The ancient Hellenist and Latin world extolled virgins and the idea of consecrated virginity. We see a non-Israelite contempt, even disgust, for woman's God-given role as mother in the writings of certain church fathers, culminating in the unscriptural doctrines of orthodox Christianity. Today we are more aware of human psychological processes and even a modest acquaintance with some of these revered writings is likely to provoke feelings of an opposite but equal disgust.
Cloaked as they may be in pious platitudes and mystical mumblings, the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church had their wellspring in this ancient revulsion for woman's role and the natural processes of childbirth.
Recently, Pope Benedict greeted 500 consecrated virgins in Rome:
"The call to consecrated virginity has roots in the beginnings of evangelical life, and the Virgin Mary was its first fulfillment, affirmed Benedict XVI. The Pope stated this today when he greeted 500 consecrated virgins today who have gathered in Rome for an international congress..."
It is to be hoped that the "500 consecrated virgins" were totally deficient in the history department because the Pope was certainly being dishonest - consecrated "Vestal Virgins" existed in the very same city, Rome, long before Mary the mother of Jesus was even born.
"The Order of Virgins represents a particular form of consecrated life which flowered anew in the Church after Vatican Council II," the Pontiff explained. "However, it has ancient roots that go back to the beginnings of evangelical life when, in an unprecedented novelty, the hearts of certain women began to open to a desire for consecrated virginity: in other words, the desire to give one's entire being to God, which had had its first extraordinary fulfillment in the Virgin of Nazareth and her 'yes.'"
The "Virgin of Nazareth and her 'yes'" to come...