Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today is the birthday of the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father of mercy,
give your people help and strength from heaven.
The birth of the Virgin Mary's Son was the dawn of our salvation.
May this celebration of her birthday
bring us closer to lasting peace.
Grant this though our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

- Collect for the Feast of the Birth of Mary, September 8.

September 8: The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary (16 B.C.). Mary was born fifteen years, three months and seventeen days before the birth of Jesus. She was born in a house in which, fourteen years, six months and seventeen days later, the great Angel Gabriel, sent by God, would come and kneel before her and with bowed head say: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee"

Mary was three years, two months and thirteen days old when she was presented by her parents to God in the Temple. She was just fourteen years old when she was espoused to Joseph. She was fourteen years, four months and fifteen days old when her espousals to Saint Joseph were solemnized. She was in her forty-eighth year when Our Lord died and rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, in the year 33. And Mary was seventy-two years old when she herself died, and was three days later assumed into Heaven, in the year 58.

The Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated in the Church at least since the 8th Century. The Church's calendar observes the birthdays of only two saints: Saint John the Baptist (June 24), and Mary, Mother of Jesus.

John the Baptist is considered especially sanctified even before his birth. His birth to Elizabeth and Zachariah is foretold in the first chapter of Luke, and it is also recorded (Lk 1:41) that Elizabeth felt the infant John "leap in her womb" when Mary approached her soon after the Annunciation.

The birth of Mary was also miraculous. She was conceived without sin as a special grace because God had selected her to become the mother of His Son (the feast of her Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8). The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, though generally believed throughout the Church for many centuries, was formally declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

There is nothing contained in Scripture about the birth of Mary or her parentage, though Joseph's lineage is given in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the apocryphal "Gospel of James", a book dating from the 2nd Century AD, not part of the authentic canon of Scripture. According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child.

According to one tradition, the house in which Mary was born in Nazareth is the same one in which the Annunciation took place. By another tradition, the Annunciation site is beneath the Crusader church of Saint Anna in Jerusalem, under a 3rd Century oratory known as the "Gate of Mary".

In celebrating the nativity of Mary, Christians anticipate the Incarnation and birth of her Divine Son, and give honor to the mother of Our Lord and Savior.


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