How were Mary and Joseph validly married?

The idea that Mary would have had other chidren would seem to violate the unique relationship She had with Jesus but I have two problems:

  1. The Angel tells St. Joseph not to be afraid to take unto him Mary as his wife. To take a woman as one’s wife normally implies marital relations.

  2. It is my understanding that in Canon Law a marriage which is ratified but not consumated would be classified as null and void, especially if the parties had no intention from the outset of ever consumating the marriage as would have been the case with Our lady and St. Joseph. I don’t know what would have been the form used in the wedding of Our Lady and St. Joseph but the promise “to have and to hold” refers to marital relations.

Thus, may we say that the marriage of Our Lady and St. Joseph was truly valid?

Dear L,

When a husband and wife are validly married, they are validly married. When they consummate the marriage they complete or ratify it. But even before the marriage is consummated it is valid. Mary and Joseph were validly married.

Canon 1142 states that a marriage that has not been consummated may be dissolved by the Roman Pontiff, but it must be done for a just cause. Otherwise, the marriage is valid.

While taking a woman as one’s wife ordinarily means having intercourse with her, this marriage was not the norm. Remember, God makes the rules. He can do things however He wants.

By the way, “to have and to hold” can simply mean to have and to hold.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.