Church Documents

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council
1964 - Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy):
80. The rite for the consecration of virgins at present found in the Roman Pontifical is to be revised.

Can. 604 §1. Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins who, expressing the holy resolution of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are mystically betrothed to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.

§2. In order to observe their own resolution more faithfully and to perform by mutual assistance service to the Church in harmony with their proper state, virgins can be associated together.

§3. The recognition and establishment of such associations at the diocesan level belongs to the diocesan bishop, within his own territory, at the national level it belongs to the episcopal conference, within its own territory.

1988 - Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus

Art. 110 - The Congregation [for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life] has competence also regarding eremetical life, the order of virgins and their associations as well as other forms of consecrated life.

922. From apostolic times Christian virgins, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in a state of virginity “for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.”

923. ‘Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.’ By this solemn rite (Consecratio Virginum), the virgin is ‘constituted…a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.’

924. ‘As with other forms of consecrated life,’ the order of virgins established the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state in life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully.

7. It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times. Consecrated by the diocesan Bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world. Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom.

2004 - Apostolorum Successores (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops):

104. Consecrated Women - An inestimable service is given to the Church in countless ways by consecrated women in religious institutes, in societies of apostolic life, in secular institutes, and in the order of virgins, and it is hoped that in the future this service will expand even further. For this reason, the Bishop takes special care to provide suitable and, if possible, abundant resources for their spiritual growth, their Christian instruction, and their cultural enrichment.

The Bishop should show particular concern for the order of virgins, who are dedicated to the service of the Church, entrusted to the Bishop’s pastoral care and consecrated to God at his hands. Bearing in mind the formation needs of consecrated women today, not dissimilar to those of consecrated men, the Bishop should assign chaplains and confessors to them from among the best at his disposal, distinguished by a good understanding of consecrated life and by their piety, sound doctrine, ecumenical and missionary spirit.

The Bishop should also be vigilant that consecrated women are given sufficient opportunities for participation in different diocesan structures, such as diocesan and parish pastoral councils, where these exist, in the various diocesan commissions and delegations, and in the direction of apostolic and educational initiatives in the diocese. They should also be involved in decision making processes, especially in matters directly affecting them. In this way they can bring to the service of God’s people their particular sensitivities and their missionary fervor, their unique gifts and the fruits of their experience.

2018 - Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, an Instruction on the Ordo virginum

About this list:

This page includes the non-liturgical magisterial documents directly pertaining to the specific vocation of consecrated virginity lived “in the world.”

However, in addition to these documents, there are also magisterial documents which consider consecrated virginity in the much wider and more inclusive sense of the term, in the context of discussions on other forms of consecrated life or of consecrated life in general. (One example being the 1954 encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas.)

There are also some more pastoral and less juridically oriented writings from within the Church on consecrated virginity, such as the various homilies and addresses given to consecrated virgins by recent Popes (e.g., the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the 2008 international pilgrimage of the Order of Virgins) and the writings of the Church Fathers.

Finally, there are important liturgical sources, such as the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity (promulgated in 1970) and the Ceremonial of Bishops (promulgated in 1984), which give us some authoritative directives and which outline and describe the theological nature of consecrated virginity as a state in life.