Long before the emergence of religious life, consecrated virgins and widows had a distinctive identity
in the Church. St Paul describes women who remained unmarried and devoted themselves to prayer
(1 Corinthians 7) and records the personal qualities required to be eligible to be ‘enrolled’ as a widow
(1 Timothy 5). However, as communal forms of consecrated life gradually became the central form of ecclesial consecration, these ancient Orders disappeared.
Consecrated virgins today are women who have never married and are consecrated to perpetual virginity, to a life of prayer and penance, and to the service of the Church under the guidance of their local bishop. Because consecrated virgins have no rule or community, own their own property and care for their personal needs, it is particularly important that those who are discerning this state of life are mature and self-reliant women. There are currently approximately 200 consecrated virgins in the UK.
While the numbers of those seeking consecration as widows and widowers appears to be growing, there is not currently a rite in the Western Church for this particular form of consecration.
To become a Consecrated Virgin, Widow / Widower, or Hermit, you need to contact your diocesan Bishop.