About the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Virgin Mary is perhaps the most widely recognized and venerated saint in all of Catholic tradition – and rightly so. As the humble handmaid of the Lord who became the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary is a model and an intercessor for all God’s people.
Tradition tells us that Mary’s parents were named Joachim and Anne, and that she was born in Jerusalem. She grew up in Nazareth, and at a young age was visited by the archangel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of Jesus. She was puzzled by this declaration, stating that although she was betrothed to Joseph, they were not living together, and she had therefore had “no relations with a man.” (Luke 1:34) The archangel Gabriel explained to her that she would become the Mother of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:38) Mary’s statement, known as the “Fiat,” was her “yes” to God to allow Him to use her according to His will.
Mary had a cousin named Elizabeth who had been unable to conceive a child with her husband, John. God intervened and Elizabeth, even in her old age, became pregnant. Mary, while in her sixth month of her own pregnancy, went to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth announced that the baby in her womb leapt for joy upon hearing Mary’s greeting, and Mary proclaimed her “Magnificat.” (Luke 1:46-55)
Mary and her husband, Joseph, traveled Bethlehem to register for the census, since that is where his family was from. While on their journey, the time came for Mary to deliver. They were unable to find an inn to stay in, and Mary gave birth to the child Jesus in a stable. They were visited by angels, shepherds, and wise men who brought gifts for the newborn King. Mary and Joseph later returned to Nazareth, where the Holy Family lived and grew in holiness together.
The Virgin Mary was often present during the time of Jesus’ public ministry. His first public miracle, in which he changed the water to wine at a wedding in Cana, was at the request of Mary. This story is often referenced as a reason why many people offer prayers of intercession through Mary to God – for Jesus listened to his mother’s request, understood the needs of the bride and groom at the wedding, and responded.
Mary was with Jesus during his Passion and Death, meeting him along His way to Calvary, and standing at the foot of the Cross with St. John. It was at this time that Jesus looked at Mary and said “Woman, behold your son.” Then he looked at St. John and said “Behold your Mother.” (John 19:26-27) In this moment Jesus gave his Mother to not only St. John, but to all people.
At the end of her life, the Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, where she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. Throughout the ages, the Blessed Mother has appeared to many with messages to inspire, comfort, and encourage. Some well-known Marian apparitions are: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of Fatima (among many others). The Virgin Mary continues to be a Mother to all the world by offering her intercession and prayers for the people of God.
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Feast Days
The Virgin Mary is honored on many days throughout the Church year, each commemorating a special moment in her life. The most principally celebrated days are:
- January 1: The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
- February 11: The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
- March 25: The Feast of the Annunciation (in which the archangel Gabriel announced to Mary she would be the Mother of God)
- May 1: In the month of May, Mary is celebrated as Queen of Heaven and Earth – often marked with a crowning ceremony held in a church
- August 15: The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
- September 8: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (her day of birth)
- October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary
- December 8: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (in which Mary was conceived without stain of original sin within the womb of her mother, St. Anne)
- December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe
- December 25: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (not technically a Marian feast day – but certainly a day in which Mary is honored in a noted and special way!)
The Blessed Virgin Mary in Art
In art, Mary is often depicted wearing the color blue (a symbol of the heavenly sky) and is veiled. She usually appears as a rather young woman. Sometimes she is shown holding the Child Jesus, while other times she is showing her Immaculate Heart. There are often angels and/or flowers around her, symbolizing her holiness, purity, and beauty.
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Patronages
The Virgin Mary is patron of many dioceses, countries, and places throughout the world. She is also the patron of aviators (see Our Lady of Loreto), childbirth, motherhood, nuns, the sick, young women, and many, many others.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death. Amen.
Memorare of St. Bernard
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I turn unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen