- (in ancient Rome) one of four, later six, virgins consecrated to Vesta and to the tending of the sacred fire on her altar.
Origin of vestal virgin
- (in ancient Rome) one of the four, later six, virgin priestesses whose lives were dedicated to Vesta and to maintaining the sacred fire in her temple
Women in ancient Rome who took vows of chastity and tended the sacred flame in the temple of the goddess Vesta. Their group numbered six at any one time. A vestal virgin could marry after her term of service was over, but to do so was considered bad luck. A vestal virgin who lost her virginity during her term of service was punished by being buried alive.