The Vatican Publishes the Rite of Consecrated Virginity

A consecrated virgin is a woman who never married and has dedicated to God her perpetual virginity.

The Vatican has given published instructions to Rite of Consecrated Virginity or Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, concerning the state of life for consecrated virgins and diocesan bishops' responsibility towards consecrated virgins' vocation. It is now 50 years since Pope Paul VI gave his consent to revive this ancient order. These instructions provide answers to requests made by bishops to clarify the role and aims of such consecrated virgins.

The July 4 instruction was issued by Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The latter estimates that there are over 5,000 consecrated virgins settled all over the globe. The consecration and perpetual virginity life are permanent. It is to be noted that consecrated virgins are normally employed and hold jobs like an average person. They financially support themselves.

A consecrated virgin is a woman who never married and has dedicated to God her perpetual virginity. She is subsequently set apart as a sacred individual who belongs to Jesus Christ within the folds of the Catholic Church.

The document provides clear instructions when it comes to prerequisites, regulation, and formation of the consecrated virgins. The documentation is also provided. Only if these instructions are followed can one be considered as belonging to ecclesial "Ordo virginum" or in plain English the "Order of Virgins." The diocesan bishop oversees all the activities. Duties of all those consecrated are spelled out by Jose Rodriguez Carballo, the archbishop and secretary of the congregation for consecrated life. He said that women who belong to this particular order must dedicate themselves to works of mercy, penance, prayer and to the apostolate. Every woman should choose as per own charisms. All must accept the Gospel as the fundamental part of their life.

As per Code of Canon Law, the woman who prefers this vocation should be consecrated to the Almighty via the diocesan bishop. This is a church-approved practice and cannot be changed under any circumstances.

All consecrated women are betrothed by mystical means to Jesus Christ. They became dedicated to church life, although they continue to be in public life. It is to be noted that consecrated virgins live alone. They could, however, opt for community living with the other consecrated victims. They expect to receive guidance from a bishop. The local diocese is not responsible to financially support them. The responsibility of the bishop includes overseeing the formation and preparation prior to consecration.

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