Here’s something you may not know about the Catholic Church — you don’t have to be a nun to marry Jesus! You can also be a “woman of the world” (as they say), and get blessed as a “consecrated virgin,” and then also marry Jesus. So long as you are a “perpetual virgin” and have never had sex and never intend to.
This past week, Jennifer Settle became the fifth Philadelphia woman to become a “consecrated virgin.” In an elaborate ceremony — which, yes, involved wearing a wedding gown and walking down the aisle — 45-year-old Settle married Jesus in an elaborate ceremony.
Draped in a billowing white wedding gown, Jennifer Settle stood before the altar of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul holding a small, globed candle. As she took her first step to meet her new husband, the glass slipped off, shattering on the cold marble floor.
But the 45-year-old West Chester woman stayed calm. A moment later, her voice held firm as she sang a pledge to her soon-to-be-husband: “Now with all my heart I follow you. I reverence you and seek your presence.”
As for her groom’s reaction, it was impossible to say for sure. Because on this Thursday evening, before 150 people at the cathedral, Settle was marrying Jesus himself.
There was no mention, in the article, of whether or not Settle was any kind of Bridezilla, or if she got all “THIS IS MY SPECIAL DAY!” about things, although I’d like to think that she did.
The whole “consecrated virgin” thing has a long history in the Catholic Church — with Mary technically being the first one. Some early saints, such as Santa Lucia, St. Agnes, and St. Agatha were also consecrated virgins and all of them have a similar story. Each one decided that she was going to be a consecrated virgin but was so beautiful that dudes who wanted to marry them freaked out and tossed them in brothels. Then, Jesus stepped in and kept all the rapists at bay with magic (in Agnes’s case, hair instantly grew all over her body and anyone who attempted to rape her was struck blind), and they were killed and martyred.
It stopped being a thing for a long while, but resurfaced as a hot trend in the 1970s after the Vatican II decided to bring the rite back in vogue. There are now about 215 consecrated virgins in the United States and 3,000 all over the world, all of whom are married to Jesus. Some of them are also nuns, but many are not. Furthermore, they’re not supported by the Church and must have some other vocation to support themselves. Surprisingly, even with all of those sister wives, things do not get competitive:
Asked about their all being technically married to the same man, [fellow consecrated virgin Sophia] Winiarski smiled and said consecrated virgins experience no jealousy in competing for Jesus’ affection.
“There’s room for all of us, because it’s so awesome,” she said, laughing.
During the ceremony, Settle lay face down on the floor of the basilica, motionless.
A young man in cream-colored robes began a slow recitation: “Lord have mercy.”
The congregation chorused back, “Christ have mercy.”
“St. Michael,” the man intoned, commencing a litany of saints.
After several minutes of the invocation of saints, Settle rose. Chaput, wearing green and white robes, told the assembled, “May nothing tarnish the glory of perfect virginity.”
Which I guess means that Settle and Jesus will not be honeymooning anywhere anytime soon.
(Image via Shutterstock)