How Did Mary Remain a Virgin with the Birth of Jesus?

Dear Catholic Exchange,

There is a concern from one member of my prayer group regarding how Jesus was born. In the movie The Nativity Story, Mary delivered baby Jesus through the birth canal. She said that Mary remained a virgin and could not have delivered Jesus through the birth canal. She read the revelation of the Blessed Mother to Maria de Agreda that Jesus came out through her belly. Is this true?

Thank you and God bless you all for this wonderful work of yours.


Dear Mayang,

Peace in Christ!

Our Faith Fact Mary's Perpetual Virginity provides an explanation for this frequently asked question (here is an excerpt):

"The Church has traditionally understood Mary's virginity in partu (during birth) as meaning that Jesus passed from His Mother's womb into the light of day without the womb being opened and consequently without the destruction of the physical signs of virginity possessed by one who is virgin in conception. Secondly, Mary's virginity in partu involves the absence of labor pains and usual infirmities (e.g., rupturing, bleeding, etc.) involved in gestation. It was, in reality, a miraculous birth, which relates more to her role in the New Creation (and thus her Immaculate Conception and Assumption) rather than her virginity before and after."

I've heard the birth described as "light through a glass." I think, though, that the birth was miraculous, and eludes our complete understanding.

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Information Specialist
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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  • Guest

    I appreciate your answer, but somehow it seems incomplete. Technically, virginity has to do with not having had sexual intercourse. The Oxford Dictionary describes a virgin as “1. A person who has never had sexual intercourse 2. Christ’s mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.” This has nothing to do with whether or not a baby was birthed in a “natural” way through the birth canal. Mary could have given birth as any other woman and still remained a virgin.

    Also, we should consider what it means for Jesus to have been born, “according to the flesh.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

    “CCC 461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

    If Jesus has a truly human nature and was “born” as the Catechism says, he could (I didn’t say had to be) have been born like all men. Mary’s virginity would not have been affected. Thanks and God Bless