FORT WAYNE (Web Desk) – A 38-year-old high school teacher from Fort Wayne, Indiana, tied the knot with Jesus Christ in an elaborate church ceremony last weekend. The groom, of course, was not present.
Jessica Hayes, a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School, said that she made the decision to marry Christ after years of prayer and soul-searching, the Oddity Central reported.
She is now part of an elite group of ‘consecrated virgins’ – women who lead chaste lives, but are not required to live in convents or obliged to work for the Catholic Church.
Hayes plans to continue her normal life at home, but she will not be able to marry or have sex with anyone for the rest of her life.
“I think that in some sense, we’re all called to be married,” Hayes said.
“It’s just a matter of discerning how. So, my marriage to Christ is as someone else’s marriage is to their spouse. My students asked if they should call me Mrs. Hayes when I come back to school next week, and no, I’m still Ms. But I am married to Jesus,”
The wedding service, conducted by Bishop Kevin C. at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, was attended by hundreds of people – mostly strangers to Hayes.
She said that she was quite pleased with the turnout, even though most of the guests attended out of curiosity. “I am so happy to have had so many witnesses (at the wedding) because there may be others that the Lord is calling in this way that have now heard of this life and can consider it in their prayer.”
“Now that I’ve made a public commitment, that’s really an encouragement to me to live up to that because people know that this is who I am and my life needs to be lived in conformity with that,” Hayes added.
“So it’s one more step in that direction that others expect this way of life from me and I need to live consistently in my words and actions that love for Jesus.”
After much thought, Hayes decided to wear a conservative dress for the special day, given that she’d have to lie prostrate on the floor during one part of the ceremony.
“I’ve seen so many wedding dresses over the years that I think I’ve probably changed my mind very many times,” she said.
“I had to really consider the appropriateness of the occasion for my dress.”
“I wanted my shoulders to be covered, and I would have to lie prostrate before the altar, so I really wanted to make sure that I was well-covered in a way that still shows the beauty of a bride.”
Hayes complemented the long white dress with a pair of nude heels and shoulder length hair styled in loose curls.
The consecration service only incorporated some of the symbols of marriage – a dress, a ring, and a veil – but it was not literally a marriage. It’s more about the virgins resolving to “persevere to the end of their days in the holy state of virginity and in the service of God and his Church.”
They also accept “solemn consecration as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The practice of consecrating virgins apparently died out in the Middle Ages, but it was revived by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
To become one, the church states that women must never have married or “lived in open violation of chastity,” and “give assurance” that they will lead a life of chastity.
According to the Daily Mail, there are about 3,500 consecrated virgins in the world today, and 230 of them are in the US.
Hayes is the first woman from Fort Wayne to become one in 25 years .