Friday, May 22, 2009

The Forever Virgins

"Even before the Catholic Church had nuns, it had consecrated virgins. And, today, women like Kathy Reda are choosing and reviving this largely forgotten vocation. They're walking down the aisle and betrothing themselves to God.

It was a large wedding, even by modern-day standards. Some 600 guests filled the pews at Dedham's imposing St. Mary of the Assumption Church on a Friday evening last August. The clergy had turned out in full force: 10 priests, a bishop, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, head of the Boston Archdiocese, processed up the main aisle -- said to be the longest of any in Massachusetts -- some sprinkling incense as the choir sang. At last came the bride, dressed in white lace, her only jewelry a simple gold cross on a chain. She smiled widely and carried a single red rose, and when she reached the front pew, she took a few deep breaths, as though to steady herself.

But no bridegroom waited at the altar. Kathy Reda, an emergency room nurse at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, was about to make a promise of perpetual virginity and become mystically betrothed to Jesus..."

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