Thursday, July 02, 2009

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast of the Visitation was originally kept in the Roman Rite on Ember Friday in Advent. The Gospel on that day is still that of the Visitation. Cardinal Schuster explains how it came to be kept on July 2d:

For many centuries the Byzantines had commemorated on July 2 the deposition in the year 469 of the robe of the Blessed Virgin in the Basilica of Blachernæ. We do not know how this feast came to be observed also by the Latins, but they, influenced by the Octave of St John the Baptist, changed its significance and turned it into a commemoration of the visit of Mary to the home of Zachary and Elizabeth, when the Precursor was sanctified in his mother's womb.

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The Introit is taken from Sedulius, a contemporary of St Jerome, some of whose hymns the Church has incorporated in her Office.

Salve, sancta Parens, enixa puerpera Regem
Qui cælum terramque tenet per sæcula.

Hail, holy Mother, who didst bring for the King, who ruleth heaven and earth for ever.