So who exactly were these Vestal virgins?
They were the high order priestesses in ancient Rome whose responsibility was to keep the scared fire of Vesta lit and preserve a sacred pledge on which depended the very existence of Rome. The Romans believed that as long as he fire was lit, Rome would endure everything and never fall.
But why keep virgins for that? We find it baffling too. Perhaps some of the interesting facts about Rome’s Vestal virgins can help clear away the confusion.
#1. Keeping the sacred fire lit
The most important task of a vestal was to keep the sacred fire burning. The fire symbolized Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home. Their other tasks included collecting water from the sacred spring, preparing food for the rituals and taking care of the temple’s sanctuary.
#2. Chastity was important but not forever
As you can guess from their order, they had to remain chaste. The vestal priestesses were chosen when they were young and were forbidden from sex and bearing children as long as they tended to the sacred fire. These women were expected to be pure of heart. If one of the vestals broke her vow of virginity, it was believed that great doom would befall Rome.
However, each vestal served for only 30 years. After the completion of her term, she was free to go and enjoy a married life.