Researchers at Tufts University, Massachusetts, have discovered that foetal stem cells remain within the mother’s body for decades after birth. Rather than be attacked by her immune system or assimilated into her organism, they retain their genetic identity and even, it seems, help to protect her from disease.

As a recent columnist for the Remnant newspaper remarks, this has interesting implications for theology. Stem cells from our Lord’s human body would have remained living within the Blessed Virgin. But, such baby cells might well have remained hypostatically united to the Word, if they were ever an integral part of Jesus’s body, and never died. The Dominicans in the 15th century maintained (against the Franciscans) that the Precious Blood shed during the passion, since it had been part of Christ’s living body and was destined to be reunited with it at the resurrection, also remained united to the Word, just as His entire body did in the tomb. This has since become the favoured theological opinion.

If this is right, then Mary would have remained a living tabernacle for the Word, not just in her soul but in her body, too.