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I've seen many posts here from Catholics describing Mary as the spouse or wife of the Holy Spirit. Catholic Answers calls it a "pious custom".

Is this official Catholic dogma? If so, when was it formally defined? If it isn't, then how widely supported is it? Where along the path to dogma described by this question is this belief?

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It is not dogma

Were it a dogma you'd find a record of it at the Pope's official web site.

Ludwig Ott states in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma that,

"The Church honours her on account of her position as Mother of God, and on account of her high endowment with grace deriving from her position as daughter of the Heavenly Father and Spouse of the Holy Ghost." (Part 3 {The Mother of the Redeemer}, Chapter 1, Section 2 (p. 196))

Ott does not list it as a dogma of the church. (thank you, @zippy2006) (Nor does Denzinger clearly identify this pious belief as a dogma).

The two dogmas most recently published, and in these two cases pronounced ex cathedra, concerning Mary are the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. We have Q&A on both of those topics. That they are both alluded to during Adoration seems to bear on your question. Remember that the Church won't endorse polygamy. During the holy hour of Adoration (which has seen a revival ever since John Paul II became pope), during the Reposition the faithful pray The Divine Praises

Blessed be God. Blessed be his holy name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Blessed be the name of Jesus. Blessed be his most Sacred Heart. Blessed be his most Precious Blood. Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar. Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception. Blessed be her glorious Assumption. Blessed be the name of Mary, virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints. Amen.

No pope has formally declared the Holy Spirit's "spouse" being Mary to be dogma (by speaking ex cathedra) nor condemned it. (To answer your comment: why would they condemn such a belief? See Ott's observation above). Only the Pope can define or reject something binding on Catholic belief one way or another (dogma).

The Catholic church embraces a variety of expressions of belief and faith (for example scapulars, and other sacramentals) without them becoming dogma. Your look into this "pious custom" has already given you your answer at the Catholic Answers ... but do they have the Nihil Obstat? (no). If you check the Catholic Encyclopedia, its treatment of Mary does not include a discussion of her being the spouse of the Holy Spirit. Nor do you find it as a dogma on the Pope's official site at vatican.va.

The church does not go out of its way to keep a nearly infinite list of "Oh, and this isn't dogma, nor this, nor this ..." - it's rather pointless.

No: the position or belief that Mary is the spouse of the Holy spirit is not dogma. You are invited to read up on an official written discussion of dogma and its formation here.

An excerpt of the much longer treatment ...

The study of the history of dogma shows clearly that in these dogmas the Church has not simply taken up already existing conceptual schemes. She has rather subjected existing concepts, imprinted by the upper levels of the language of the milieu, to a process of purification and transformation, or reworking. In that way, she has created the language that fits her message. Take for example the distinction between "substance" (or nature) and "hypostasis", and the working out of the concept of person which was unknown, as such, to Greek philosophy. In fact, it came about as a result of reflection on the reality of the mystery of Salvation and on biblical language.

The language of the Church's dogma was then forged partly in debate with certain philosophical systems, but is not bound in any way to any definitive philosophical system. In the process of seeking language for the faith, the Church has created a language of her own in which she has given expression to realities hitherto unperceived and unknown, but which belong now, precisely by means of such linguistic expression, to the Paradosis of the Church and through it to the historical heritage of humanity.

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  • Is rejection of it also tolerated? Are there any Catholic leaders (bishops, theologians, etc) who reject this particular belief? – curiousdannii Mar 7 at 3:34
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    Now that you have edited your question ... I see ... "Some stranger on the internet said this, is it dogma?" Is that where you want to position this question? – KorvinStarmast Mar 7 at 3:40
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    It's more than just random strangers, it's on catholic.com and catholic.org. That suggests to me that it's already fairly official. But it's not mentioned at all in the Wikipedia article on Catholic Mariology. From what I've seen it looks less accepted than Mary being co-redemptrix, but more than her being God's "dream". But is it in the middle, or is it closer to one end? Would rejecting it prevent someone from being ordained as a bishop, or made pope? Where does it fit in the spectrum of belief is my question. – curiousdannii Mar 7 at 3:47
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    @curiousdannii If no dogma exists, one is free to accept or reject this notion, even bishops. It thus remains simply a pius tradition. No pope has formerly declared this to be dogma, regardless of what other Catholics seem to believe or write about this subject matter. – Ken Graham Mar 7 at 5:37
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    @zippy2006 Denzinger comes up empty on my second try through ... 13th edition, used translation, search for Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit and Mary and we have overcoming, we have the seed, but as for spouse we have ... ... nada – KorvinStarmast Mar 7 at 17:45
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Is it official Catholic dogma that Mary is the wife of the Holy Spirit?

The short answer is no. It is not dogma. There is no Magesterial teaching on this subject as dogma. Thus Catholics are free to accept or reject this notion, both laity and clergy. However I can not see anyone, especially clergy rejecting this.

Even the questioner’s source from Catholic Answers simply calls it a "pious custom".

St. Joseph was the husband of Mary in the common usage of the idea of marriage.

The pious custom of referring to the Holy Spirit as the spouse of Mary is a symbolic expression of Mary’s perpetual virginity and the virgin birth of Jesus. It is not meant in a literal manner but rather in terms of Mary’s singular devotion to God and unique relationship to the Trinity. It is similar to how religious sisters sometimes refer to Jesus as their spouse.

Scripture contains several examples of a mystical spousal relationship:

  • For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name . . . (Isaiah 54:5).

  • . . . as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5).

  • . . . my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD (Jeremiah 31:32).

  • I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband (2 Cor. 11:2).

With no Magesterial teaching or no papal encyclical either way declaring Mary to be the spouse of the Holy Spirit, it simply remains a pious custom.

If no dogma exists, one is free to accept or reject this notion, even bishops. It thus remains simply a pius tradition. No pope has formerly declared this to be dogma (or even condemned it), regardless of what other Catholics seem to believe or write about this subject matter. Only the Pope can define or reject this subject matter as something binding on Catholic belief one way or another.

I truly doubt this will ever be defined by the Church as a dogma and will always remain a pious belief, free to be accepted or rejected by the faithful and clergy of the Catholic Church.

The pious tradition of calling Mary with the filial title of Sponsa Spiritus Sancti is centuries old. It will continue as such.

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No, it is not a defined dogma: the only reason Mary has ever been called or considered the Spouse of the Holy Ghost (a title which admitted by all is an honorific, and not literal) is her unique intimate union with the Holy Ghost in begetting her divine Son. The language used implies a somewhat matrimonial union (i.e. a 'male' Spirit causing a virgin to conceive):

Luke 1:35 (DRB) And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

When we have begetting as a mutual act between any male and female, the most becoming, and beautiful, and licit way to describe such a union is describing it as a kind of espousal: one might say that Mary, emblematizing the Church, as a new Eve, is the first to be wedded to God, the Vivifier of the First Creation, in the New Creation.

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  • "a title which admitted by all is an honorific, and not literal" I'm not convinced of this, some people certainly seem to treat it more literally. One of Ken's answers has a quote saying "Mary is properly to be considered the spouse of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her ... This is why her offspring, Jesus, “will be called the Son of God”" seemingly implying Jesus is called the Son of God because of the role of the Spirit, the spouse of his mother, rather than because the person of Jesus is the Son of God the Father. – curiousdannii Mar 8 at 1:42
  • @curiousdannii at this point, a look at the country song "I'm my own gramp" and Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies" short story might be useful. Beyond that, during the reposition at the end of adoration the faithful offer a prayer to Joseph, her most chaste spouse ... and the Church won't endorse polygamy. – KorvinStarmast Mar 8 at 15:51
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    "some people certainly seem to treat it more literally" That's not the basis of Catholic doctrine. Besides, I've only ever seen it used in litany-type works, e.g. "tower of David, ark of the covenant, spouse of the Holy Ghost," and such things. They are clearly honorifics which are not literal. About Ken's answer: maybe that's a true nuance implied secondarily by the text itself, and not by Ken. – Sola Gratia Mar 8 at 19:44
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Is it official Catholic dogma that Mary is the wife of the Holy Spirit?

The answer is Yes.

The key to understand the word "Spouse" is the keyword "perfect union" written in Lumen Gentium Chapter 8. This would provide us a good understanding why Mary a type/model of the Church is not only the Spouse/Bride of Christ but also a Bride of the Father with reference to Isaiah 54:5 and Isaiah 65:5. Bride of the Father and the Son, will it follows that Mary is also the Spouse/Bride of the Holy Spirit? Because the Most Holy Trinity are inseparable, Mary had a perfect relationship with the Triune God living a Trinitarian faith as St. John explained in his written Gospel.

The Catholic Church teaches us, the Church/Body of believers is the Mystical Body of Christ and Her soul is the Holy Spirit. This is the "perfect union" of the Church with the Holy Spirit like "body and soul" are one.

St. Kolbe teaches the mystical union of Mary and the Holy Spirit surpasses the perfect union, it is a mystical union between the soul of Mary and the Holy Spirit. It surpasses the "perfect union" because according to St. Kolbe, the Holy Spirit takes over the soul of Mary completely as if the soul of Mary is the Holy Spirit that animates her thought,words and actions. This profound mystery is called "quasi-incarnation". Please see the linl article from Dr. Miravalle for a fuller explanation.

Reading Lumen Gentium Chapter 8 with a mind like St. Augustine, St. Francis, St. Liguori, St. Montfort, St. Kolbe, and the mind of the pious popes like Pope Leo XIII, Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI not to mention numerous well known theologians and Church Fathers, we can see that Lumen Gentium a Dogmatic Constitution of Church had expressed implicitly the "perfect union" of Mary and the Holy Spirit. It takes the mind of the Saints and Popes to grasp this profound mystery.

Mary's dignified title as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit can be found in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church.

  1. The Church indeed, contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By her preaching she brings forth to a new and immortal life the sons who are born to her in baptism, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. She herself is a virgin, who keeps the faith given to her by her Spouse whole and entire. Imitating the mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she keeps with virginal purity an entire faith, a firm hope and a sincere charity.(20*)

It is also noteworthy to consider, the LG65 described Mary as also the Bride or Spouse of Christ. In the following dogmatic statement.

  1. But while in the most holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues. Piously meditating on her and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church with reverence enters more intimately into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her Spouse. For Mary, who since her entry into salvation history unites in herself and re-echoes the greatest teachings of the faith as she is proclaimed and venerated, calls the faithful to her Son and His sacrifice and to the love of the Father. Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church becomes more like her exalted Type, and continually progresses in faith, hope and charity, seeking and doing the will of God in all things. Hence the Church, in her apostolic work also, justly looks to her, who, conceived of the Holy Spirit, brought forth Christ, who was born of the Virgin that through the Church He may be born and may increase in the hearts of the faithful also. The Virgin in her own life lived an example of that maternal love, by which it behooves that all should be animated who cooperate in the apostolic mission of the Church for the regeneration of men.

LG65 described Mary had already reach the perfection and had fully become the Spouse or the Bride of Christ while the followers of Christ the Church had yet to conform. But Mary, being the type or model of the Church had already merited the eternal reward of becoming the Bride of Christ.

Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Spouse or Bride of Christ were affirmed in Lumen Gentium a Dogmatic Constitution of the Church.

To understand the meaning of the word spouse or espousal union between Mary and the Holy Spirit. Dr. Miravalle citing the teaching of St. Maximillian Kolbe in this article will shed more light on this profound mystery.

. . . Creatures, by following the natural law implanted in them by God, reach their perfection, become like him, and go back to him. Intelligent creatures love him in a conscious manner; through this love they unite themselves more and more closely with him, and so find their way back to him. The creature most completely filled with this love, with God himself, was the Immaculata, who never contracted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God's will. United to the Holy Spirit as his spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.

What sort of union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the "essence" of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, lives in her. This was true from the first instance of her existence. It is always true; it will always be true.

In what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. He is a fruitful Love, a "Conception." Among creatures made in God's image the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all (cf. Mt. 19:6). In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very instance of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.

The uncreated Immaculate Conception and the created Immaculate Conception. The Divine Spirit and the human spouse perfected in His grace are united by an interior, essential union. Uncreated love conceives and dwells within the depths of her soul, and she becomes His quasi-incarnation. (3) For this reason, as St. Maximilian tells us, Mary is also the Mediatrix of all graces and gifts of the Spirit:

The union between the Immaculata and the Holy Spirit is so inexpressible, yet so perfect, that the Holy Spirit acts only by the Most Blessed Virgin, his Spouse. This is why she is Mediatrix of all grace given by the Holy Spirit. And since every grace is a gift of God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit, it follows that there is no grace which Mary cannot dispose of as her own, which is not given to her for this purpose. (4)

In view of the above official Church Magisterium teachings solemnly promulgated by St.Pope Paul VI united to more than 2,000 College of Bishops during the Second Vatican Council.

Can an ordinary laity even a Bishop now reject Mary's dignified title as "Spouse of the Holy Spirit"?

Remember the magisterial weight of Lumen Gentium is greater than Pope encyclicals and even greater than approved Magisterial Teachings coming from Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. Lumen Gentium is the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church.

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    The subject of LG64 is "The Church", so the natural interpretation is that the spouse is Christ. Why do you think LG64 is talking about Mary and the Spirit? – curiousdannii Mar 12 at 3:00
  • LG64 & LG65 liken the Church the Mystical Body of Christ to Mary. We can see in LG63 "As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ.(18*). Here we can see the word "perfect union" can only be accomplished if we are also in "perfect union" with the Holy Spirit. If the Church is the Spouse of Christ, definitely the Church is also the Spouse of the Holy Spirit having a "perfect union" by following the Will of the Father. St.Kolbe's teaching on "mystical union" surpasses "perfect union".even more. – itzsophia's vlogs Mar 12 at 4:31
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    No type comparison is completely identical, and to the extent that Mary is a type of the Church, wouldn't the husband be the same - Christ? I can't see any of these LG paragraphs being naturally read as indicating Mary is the wife of the Holy Spirit. – curiousdannii Mar 12 at 4:32
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    So please put all that in your answer rather than these paragraphs from the Lumen Gentium which talk about the Church and Christ instead. – curiousdannii Mar 12 at 4:47
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    "the mystical union of Mary and the Holy Spirit surpasses the perfect union" Is this blessing not available to any other people? Can we not be united to God with the greatest mystical union too? – curiousdannii Mar 12 at 6:12

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