Giovanni Strazza, La vergine velata, 185x
Giovanni Strazza, La vergine velata

Ambiunt virgines hominum adversus virgines dei, nuda plane fronte temerarie in audaciam excitatae, et virgines videntur, quae aliquid a viris petere possunt, nedum tale factum, ut scilicet aemulae earum, tanto magis liberae quanto Christi solius ancillae, dedantur illis! ‘scandalizamur’, inquiunt, ‘quia aliter aliae incedunt’, et malunt scandalizari quam provocari. Scandalum, nisi fallor, non bonae rei, sed malae exemplum est, aedificans ad delictum; bonae res neminem scandalizant nisi malam mentem. si bonum est modestia, verecundia, fastidium gloriae, soli Deo captans placere, agnoscant malum suum, quae de tali bono scandalizantur. quid enim? si incontinentes dicant se a continentibus scandalizari, et continentia revocanda est? et ne multinubi scandalizentur, monogamia recusanda est? cur non magis hae querantur scandalo sibi esse petulantiam, impudentiam ostentaticiae virginitatis? propter huiusmodi igitur capita nundinaticia trahantur virgines sanctae in ecclesiam, erubescentes, quod cognoscantur in medio, paventes, quod detegantur accersitae quasi ad stuprum? non minus enim et hoc pati nolunt. omnis publicatio virginis bonae stupri passio est. et tamen vim carnis pati minus est, quia de officio naturae venit; sed cum spiritus ipse violatur in virgine sublato velamine, didicit amittere, quod tuebatur. o sacrilegae manus, quae dicatum deo habitum detrahere potuerunt!
(Tertullian, De Virginibus Velandis 3.3-8)

In contrast with the virgins of God, the virgins of this world go around with foreheads distinctly uncovered, having been roused to a rash audacity. They are considered virgins who are able to ask anything from men, much less the following example, in order that their rivals (with so much more freedom as servants of Christ alone) certainly are surrendered to them. ‘We are scandalized,’ the [virgins without veils] say, ‘because the others go about differently [than we do],’ and they choose to be scandalized rather than challenged. A scandal, unless I am mistaken, is not an example of a good situation but of a harmful one, creating an offence. Good situations scandalize nobody, except [those with] an evil mind. If restraint, reserve, aversion to the spotlight, striving to please God alone is good, let them who are scandalized by such goodness realize their own evil. So what if those lacking self-control say that they are scandalized by those with self-control! Should self-control be revoked? Lest the polygamists be scandalized, must monogamy be objected to also? Why do these [virgins with self-control] not complain more that the petulance and shamelessness of ostentatious virginity is an offence to themselves? Therefore, on account of the availability of heads of this kind, must pure virgins be dragged into the church, being ashamed because they are recognized in public, trembling because they are uncovered, summoned as if to their defilement? For they are no less willing to suffer even this. Every confiscation [of the veil] of a virtuous virgin is the suffering of defilement, and yet to suffer physical violence is less [terrible] because it comes from a natural bodily function. But when the spirit itself is violated in a virgin by her veil having been taken, she learns to cope with the loss of what she was guarding. O sacrilegious hands that have been able to remove the appearance that was dedicated to God! (tr. Geoffrey D. Dunn)


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