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Ever Virgin

Among the venerable titles bestowed upon the Blessed Mother by Catholic and Orthodox traditions over the centuries is that of the "Ever Virgin." This expression captures theological meanings regarding Mary's perpetual virginity before, during and after the birth of Christ. 

This position gained widespread acceptance since logically Mary's purity suited the dignity of bearing God Incarnate. While virginity itself wasn't necessary for Jesus' ministry, it proved fitting for one called to such divine maternity, foreshadowing the life-giving eternal union between Christ and his spotless Bride, the Church.

The earliest references to the Virgin Mary with the title "Ever Virgin" (Aeiparthenos in Greek or Semper Virgo in Latin) date back to the ecclesial writings of the 2nd to 4th century:

  • One of the first known instances is from the Protoevangelium of James (c. 150 AD), which calls Mary the “eternal virgin” whose purity was consecrated to God from birth.

  • In the early 3rd century, Hippolytus of Rome referred to Mary as “that virgin undefiled, that virgin whom grace made immortal, for sin did not list in her.”

  • Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296 – 373 AD) wrote around 353 AD that “Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus.”

  • Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 310–320 – 403 AD) also professed belief in "Mary's virginity before and after childbirth" as testified by the early Hebrew followers of Jesus.  

  • Augustine around 390 AD declared Mary "a Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual."


From a very early period, eminent church fathers and theologians like Athanasius and Augustine firmly articulated the doctrine of Mary as semper virgo or ever virgin - one who miraculously conceived, gave birth as a virgin and remained in perpetual maidenly purity before, during and after parturition. This view became widely held among orthodox Christians.

The Lateran Synod of 649 officially affirmed the doctrine of Mary “Ever Virgin”, rejecting objections as heresy.

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