“Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of whom was born the Sun of Justice…. Her birth constitutes the hope and the light of salvation for the whole world… Her image is light for the whole Christian people” (From the Liturgy).
September 8th is a day the Church celebrates the birth of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God. It’s interesting to know that the Church celebrates three births in the Liturgical Calendar. I am sure you will immediately think of the birth of Jesus as one! The other two are: John the Baptist on June 24th and Mary’s on September 8th.
We would certainly understand the reason for celebrating the Birth of Jesus, the Christ, and John the Baptist served as a forerunner of Jesus, baptizing people as a sign of their repentance.
The Dictionary of Mary contains this entry on the birth of Mary:
“Her birth is ordained in particular toward her mission as Mother of the Savior. Her existence is indissolubly connected with that of Christ: it partakes of a unique plan of predestination and grace. God’s mysterious plan regarding the incarnation of the Word embraces also the Virgin who is His Mother. In this way, the Birth of Mary is inserted at the very heart of the History of Salvation.”
The origin of the celebration of Mary’s birth as a feast day in the Liturgical Calendar began in Palestine. Crusaders built a church over the house of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Ann, in Jerusalem, between 1131 and 1138. The church was consecrated and named after St. Ann.
The Church of St. Ann is the only Crusader church built in the 12th century that is intact and still used today as a place of worship and pilgrim destination. There are two levels. The lower level, or crypt, has parts of the original Church built in the Byzantine period over the home of the maternal grandparents of Jesus. Nearby a beautiful, colorful Icon of Mary’s birth can be seen.
I have visited this Church during our pilgrimages to the Holy Land. It’s very simple with its massive, high stone walls. There is a sense of warmth and welcome when you walk in, knowing that this Church was built over the site of Mary’s birth.
To the left, candles burn by a white statue of St. Ann with Mary as a child.
Pilgrims will light candles asking the intercession of both Mary and her parents.Toward the front is Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence. Small wooden benches invite visitors to pray in silence.
As we think about Mary on her birthday – today or on any day – think about her simplicity and immense love for God. And think about her as the Mother of God, who longs for every person to experience her Son’s mercy and consolation.
“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.” – Saint Maximilian Kolbe