On this day: The Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day we celebrate the feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Click here for Google News of the Nativity of Mary. The pictures with this article are lovely, as is this article by a seminarian in Mangalore.

Click here for the Liturgy of the Hours and here for the Mass.

Today's Gospel relates the genealogy of Jesus Christ: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amos, Josiah, Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, Joseph.

A few women are mentioned in the list: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (not by name), and Mary.

An alternative reading is available for those celebrants who find the genealogy too long or too difficult. A thousand years ago, Ælfric, the Abbot of Eynsham, who wrote homilies, lives of saints, grammars, and biblical commentary, "bluntly refused to compose a homily for the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, stating in a note appended to the homily for the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost that he did not wish to relate the apocryphal story and that the gospel (the genealogy of Joseph at the beginning of Matthew) for the day was too difficult to expound". Eventually, he changed his mind and wrote two homilies for the feast.

--The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Anglo-Saxon England, by Mary Clayton, Cambridge University Press, 2003, page 244.

For an interesting explanation of this matter, see "Ælfric's Abjection of the Virgin Mary," by Miranda Hodgson, Nordic Journal of English Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005.

Click here for a brief history of the feast from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Click here for images of the Birth of Mary.

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