Feast of the Nativity of Mary

Birth of the Virgin, Murillo

We celebrate Our Lady’s birthday on Wednesday. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar — Jesus (December 25), John the Baptist (June 24) and Mary on September 8th.  As the mother of our Lord, Mary was born to also be our spiritual mother and so was conceived immaculate and full of grace. Through her intercession, grace is given to us, doubters may receive the gift of faith and the afflicted are afforded works of mercy.

There is no historical evidence to say why Mary’s birth should fall on September 8.  The feast originated in Palestine so an ancient tradition of the Church in Jerusalem may have provided the date. The Syrians observe on this day also the solemn memory of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary whose childlessness deeply grieved them.  Mindful of Abraham, that in the last day God gave him a son (Isaac), Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves to prayer and fasting for the blessing of a child.

The circumstances of Mary’s birth and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible but are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church.  Although not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, “an important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many….  The Protoevangelium records that when Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37).    This event is marked each year on November 21st by our celebration of the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.  It is thought that she would have been about three years old.  A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity”.   For more on what the early church believed on this, see  https://www.catholic.com/

Since September 8 marks the beginning of harvest in many countries, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it across the world but perhaps your family could celebrate Mary’s Birthday by making or buying a cake and having a special family tea.   She would probably love to hear your children or grandchildren singing Happy Birthday to her and to see them blowing out the candles!   Joining in with the celebrations of Heaven, perhaps the singing will sound that bit more angelic!

We pray:  “Impart to your servants, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace, that the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin may bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”