The Fathers on the Ever-Virginity of Mary

Post by
Ambrose Andreano

Quotes from the fathers about the ever-virginity of Mary

Protoevangelium of James [AD 120]
And the priest said to Joseph, 'You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.' But Joseph refused, saying, 'I have children and am an old man.' (Protoevangelium of James, 9)
Irenaeus of Lyons [AD 202]
Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless remaining a Virgin, and being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole  human race. -Against Heresies, Book 3.
Hippolytus of Rome [AD 235]
But the pious confession of the believer is that, with a view to our   salvation... the Creator of all things incorporated with Himself a rational soul and a sensible body from the All-Holy Mary, Ever-Virgin, by an immaculate conception, without change, and was made man in nature, but separate from wickedness; the same was perfect God, and the same was perfect Man; the same was in nature at once perfect God and Man." -Against Beron and Helix
Origen of Alexandria [AD 248]
The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married  before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in  virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to  minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after  the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed  her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first  fruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity,  and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other  than to her the first fruit of virginity. -Commentary on Matthew, 10.17.
Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus. -Commentary on John, 1.6.
Hilary of Poitiers [AD 354]
"If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary's sons and not those taken from Joseph's former marriage, she would never have been given   over in the moment of the Crucifixion to the Apostle John as his mother,   the Lord saying to each, 'Woman, behold your son!' And to John,  'Behold  your mother!', as He bequeathed affectionate love to a disciple  as a  consolation to the one desolate."
-Commentary on Matthew 1:4
Athanasius of Alexandria [AD 360]
"Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to His Essence deny also that He took true human flesh from the Ever-Virgin Mary." -Discourse Against the Arians, 2:70
Ephrem the Syrian [AD 373]
"Because there are those who dare to say that Mary cohabited with Joseph after she bore the Redeemer, we reply, 'How would it have been possible for her who was the home of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom the Divine Power overshadowed, that she be joined by a mortal being, and   gave birth filled with birth-pangs, in the image of the primeval curse?' If Mary was blessed of women, she would have been exempt from the  curse  from the beginning, and from the bearing of children in  birth-pangs and  curses. It would be impossible therefore to call one  who gave birth  with these birth-pangs 'blessed.'" -Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron
Epiphanius of Salamis (AD 375)
"And to holy Mary, [the title] 'Virgin' is invariably added, for that holy woman remains undefiled." -Medicine Chest Against All Heresies, 78:6.
Basil of Caesarea [AD 379]
"The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a Virgin." -Homily on the Holy Birth of Christ, 5
Jerome of Stridon [AD 383]
"Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many other Apostolic and eloquent men, who, against Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man." -Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, 19
Didymus the Blind [AD 386]
"It helps us to understand the terms 'first-born' and 'only-begotten' when the Evangelist tells that Mary remained a virgin, 'until she brought forth her first-born son'; for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone else, nor did she ever become the mother of anyone else, but even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin." -The Trinity, 3:4
Liborius of Le Mans [AD 396]
"We confess, therefore, that our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before the ages, in times most recent, was made man of the Holy Spirit and the Ever-Virgin Mary." -Document of Ammendment, 3.
Ambrose of Milan [AD 397]
“Who is this gate [Ezekiel 44:1-4], 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.” -De Institutione Vilginum
"Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son." -Letters, 63:111.
"Why is it hard to believe that Mary gave birth in a way contrary to the  law of natural birth and remained a virgin, when contrary to the law of nature the sea looked at Him and fled, and the waters of the Jordan returned to their source?" -Synodal Letter, 44.
Pope Siricius I [AD 392]
"You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born  according  to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if He had ever judged that she would be so  incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the  birthplace of the  Lord's Body, that court of the Eternal King." -Letter to Bishop Anysius
Gregory of Nyssa [AD 394]
"For if Joseph had taken her to be his wife for the purpose of having children, then why would she have wondered at the announcement of maternity since she herself would have accepted becoming a mother according to the law of nature?" -On the Holy Generation of Christ, 5.
John Chrysostom [AD 407]
"And when he had taken her, 'he knew her not until she had brought forth her first-born Son.' He had here used the word 'until' not that you should  suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform you that  before  the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, did he use the word 'until?' Because it is usual in Scripture, often, to do this, and to use this expression without  reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark, likewise, it is said, 'The raven returned not until the earth was dried up.' And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the  Scripture says, 'From age until age Thou art.' It is not fixing limits in this case. And again, when it is preaching the Gospel  beforehand, saying, 'In His days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away.' It does not set a  limit to this  fair part of creation." -Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily 5.
Mary of Egypt [AD 421]
"O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honor or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy icon, O Ever-Virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity." -Prayer of Saint Mary of Egypt
Augustine of Hippo [AD 430]
"In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew Who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve of virginity rather than to impose it. And He wanted virginity to be a free choice even in that woman in whom He took upon Himself the form of a slave." -Holy Virginity, 4:4.
"A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual." -Sermons, 186:1
“It is written [Ezekiel 44, 2]: ‘This gate shall be shut, it shall not  be opened, and no man shall pass through it. Because the Lord the God of  Israel hath entered in by it…’ What means this closed gate in the house  of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it  mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not  know her? And what is this – ‘The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by  it,’ except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord  of Angels shall be born of her? And what means this – ‘It shall be shut  for evermore,’ but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in  His birth, and a Virgin after His birth.” -De Annunt. Dom. 3
Peter Chrysologus [AD 432]
"Who are they who think that the Virgin's conceiving and the Virgin's giving birth are just like those of other women? Theirs is of the Earth, hers  is of Heaven. Hers is by Divine Power, theirs by human  weakness... A Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remains." -Sermons, 117.
Cyril of Alexandria [AD 430]
"The Word Himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for Himself His own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly He was true God. Therefore, He kept His mother a virgin even after her childbearing." -Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, 4.
Pope Leo the Great [AD 450]
" Divine Power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained." -Sermons, 22:2.
John of Damascus [AD 749]
"The Ever-Virgin thus remains after birth a virgin still, having never at any time up until death consorted with a man." -Concerning our Lord's Genealogy and Concerning the Holy Mother of God

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