Nativity of Mary

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The Nativity of the Virgin Mary
Giotto - Scrovegni - -07- - The Birth of the Virgin.jpg
The Birth of the Virgin Mary
by Giotto, in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy (circa 1305)
Pure, Sinless,[1] Immaculate
Without Original Sin
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Some Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion
Feast September 8 (Universal)
Attributes Birth of Mary, by her mother Saint Anne

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.[2]

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[3], but traditionally also because these alone (besides the prophet St. Jeremiah, Jer 1:5) were holy in their very birth (for Our Lady see Immaculate Conception; John was sanctified in Elisabeth's womb according to the traditional interpretation of Lk 1:15).

Traditional Account[edit]

The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He and his wife Anne were deeply grieved by their childlessness.[4]

Tradition places Mary's birthplace in Jerusalem.[5]

Feast day[edit]

Tradition celebrates the event as a liturgical feast in the General Roman Calendar 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 likewise celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos on 8 September.

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. The original church built, in the fifth century, was a Marian basilica erected on the spot known as the shepherd's field and thought to have been the home of Mary's parents.[2] In the seventh century, the feast was celebrated by the Byzantines as the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is also celebrated by Syrian Christians on 8 September[6] and by Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on 9 May (1 Bashans, EC 1 Ginbot). At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks.[3] 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.[7]

Mention in Islamic scripture[edit]

The birth of Mary is narrated in the Quran with references to her father, after whom the chapter is named ('The Family of Imran') as well as her mother. The wife of Imran prayed to God to fulfil her desire[8] and vowed, if her prayer was accepted, that her child would be dedicated to the service of God. She prayed for her child to remain protected from Satan (Shayṭān) and Muslim tradition records a hadith, which states that the only children born without the "touch of Satan," were Mary and Jesus.[9]


External links[edit]