Magisterial Documents: Vita Consecrata

Apostolic Exhortation on the Consecrated Life Pope John Paul II
25 March 1996

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

Vita Consecrata, On Consecrated Life, is a reflection on the proceedings of the world Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October 1994. It is a large document of 109 articles and covers, as far as possible, every form of consecrated life. Mary appears in articles 18, 23, 28, 34, 94, 95, 97, and 112. In each case she is upheld as an example of the consecrated life - both in the active and the contemplative aspects - in relation to the Trinity and the Church, to prophetic witness and evangelization. The main image used is the biblical scene of the Visitation. At the conclusion of the document, Pope John Paul II invokes Mary in prayer to sustain consecrated persons on their journey.

Finally, the document also asks all consecrated persons, "according to their own traditions, to renew daily their spiritual union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, reliving with her the mysteries of her son, especially by saying the rosary." (VC 95)

In actuality, there are few elements in terms of Marian teaching. The text can be characterized as a call for members of the consecrated life to return to the Marian model and to Marian consecration. A minor theme in post-Vatican II Marian documents consists in pointing out the Way of Beauty as Mary exemplifies it. To concentrate on the divine beauty reflected in Mary and the fullness of human created beauty is to concentrate on the ideal and the goal of the Christian life.


Introduction 1-13
Chapter 1
"Confessio Trinitatis" Origins in the Mystery of Christ and the Trinity 14-16

I. In Praise of the Trinity 17-22

II. Between Easter and Fulfillment 23-28

III. In the Church and for the Church 29-34

IV. Guided by the Spirit of Holiness 35-40

Chapter 2
"Signum Fraternitatis" A Sign of Communion in the Church

I. Permanent Values 41-58

II. Continuity in Spiritual Work: Faithfulness in Change 59-62

III. Looking to the Future 63-71

Chapter 3
"Servitium Caritatis" Consecrated Life: God's Love Manifest in the World 72-74

I. Love to the End 75-83

II. A Prophetic Witness 84-95

III. Some New Fields of Mission 96-99

IV. In Dialogue with Everyone100-103
Conclusion 104-112


AAS (1996);
Origins 25:41 (1996): 681-719

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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