“It is a common opinion that Mary was born…just when the smoke of the holocaust….”

From The life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Msgr. R. Gentilucci

It is a common opinion that Mary was born the eighth day of the month of September, which corresponds to the beginning of the month Tisri, that is to say, the first day of the civil year of the Jews, just when the smoke of the holocaust was rising to heaven in expiation for the sins of the people.  And in this agree perfectly the Greek and Latin churches,…*Holding for certain that this “little pillar of smoke,” as Ezechiel calls it, or this “light cloud,” as Elias calls it, came to the light, in the year 3987 of the creation of the world, we shall here give some pious opinions touching this happy birth, relying upon what some of the Fathers, Greek as well as Latin, tell us.

Mary was born in autumn, when nature, more than in any other season, is wont to repay the toil of the husbandmen by giving them the ripened clusters.  “Rejoice, O earth,” says St. John Damascenus, “because from the womb of Anne, as from a fertile vine, has sprung a sweet ripe cluster.  To the harvesting of this vineyard all are invited, none is excluded, it is the joy of all.”  Mary too is born in the autumn,…because it was proper that the new Eve, the mother of the Redeemer, should change tears into joy, at the same time in the year as the first Eve had changed joy into tears.

As the beatitudes are eight in number, this eighth day of the month when she was…born, was admirably chosen, since by her was the whole world to know all beatitude, and since by her, as mother of the Redeemer, were all the elect to be ushered into the glory of heaven, there to enjoy supreme felicity.  She was born, as Luchesino remarks, on the Sabbath, the day when God rested, to show that the human race, at the glorious birth of the Virgin, was to enjoy a real repose.  Hence Saturday is a kind of festival especially consecrated to devotion to our august Lady.

As to the hour of that fortunate day which beheld the birth of Mary, St. Peter Damian believes that it was at daybreak.  Others add, that the sun that day shone with a twofold light, and that on the night preceding her birth, the moon shone with an extraordinary brilliancy, almost like that of the sun, and that for some time, far from showing usual spots, a refulgent star sparkled upon her disc.

St. John Damascenus cries joyfully:  “Yes, by Mary’s birth the human race has been restored, by it the sadness caused by Eve is changed into a perfect joy.”  St. Bernardine of Sienna,…observes joyfully, “that heaven made earth an inestimable present,” and the Abbot Rupert says:  “The nativity of the Virgin is the end of sorrow and the beginning of joy.”


*The menology of St. Basil places the birth of the Blessed Virgin on the 8th of September.  This date is also given in the menology translated into Latin by Cardinal Sorlet, and published by Henry Canisius in his Thesaurus.  The same thing is said in the edict of the Emperor Manuel Comnenus, which fixes the days for the various festivals.  In the Nomocanon of Photius (In Scholiiad ut VII.,) we read:  “Natalis itaque dies purissimae Dominae ac Dei Genitricis, qui est octavus Septembris, feriatus est.”  We find the same day set down in many other Greek authors, as well as in the Latin.

About ihmprayforme

lifelong Catholic; homeschooled our children; have been regularly attending the Tridentine Mass for at least the past 17 years.
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