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'The Bride and the Bridegroom'. Online Congress January - September 2008 concerning 'the Dignity and Vocation of Women', 'Mulieris Dignitatem'

‘The Bride and the Bridegroom’

Online Congress January - September 2008
concerning “the Dignity and Vocation of Women”,
“Mulieris Dignitatem”
Encyclical Letter by Pope John Paul II (30 September 1988)

“In the Letter to the Ephesians we encounter a second dimension of the analogy which, taken as a whole, serves to reveal the "great mystery". This is a symbolic dimension. If God's love for the human person, for the chosen people of Israel, is presented by the prophets as the love of the bridegroom for the bride, such an analogy expresses the "spousal" quality and the divine and non-human character of God's love: "For your Maker is your husband...the God of the whole earth he is called." (Isaiah 54:5)”

“Christ has entered this history and remains in it as the bridegroom who "has given himself." To give oneself "to become a sincere gift" in the most complete and radical way: "Greater love has no man than this." (John 15:13)”

“According to this conception, all human beings - both women and men - are called through the church to be the "bride" of Christ, the redeemer of the world. In this way "being the bride," and thus the "feminine" element, becomes a symbol of all that is "human," according to the words of Paul: "There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)” (Mulieris Dignitatem § 25)

We just print some excerpts here. It is worth reading the whole text.

Paragraphs in Mulieris Dignitatem

“This is easily seen in regard to the person of the "bride." According to the Letter to the Ephesians, the bride is the church, just as for the prophets the bride was Israel. She is therefore a collective subject and not an individual person. This collective subject is the people of God, a community made up of many persons, both women and men.” (Mulieris Dignitatem § 25)

“Christ is the bridegroom. This expresses the truth about the love of God, who "first loved us" (Cf. 1 John 4:19) and who, with the gift generated by this spousal love for man, has exceeded all human expectations: "He loved them to the end." (John 13:1)”

“The bridegroom - the Son consubstantial with the Father as God - became the son of Mary; he became the "son of man," true man, a male. The symbol of the bridegroom is masculine. This masculine symbol represents the human aspect of the divine love which God has for Israel, for the church and for all people.” (Mulieris Dignitatem § 25)


  • Is the encyclical’s interpretation of "the Mystery" in Ephesians 5,31 correct from a scriptural point of view?
  • Does the analogy of the Bride and Bridegroom really carry all the weight attributed to it in the encyclical?

Readings on our website:


Equality of Women

Christ and Women

Women as Mothers

Bride and Groom

Women and Eucharist

Women and Love

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