PORTLAND — The Rite of Consecration of a Virgin is one of the oldest forms of consecration in the Catholic Church and on Saturday, Sept. 11, it will be renewed by Bishop Robert Deeley during a celebration for Angela McCormick at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. The Mass will be held at 10 a.m., and all are welcome to attend. The Mass will also be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/PortlandCathedral and www.portlandcatholic.org/online-Mass.

During the rite, a woman resolves to live in a “holy state of virginity” and is “betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God.” The consecration confers upon the virgin the dignity of becoming the bride of Jesus Christ. During the consecration ceremony, the candidate, who wears a bride-like, white dress, makes life-long chastity vows and promises never to engage in sexual or romantic relationships. The woman also wears a wedding ring, a symbol of their betrothal to Christ. By legend, it was St. Matthew himself who is credited with consecrating the first virgin, believed to have been Iphigenia, along with some of her companions.

It was most prevalent in the early Church but declined in popularity when religious orders were introduced. While religious sisters and consecrated virgins both pledge their lives to Christ, religious sisters live in community with a shared charism, while consecrated virgins live as individuals, combining their secular work lives with a commitment to prayer and service.

“Consecrated virgins pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day, having a special solicitude in prayer for the Church and her priests; spend time in works of penance and mercy; and pattern their lives on the example of the hidden life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Virgins,” said McCormick.  “Those who consecrate their virginity under the impetus by the Holy Spirit do so for the sake of becoming immersed in a more fervent love of Christ.”

It is a solemn rite in which the candidate is consecrated after petitioning the local bishop and following a time of scrutiny and examination. The consecration is permanent and cannot be dispensed. There are now several thousand consecrated virgins living in the world, serving as living, transcendent signs of the Church’s love for Christ.

A reception will follow the Mass at the Cathedral on Sept. 11. If you plan to attend the reception, please email angelamccorm@gmail.com.