Espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Marriage of the Virgin Mary is a feast that is celebrated in certain parts of the Roman Catholic Church. It was removed from many local calendars by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. It was formerly generally observed on January 23.
In Matthew 1:16, Joseph is described as the husband of Mary. It is probable that Joseph and Mary were betrothed at Nazareth. The term "betrothal" indicates more than an engagement. It was customary to celebrate marriage in two stages, the first that of the contractual arrangements culminating in consent or "betrothal". After a period of perhaps one year in which preparations were made to establish a new home together, the second part stage of actually conveying the wife to that home would be accompanied by a great feast such as that recounted in the Gospel of John as the Marriage Feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-11).
The first definite knowledge of a feast in honour of the espousals of Mary dates from August 29, 1517, when with nine other Masses in honour of Mary, it was granted by Leo X to the Nuns of the Annunciation, founded by Saint Jeanne de Valois. In certain particular churches the espousals of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are honoured with an office on January 23.
The subject of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph is depicted in a fresco in the German Chapel at the Shrine of the Holy House in Loretto, Italy; in a sculpture in the left portico of Holy Family Basilica in Barcelona, Spain; and in a stained glass window at St. Rita Basilica, Cascia, Italy.
- Souvay, Charles. "St. Joseph." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 7 Aug. 2013
- "Background of Betrothal and Divorce", Oblates of St. Joseph
- Holweck, Frederick. "Espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 7 Aug. 2013
- Butler, Alban. The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol. III
- "The Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph, our Patrons", Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata
- Seitz, Ludovic. "The Matrimony", Shrine of the Holy House, Loretto, Italy
- Gaudi, Antoni. "The Betrothal", Holy Family Basilica, Barcelona, Spain
- Consadori, Silvio. "The Betrothal", St. Rita Basilica, Cascia, Italy
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