The Marriage of Mary to Joseph, Catholic Encyclopaedia, says:
The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “…respectable man to espouse Mary, then twelve to fourteen years of age, Joseph, who was at the time ninety years old, went up…..” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08504a.htm)
“The marriageable age is fourteen full years in males and twelve full years in females, under penalty of nullity (unless natural puberty supplies the want of years [i.e. if puberty occurs before the age of twelve])… The canonical age holds in England, Spain, Portugal, Greece (Ionian Isles excepted, where it is sixteen and fourteen), and as regards Catholics even in Austria. While in some parts of the United States the canonical marriage age of fourteen and twelve still prevails, in others it has been enlarged by statutes.” (Catholic Encyclopedia,http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01206c.htm)
Elsewhere, the Catholic Encyclopedia says:
“By the common law, the age at which minors were capable of marrying, known as the age of consent, was fixed at fourteen years for males and twelve years for females. Marriages under the age of seven years for both were void, but between seven and the age of consent [14 for males, 12 for females] the parties could contract an imperfect marriage, which was voidable but not necessarily void.
(Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09691b.htm)
Although twelve was the general guideline, Christian fathers were allowed to marry their daughters off even before that. We read:
Medieval Christianity continued to maintain the age of twelve as a minimal age for females to enter into marriage. However, even this low age limit was not absolute. Using natural law logic, Catholic authorities argued that the decisive factor which determined a child’s readiness for marriage and sexual relations was the onset of puberty, and not necessarily age as such. According to one Catholic scholar, “If it could be satisfactorily proved that puberty . . . was actually attained by the boy before the completion of his fourteenth year, or by the girl before the completion of her twelfth year, then . . . the party could enter upon a valid marriage.” (Mark E. Pietrzyk, http://www.internationalorder.org/scandal_response.html)
Similar to Jewish Law, Christian Law differentiated between the minimum age of marriage and the absolute minimum age of marriage. Twelve years old was the minimum age of marriage, called the age of consent; in other words, a girl had to be twelve years old before should could arrange her own marriage. But the absolute minimum age of marriage was in fact seven years of age, during which time her father could arrange her marriage without her permission.
1. Saint Augustine: Saint Augustine, who is credited with having formulated Christian theology, betrothed himself to a ten year old girl, and this was when he was thirty-one years of age. He waited two years for her body to mature, after which she moved into Saint Augustine’s at the age of twelve. How is it then that the Christians attack Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم(peace be upon him) for marrying Aisha (peace be upon her) when she was nine or ten, when their venerated Saint Augustine himself betrothed a ten year old girl?
One such example of betrothal between a mature male and young girl is that of St.
Augustine (354-439 A.D.). At the age of thirty-one, Augustine betrothed himself to a ten-year-old girl.
(Mark E. Pietrzyk, http://www.internationalorder.org/scandal_response.html)
2. Saint Agnes: Another very famous Christian figure in history, Saint Agnes—who is known as the patron saint of chastity—fielded marriage proposals when she was younger than twelve years old. Yet suddenly the Christians turn their noses up when we Muslims say that Aisha (peace be upon her) fielded marriage proposals at a similar age.
Saint Agnes’ name means chaste or pure in Greek and lamb or victim in Latin.
She has always been regarded by the Church as a special patroness of purity.
Agnes was martyred early in the persecution of Diocletian, who began his persecution of Christians in March of 303. She was only twelve or thirteen years old at the time of her death (accounts differ). Even at that young age, her wealth and beauty had attracted the attention of the young noblemen of Rome, who competed with each other for her hand in marriage.
(Domestic-Church.com, http://www.domestic- church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980101/SAINTS/STAGNES.HTM)
3. Saint Hedwig of Andechs: Saint Hedwig is revered by the Christians as the patron saint of orphans. She was married off at the age of twelve to Henry I of Silesia.
4. Saint Rita of Cascia: She is considered by Christians to be the patron saint of hopeless causes, and was betrothed at the age of twelve to a man named Paola Mancini.
5. Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified: She was betrothed at the age of thirteen.
6. Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, patron of the Third Order of St. Francis, was married off at the age of twelve.
7. Saint Joseph, the supposed foster father of Jesus, was in his nineties when he married the twelve year old Mary. Some claim that Joseph was in his thirties—and not his nineties—but the fact remains that he was a grown man who married a twelve year old.
And there are many other examples from amongst the venerated Christian saints…
1. King Richard II, at the age of thirty, married a French princess named Isabella who was only seven years old at the time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_of_Valois
2. Duchess of Milan, Bianca of Savoy, was married off at the age of thirteen. http://www.academia.edu/990174/Medieval_Marriage
3. Theodora Comnena was married off at the age of thirteen to King Baldwin III, who was more than double her age. http://www.academia.edu/990174/Medieval_Marriage
4. King Adronikos I Komnenos, the valiant Christian leader of the Byzantine Empire, married the twelve-year-old Agnes of France when he was sixty-four years old.http://www.academia.edu/990174/Medieval_Marriage
5. King Denis of Portugal married the twelve year old Saint Elizabeth of Portugal.
6. Girolamo Riario, Lord of Imola and Forli, married the nine year old Caterin Sforza.
7. Jeanne III of Navarre was wed at the age of thirteen.
8. Giovanni Sforza married the thirteen year old Lucrezia Borgia.
9. King Haakon VI of Norway married the ten year old Queen Margaret.
10. Count Agness of Essex was betrothed at the age of only three years old and married off at the age of twelve to a man who was almost fifty years of age.
11. Prince Edward of Wales married the French king’s daughter, Isabella, who was only seven years old.
12. Romanos II married Bertha (renamed Eudokia), the daughter of the King of Italy, when she was only four years old!
13. Stephen Milutin, the Kral of Serbia, married Simonis, the daughter of Emperor Andronikos II, when she was only five years old. At the time of the marriage, Stephen Milutin was fifty years old.
14. Edward I married the nine year old Eleanor of Castile.
15. Richard of Shrewsbury, King Edward IV’s son, married the five year old Anne Mowbray of Norfolk.
16. Mary Stewart married Henry VIII when she was only six.
And there are many other examples…