By Scot Terry Grins2Go (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Scot Terry Grins2Go (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

After years of praying and soul-searching Jessica Hayes becomes the newest consecrated virgin by marrying Jesus Christ at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

On August 15, Jessica Hayes became the newest consecrated virgin by marrying Jesus Christ. The wedding ceremony took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is the first of its kind for the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese and definitely a unique ceremony to experience for the hundreds of people who attended because of interest to witness the rites.

The 38-year-old theology teacher said that such decision took years of praying and soul-searching “I had been praying about it for years, trying to seek God’s will for my life and not really finding it in any of the paths that I sought before.” She has always wanted to live, teach and serve God but can’t live inside the convent like a nun. Thus, being a consecrated virgin offers the “best of both worlds.”

The ceremony is similar to other Catholic wedding only that the groom is physically absent and that it is symbolic in nature. Hayes wore a wedding dress, veil, and a symbolic ring. Part of the ceremony is for her to lie prostrate before the altar. Similar to all other brides she has to carefully choose a beautiful yet appropriate outfit for the occasion. She eventually wore a sleeved white dress, nude colored heels, and a simple hairdo in loose curls.
Hayes was also surprised by the huge crowd in attendance. She hopes that her decision to become committed to Jesus Christ and God will inspire others especially those who are also interested in the idea of marrying Christ. She cites “So – it’s one more step in that direction that others expect this way of life from me and I need to live consistently in my words and actions that love for Jesus. I’m so happy to have had so many witnesses because there may be others that the Lord is calling in this way that have now heard of this life and can consider it in their prayer.”

Understanding the concept of consecrated virgins

In the Catholic Church, consecrated virgins are those who made a vow to become celibate or virgin for the rest of their lives. It is usually represented by the woman’s symbolic marriage to Jesus Christ. It’s somewhat similar to becoming a nun but has certain distinctions. Unlike nuns, they don’t have to live inside the convent and they also don’t have any particular obligation in the church. However, they are free to work inside the church or volunteer to their diocese’s programs or activities.

It’s an ancient religious practice but was only revived in the recent decades during the time of Pope Paul VI. At the moment, there are only 3500 consecrated virgins worldwide and in the United States, it’s around 230. Although the church requires women interested with the consecration to be mature and has never had sex, there’s actually no physical examination proving the fact. Women who were victims of sexual abuse can also be consecrated.

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