Catholic churchmen continue to reflect on the mystery of Mary’s virginity although there is unanimity that she only gave birth to Jesus. The other children may have been cousins or children of Joseph from a previous bond; some Church fathers spoke about Joseph as an older man and widower. While there is biblical reference to Jesus’ Mother and his brothers and sisters, note the texts never indicate that Mary is the mother of these brethren.
Virginity was associated with holiness and purity going back to Old Testament days. While it was insisted that it should be brought to the marriage bed undefiled, the emphasis was fruitfulness and progeny. The promiscuous woman was damaged goods and unclean. The barren woman was cursed. We see this latter sentiment with Abraham and Sarah and in the New Testament with Zachariah and Elizabeth. Sacred tradition indicates a similar situation with St. Ann. These women rejoiced because God gave them a child and took away their shame.
“Sons are a birthright from Yahweh, children are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).
“Your wife will be a fruitful vine within your house: your children will be like olive shoots around your table…may you see your children’s children” (Psalm 128: 3,6).