Following the traditions from the beginning of the Church, the Archdiocese of Dublin has a number of women who have consecrated their virginity to Christ and to the service of the Church. They were accepted to the life of virginity by a bishop who consecrated them publicly during a special ceremony.
The most ancient consecration rite in the Church dates back to the year 353. The new rite was promoted by the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in May 31, 1970 and made possible for women living in the world to receive consecration. This rite “is one of the most precious treasures in the Roman liturgy” (Decree from May 31st 1970).
The order of virgins is laid down in the Code of Canon Law in the article 604.
§1. Similar to these forms of consecrated life is the order of virgins, who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.
§2. In order to observe their commitment more faithfully and to perform by mutual support service to the Church which is in harmony with their state these virgins can form themselves into associations.
The Ordo Virginum has no other founder than the Church, which took inspiration from the life of the Spouse himself our Lord Jesus Christ and from the life of the Virgin Mary. As distinct of the religious orders and secular institutes the Ordo Virginum has no firm rules or structures of a common life but “virgins can be associated together to fulfil their pledge more faithfully and to assist each other to serve the Church in a way that befits their state” (Art. 604, B). They live in the world without “being from the world”.
The 1970 Prænotanda to the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity states the following requirements for women living in the world to receive the consecration:
“that they have never married or lived in open violation of chastity; that, by their prudence and universally approved character, they give assurance of perseverance in a life of chastity dedicated to the service of the church and of their neighbour; that they be admitted to this Consecration by the Bishop who is the local Ordinary.”
The approved liturgical rite whereby the bishop consecrates the candidate is by the solemn rite of Consecratio Virginium (Consecration of Virgins). The usual minister of the rite of consecration is the bishop who is the local ordinary. Henceforth, the woman is committed, not only to perpetual virginity, but to leading a life of prayer and service, and is “strongly advised” to observe the Liturgy of the Hours. Consecrated virgins belong to consecrated life. They are not supported financially by their bishop, but must provide for their own upkeep. These women work in various professions. For more information about the Order of Virgins, the following website is a great resource: