Saint of the Day ~ May 31


Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feastday of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

This is a fairly recent Feast, going back only to the 13th or 14th century. It was established widely throughout the Church as a prayer for unity. The present date of this celebration was set in 1969 in order to follow the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25) and precede the Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24).

After the Incarnation of our Lord in Mary’s womb, Mary left Nazareth at the end of March and went over the mountains to the town of Hebron, south of Jerusalem, to care for her cousin Elizabeth, who was then in her sixth month – “And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:36-37).

Like most Feasts of Mary, the Visitation is closely connected with Jesus and His saving work. The more visible actors in the Visitation drama are Mary and Elizabeth. However, Jesus and John the Baptist steal the scene in a hidden way. Jesus makes John leap with joy – the joy of Messianic salvation. Elizabeth, in turn, is filled with the Holy Spirit and addresses words of praise to Mary – words which have echoed down through the ages in the Marian prayer, the “Ave Maria (Hail Mary)”.

And Mary responds with the Canticle which gives praise to God from a humble handmaiden, which we know as the “Magnificat” (please see today’s “Meditation for the Day”).

It is helpful to recall that we do not have a journalist’s account of this meeting. Rather, Luke, speaking for the Church, gives a prayerful poet’s rendition of what transpired on this eventful meeting between Mary and Elizabeth and Jesus and John the Baptist, probably told to him by the Blessed Mother herself.

This Feastday reminds us of the virtues of charity and faithfulness – selfless love for our neighbor and an unquestioning trust in the Goodness of God.

We celebrate this Feastday of our Blessed Mother on May 31.

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(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Roman Missal from the Proper for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

“Almighty and Ever-living God, who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying Your Son in her womb, inspired her to visit Elizabeth, grant us, we pray, that faithful to the promptings of the Spirit, we may magnify Your Greatness with the Virgin Mary at all times.

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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