Feast of the Day – September 08

Nativity of Mary

The Nativity of Mary, or Birth of the Virgin Mary refers to the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Scripture does not record Mary’s birth. The earliest known writing regarding Mary’s birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), which is an apocryphal writing from the late second century, where her parents are said to have been Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.

In the case of Saints, the Church commemorates the day of their return to the Lord. However, in the cases of St. John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin, it also celebrates the day of their birth. The reason for this is found in the singular mission that was theirs in the History of Salvation.

Tradition celebrates the event as a liturgical feast in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and in most Anglican liturgical calendars on 8 September, nine months after the solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, celebrated on 8 December. The Eastern Orthodox equivalent, the Nativity of the Theotokos pertains to the birth of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox perspective.

This feast, like that of the Assumption of Mary, originated in Jerusalem. It began in the fifth century as the feast of the Basilica Sanctae Mariae ubi nata est, now called the Basilica of Saint Anne. In the seventh century, the feast was celebrated by the Byzantines and at Rome as the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is also celebrated by Syrian Christians on 8 September and by Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on 9 May (1 Bashans, EC 1 Ginbot).

The feast is also included in the Tridentine Calendar for 8 September.

The scene was frequently depicted in art, as part of cycles of the Life of the Virgin. Late medieval depictions are often valuable records of domestic interiors and their fittings – at this period the setting was often in a wealthy household.

The winegrowers in France called this feast “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest”. The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.

Apostolic tradition places Mary’s birthplace either in the Church of Saint Anne in Jerusalem, or in Tzippori, Israel, where Saint Anne once lived.

                                                                                Araditha C R, Student Representative, ACC

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