The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Songs 6:10)

Mary Queen of Heaven

Mary Queen of Heaven

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated at least by the sixth century, when an Eastern Christian by the name of St. Romanos composed a hymn for the feast. The feast spread to Rome in the seventh century and then gradually its celebration spread throughout the West.

The traditional 8th September date of the feast, falls exactly nine months after the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception on 8th December. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an important date in our salvation history, preparing for us the way for the Birth of Christ.

The Christians of the second century A.D. recorded the details of Mary’s birth in such documents as the Protoevangelium of James and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary. While neither document bears the authority of Scripture, they provide us with everything that we know about the life of Mary before the Annunciation, including the names of Saint Mary’s parents, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. It’s a good example of Tradition, which complements (while never contradicting) Scripture.

'Birth of the Virgin', 1342. From the collection of the Opera del Duomo, Siena.

‘Birth of the Virgin’, 1342. From the collection of the Opera del Duomo, Siena.

From day to day, from moment to moment, she increased so much this twofold plenitude that she attained an immense and inconceivable degree of grace. So much so, that the Almighty made her the sole custodian of his treasures and the sole dispenser of his graces. She can now ennoble, exalt and enrich all she chooses. She can lead them along the narrow path to heaven and guide them through the narrow gate to life. She can give a royal throne, sceptre and crown to whom she wishes. Jesus is always and everywhere the fruit and Son of Mary and Mary is everywhere the genuine tree that bears that Fruit of life, the true Mother who bears that Son.” – Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

Prayer for Our Lady’s Nativity:

“Heavenly Child, lovable Mary, the Eternal Father delights in thy birth, for He beholds in thy coming into this world one of His creatures who is so perfect that she will become the worthy Mother of His Divine Son. May thy birth give joy to my soul also, by obtaining for me from the heavenly Father, the pardon of my sins, and an abiding sorrow for them.”

Finally, here is a beautiful rendering of Schubert’s “Ave Maria”:

 

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11 Responses to The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. toadspittle says:

    Lovely painting, indeed.
    …That we see Mary as a member of The Privileged Ruling Class, bedecked with precious stones, is I think unfortunate, these “modern, democratic” days. She was, in fact, a Jewish working class mother – her face certainly prematurely aged and wrinkled and ravaged by work in the intense middle Eastern sun, far more physically resembling Mother Teresa than a 13th Century French(?) princess.
    The “classy,” heavenly, version is, I strongly suspect, a deeply-needed substitute, for Venus, Aphrodite, and Co. – all the female gods whom people missed when we all went Christian.
    …But I haven’t a clue really.
    Just guessing. However, people will come on here and tell me categorically that I am wrong, and not only that they think I am – but that they know that I am.
    Because they read it somewhere. So it must be “true.”
    OK.
    (Crikey Toad, “ruling class?” – You a Commie – or what?)

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  2. Pingback: The Significance of Our Lady’s Nativity and Edwin Muir’s ‘The Annunciation’ | Journey Towards Easter

  3. mkenny114 says:

    Erm, you don’t think that perhaps the crown etc might have something to do with Our Lady being the Queen of HEAVEN – i.e.; that it is not meant to be a literal representation of what she looked like whilst on earth, but meant to signify her exalted place in salvation history? Just a thought.

    However, since I am basing this on things that I read somewhere once, it cannot be taken as a definitive statement or supposed to have any foundation in fact. Also, as I am using language everything here should really be taken as not only mere opinion, coloured by my personal preferences, but also occluded by the ‘fact’ (which things of course don’t really exist) that all words are themselves simply representations of our subjectivity, and therefore there is no real possibility of shared meaning or any constructive dialogue whatsoever. I think I’ve got this right anyway!

    Sorry, I’m in a bit of an odd mood and couldn’t help myself 🙂

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  4. mkenny114 says:

    As for the old ‘images of and beliefs regarding the Virgin Mary are simply a continuation of pagan goddess motifs due to the need for early Christians to insert something of the feminine principle into their religion’ (or such like) routine, I thought that sort of thing was…well, a bit old hat. Maybe I’m more modern than I thought…

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  5. GC says:

    Michael, wicked Toad will no doubt be pleased and would probably blush if we acknowledge that he still has the old mojo, which we are only too happy to perform if required.

    As for kathleen’s beautiful art selection, it is indeed from the Ghent Altarpiece, from St Bavo Cathedral in Ghent (unless it has been stolen again), which I think is still in Belgium according to most recent surveys

    It is in the view of some the most influential painting ever made: it was the world’s first major oil painting, and is laced with Catholic mysticism. It’s almost an A to Z of Christianity – from the annunciation to the symbolic sacrifice of Christ, with the “mystic lamb” on an altar in a heavenly field, bleeding into the holy grail.

    A little less of the Aphrodite of Milos/Venus De Milo is called for then, very possibly, I feel,

    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/dec/20/ghent-altarpiece-most-stolen-artwork-of-all-time

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  6. GC says:

    kathleen, I’ve been thinking about that wonderful crown of the Queen of Heaven and the flowers on it. I thought they were the lily and the rose. Looks like I could have been right unless someone’s got a better idea. See here:

    http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/marys-symbols.htm

    Lovely.

    Venus, my foot.

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  7. toadspittle says:

    “Erm, you don’t think that perhaps the crown etc might have something to do with Our Lady being the Queen of HEAVEN –”
    Erm, yes, Michael, that’s exactly what I do think. And I also think that possibly – because of this emphasis, for want of a better word, on Heavenly Royalty – many people nowadays consider Christianity old hat.
    Because they look at contemporary royals – EARTHLY queens and kings, and think, “What a gang of twits. Fire the lot of them.” And it naturally rubs off on God.
    However, this is only another of Toad’s thicko theories, and is very likely nuts.

    The Ghent picture is one of the great wonders of the world. I can attest to that.

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  8. mkenny114 says:

    Haha – yes, I suppose that amongst the many reasons put forward for not wanting to believe in Christianity is that it employs symbols we consider ourselves to have outgrown; wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Personally I tend to the position that the symbols we find in Scripture are there for good reason and that the royal imagery in particular speaks much more powerfully to us of God’s sovereignty, glory, etc, than other imagery could do (on that note, I’m not really sure what ‘democractic’ heavenly imagery would be like, and to be honest the idea of it brings to mind terrible pictures of people holding hands in fields or such like – sends shivers down the spine). We can certainly agree that the Ghent piece is strikingly beautiful though 🙂

    GC, thanks for the background on the painting by the way, and for suggesting that I might have been in any way responsible for making a Toad blush! 🙂

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  9. toadspittle says:

    Agreed, Michael – “democratic” heavenly imagery would be nonsensical.
    As nonsensical as equating The Mother of God with Princess Diana.

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  10. mkenny114 says:

    Well, seeing as I don’t think anyone (excepting perhaps Elton John or Tony Blair) would seriously consider making such a comparison, I think we can agree on that too. As for speaking of Our Lady in royal terms more generally, I think it highly appropriate, and most sensible (sensical?) indeed.

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  11. kathleen says:

    Well done Michael…. for ‘playing’ the Toad at his own game! That should send him slouching back to hide under his stone! 😆 Until the next time of course….

    @ GC (alias CP&S’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’) – thank you for the above information about the origin of the exquisite painting of Our Blessed Lady… and the link to the intriguing on-going investigation into the theft of the missing panel of the Ghent altarpiece!

    Oh yes – lilies, “mystical” roses, fleur-de-lys, etc., all the most beautiful of God’s bounty in Nature to delight and give homage to His (and our) Blessed Mother.
    Nothing we decorate her images with is ever truly worthy enough for the Queen of Heaven of course, but like a loving mother who is touched and overjoyed when her little child hands her a bright yellow dandelion to show his/her love, Our Blessed Mother will see our hearts and be happy with our well-intentioned gifts. 🙂

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