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Birth Of Our Lady

  • International
  • September 8, 2012
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Generally speaking, the feast day of a saint is not his date of birth, but the day of his death, the day on which he “was born to eternal life”. But there are two notable exceptions to this practice – St John the Baptist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The birth of a child is always a joyful event in a family. As the poet Rabindranath Tagore put it, “Every child comes into the world with the assurance that God has not yet given up on the human race.” The feast of the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, brings more than just this assurance. Mary heralded, in the words of the Church, “the dawn of hope and salvation to the whole world.”

We don’t know when or where Mary was born. In the ancient world, so little were female children valued, that frequently they weren’t even named but just listed – “the third one”, “the dark one”, and so on – much less were their birthdays noted. However Eastern Christianity kept this feast, first in Jerusalem in the 5th century, from where it passed to Rome. It might have been a seasonal remembrance to start with, which later grew into a devotion, and then into a popular feast.

In remembering the ‘girl child’ Mary and honoring her, we also remember millions of girl children across the world, so many of whom are penalized for the accident of birth. Baby girls are aborted more easily, killed on delivery, starved of food and deprived of education, so often sold into sexual slavery or domestic labour. For all these millions of nameless girls, Mary stands as a symbol of hope. God favoured her above all others, and because of this, “all generations call her blessed”. Where she is now, others can follow.
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