The virgin who has received the consecration of virgins living in the world through her bishop is a spouse of Christ, a living sign of the Church as virgin-bride and virgin-mother. In receiving the consecration, she commits to maintaining perpetual virginity and becomes a member of the consecrated state. While she does not take vows, she joyfully lives a life of intercessory prayer for the people of God, especially for the people of her diocese.
Consecrated virgins “in the world” (as opposed to those who are religious or canonical hermits) are not bound to follow any particular way of life. An analogy can be made that they are like “married women” in the world. Their Spouse is Jesus Christ. They usually wear ordinary attire and their consecration is signified usually by the wedding band they receive on the day of their consecration. Because consecrated virgins support themselves, many are employed in different fields such as teaching, fire fighting, diocesan offices, etc.
Q. Aren’t nuns consecrated virgins?
A. The term “consecrated virgin” in its strict sense is reserved to those who have received the consecration of virgins from their bishop. Some religious sisters and diocesan hermits have received this consecration. Other virgins live individually “in the world” under the direction of their bishop.
Q. Is a consecrated virgin a lay woman?
A. Not unless “lay” is understood to mean “non-clerical”. Consecrated virgins are in the consecrated state by virtue of their public consecration of canon 604. Therefore, the consecrated virgin is not a laywoman.
Q. Is a consecrated virgin supposed to obey someone?
A. If the consecrated virgin is a religious, her superior is her superior in religious life. If the consecrated virgin is a diocesan hermit, her superior is the diocesan bishop. If the consecrated virgin is one “living in the world”, she has no superior (since she is not bound by a vow of obedience), but follows the directives of her bishop in how her vocation is to be lived out.
Q. Can a consecrated virgin be a “renewed virgin”?
A. According to the Vatican, physical virginity that is not lost voluntarily (rape and incest are involuntary) is required because the virgin signifies by both her body and soul the virgin Church. A woman who has voluntarily lost her virginity may be eligible for other forms of consecrated life if there is no danger of scandal, but is ineligible for this consecration.
Q. May a male become a consecrated virgin?
A. The consecration of virgins is reserved for female virgins only.
Q. Do consecrated virgins become consecrated through their vows?
A. The bishop acts in the place of God, consecrating the virgin body and soul as the bride of Christ. It is through this consecration found in the Roman Pontifical that the virgin is set aside as a “sacred person” and is brought into the consecrated state. In contrast, other forms of consecrated life entail vows or promises made to God, which are accepted in His name by the appropriate Church authorities, and are thus brought into the consecrated state.
Q. Who do I talk to if I want to become a consecrated virgin in the Diocese of Sioux Falls?
A. You are free to approach any member of the Vocations Team. In particular, you may find it helpful to discuss vocational questions with Therese Ivers, who assists women with their discernment. If you would like to know more about the vocation, you may want to check out www.consecratedvirgins.org.
Consecrated Virgins from the State of South Dakota:
Susan Safford in the Diocese of Rapid City, SD, was consecrated in 2006.
Kerry Kober of Rapid City, SD, was consecrated February 11 of 1999 in Denver, CO.
Therese Ivers in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, was consecrated August 15, 2009.