1503 - Oil on wood, 232 x 146 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."
Assuming that the Annunciation and the Incarnation took place about the vernal equinox, Mary left Nazareth at the end of March and went over the mountains to Hebron, south of Jerusalem, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, because her presence and much more the presence of the Divine Child in her womb, according to the will of God, was to be the source of very great graces to John, Christ's Forerunner.
The event is related in Luke 1:39-57. Feeling the presence of his Divine Savior, John, upon the arrival of Mary, leaped within the womb of his mother Elizabeth; he was then filled with the grace of God.
St. Joseph may have accompanied Mary, returned to Nazareth, and when, after three months, he came again to Hebron to take his wife home, the apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew 1:19-25, may have taken place to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)
PRAYERS and READINGS
Almighty ever-living God,
who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your Son in her womb,
inspired her to visit Elizabeth,
grant us, we pray,
that, faithful to the promptings of the Spirit,
we may magnify your greatness
with the Virgin Mary at all times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jersalem! The Lord has taken away the judgements against you, He has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you in His love; He will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it."
Or Romans 12:9-16
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is he fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, He has put down the mighty from their thorns, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity for ever".
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
Mary's song of praise is known as the Magnificat
See also Marian Feast Page | Pope John Paul II Homily at Lourdes - August 15, 2004
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