back, he saw the holy Mother of God praying on her knees, surrounded by flames of dazzling supernatural light. Filled with reverent fear, he threw himself down on the ground and was soon rapt in an ecstatic sleep.

Mary was kneeling, with her eyes raised to Heaven and her hands joined on her breast. Her countenance emitted rays of light, like the sun incarnadined, and shone in indescribable earnestness and majesty, all inflamed with burning love of God. Her body became so spiritualized with the beauty of Heaven that she seemed no more a human and earthly creature.

Toward midnight a channel of brilliant light came down from the highest heaven and terminated in sparkling fire at the Blessed Virgin. In it was an extraordinary movement of celestial glories which took on the forms of choirs of angels.

Then, in the twinkling of an eye, the infant God was born, glorious and transfigured as on Mount Tabor.

There the God-Man lay, naked, utterly clean and pure. And from Him radiated such marvelous light and splendor that the sun could not be compared to it. The angels could be heard gently singing canticles of wonderful sweetness.

When the holy Mother of God perceived that she had been delivered—for her child came forth without any pain or injury to her—she immediately bowed her head, placed a cloth over His tiny body, and adored Him with the greatest respect and reverence, saying:

“Welcome, my God, and my Lord, and my Son!”

Then the divine Child suspended the effects of His transfiguration and assumed the appearance of one capable of suffering. The Babe now moved, shivered with cold, and stretching forth His little arms, cried out.