Saint Ildefonso of Toledo: defender of the virginity of Mary

Born in Toledo, around 607, of Gothic parents, he was first a monk then Abbot of the Abbey of Saint-Cosme-et-Saint-Damien d’Agali, near Toledo. He then became Archbishop of Toledo in 657. He died in 667. He wrote a Defense of the perpetual virginity of Mary. This writing ends with a long prayer of which here are some passages.

Oh ! I beg you, holy Virgin, make me receive Jesus, from the Spirit by whose operation you gave birth to Jesus. May my soul possess Jesus, thanks to the Spirit by which you conceived the same Jesus. May it be given to me to know Jesus by the Spirit who gave you the ability to possess and give birth to Jesus. May my lowliness be able to speak of the greatness of Jesus through the Spirit in whom you recognize yourself as the servant of the Lord, desiring that it be done to you according to the word of the angel. That I love Jesus in the Spirit in whom you adore him as your Lord, and regard him as your son. Let me fear Jesus as truly as he, being God, was subject to his parents.

O the most beautiful honor to my freedom! O the most magnificent title of nobility! O the glorious and firm guarantee of my greatness, ending in eternal glory! In my sad decline, I would aspire to become, for my reparation, the servant of the Mother of my Lord! Formerly separated, in our first father, from the communion of angels, I would deserve to be the servant of the servant and of the mother of my Creator!

Grant me, Jesus, God Son of Man; give me, Lord of all things and son of your servant; give me this gift, God humbled in man, allow me, man raised to God, by believing in the birth of the Virgin, to be filled with faith in your Incarnation, by speaking of virginal maternity , to have your mouth filled with your praise, loving your Mother to be filled with your love.

May I serve your Mother in such a way that you yourself recognize me as your servant; may she be my sovereign in the age so that you may be my Lord for eternity. See with what impatience I desire to be the servant of this sovereign, with what fidelity I give myself up to the attraction of her servitude. (…)

Understand, wise men of this world, that makes senseless in the eyes of divine wisdom what makes you wise in the eyes of your foolishness. (…) You who do not accept that Mary is still a virgin; (…) who tarnish her glory by denying her the incorruptibility of the flesh, who do not honor the Mother of the Lord, in order to honor God her Son. (…)

To be the devoted servant of her own Son, I aspire to become the servant of the Mother. For to serve the servant is also to serve the Lord; what is given to the Mother reflects on the Son, going from the nurse to the one whom she has fed, and the king sees falling on him the honor which the servant renders to the queen.

Blessing with the angels, singing my joy with the voices of the angels, exulting with the angelic hymns, rejoicing with the acclamations of the angels, I bless with my sovereign, I sing my joy with her who is the Mother of her Lord, I exults with her who is the servant of her Son. I rejoice with her who has become the Mother of my Creator; with her in whom the Word became flesh.

Because with her I believed what she knows herself with me, because I knew that she is the Virgin-Mother, the Virgin who gives birth, because I know that conception does not nothing causes her to lose her virginity, because I have learned that an immutable virginity preceded her childbirth, because I am certain that her child has preserved the glory of virginity for her, all this fills me with love, because I know that it was for me that all this was done.

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Saint Ildefonso of Toledo: defender of the virginity of Mary

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