We host events for Mary's feasts and other occasions. Please submit your email below to receive notifications.
Solemnity of the Virgin Mary
As the mother of Jesus, Mary tells us who he is. He was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” and from earliest times, Mary has been a key witness to his humanity and divinity. The Council of Ephesus in 431 recognized her testimony that Jesus Christ is truly human and truly divine. Mary, “full of grace” and chosen by God, is honored under the title Mother of God in the liturgies of the western and eastern churches. Appropriately, this principal celebration honoring the maternity of Mary takes place as the Christmas season closes and a new year begins.
“Marvelous is the mystery proclaimed today
Our nature is made new as God becomes man;
He remains what he was and becomes what he was not,
Yet each nature stays distinct and undivided.” Canticle, Morning Prayer
Mary’s Son who came “in the fullness of time” blesses all time:
“The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (First Reading: Numbers 6, 22-27)
Like the shepherds who went “in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger,” Luke’s gospel read on this feast invites us to enter the mystery of Jesus and learn from Mary who “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2, 16-21 )
January 1st begins a month named for the Roman god Janus, the two-faced god who looks ahead and looks back. Mary supports our belief in Jesus Christ as the first believer, and she’s also a guide to the world ahead as well as the world of the past. We pray to the Mother of God that our faith in Jesus Christ be firm and that “we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”
Our Lady of Lourdes
Pope Pius X included the feast of our Lady of Lourdes in the Roman calendar in 1908, just 50 years after the report of Mary's apparitions at the grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes in France to the humble Bernadette Soubirous. There Mary identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary a dogma of the church in 1854.
Dedication of St. Mary Major
This optional memorial celebrates the dedication of the great church of St. Mary Major built in Rome after the Council of Ephesus in 431. The church was one of many churches built after the council throughout the world honoring Mary, the Mother of God, who influenced the council’s deliberations about Jesus her Son.
Early on the church was called St. Mary in Bethlehem because the Christmas celebrations took place there and relics from Bethlehem were placed there. One of the great ancient Icons of Mary is revered in this ancient Roman Church.
Solemnity of the Assumption
Like other major feasts of Mary this feast can be traced back to the church of Jerusalem. Her death on Mount Sion and her burial in the Valley of Jehosophat are mentioned first in an anonymous work, the Transitus Mariae, that may go back in part to the 2nd or 3rd century. (J Murphy-O’Connor, The Holy Land, 148}
A feast of the Dormition, “the falling asleep of Mary,” was celebrated in Jerusalem from the 6th century, gradually spreading to other churches of the east, By the 7th century the Dormition of Mary was adopted in Rome and called the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XII, recognizing the widespread belief in Mary’s assumption into heaven among western Christians, declared it a dogma of the church in 1950.
The readings and prayers for the vigil and the day of the feast proclaim the “singular privilege” Mary received as she was assumed body and soul into heaven. In the gospel for the vigil, a woman from the crowd calls out: “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.” (Luke 11, 27-28). In Luke’s gospel for the day, Mary herself recognizes that the Lord “looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day forward, all generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1,39-56)
In the first reading for the vigil, David joyfully brings the Ark of the Covenant into the tent of God’s presence. ( Chronicles 1, 15, 3-4, 15-18) In the first reading for the day, “a woman clothed with the sun, the moon and the stars at her feet” is a sign in the heavens. (Revelations 11, 19–12, 1-6)
The second readings for vigil and day are from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians affirming the resurrection of the body. “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” ( 1 Corinthians 15.26-28)
The Assumption is portrayed differently in the art of the eastern and western churches. In the western church Mary, radiantly dressed, often surrounded by angels, turns her face to heaven, her destined home. God has singled her out.
The eastern church invariably pictures Jesus standing over his mother’s body, carrying her soul in his arms like a little child. How else would she be at death– only little children can enter the heavenly kingdom? Her Son brings her body and soul to heaven. She bore him in her womb through grace, now she enters heaven through grace.
The apostles surround her body soon to be assumed into the heavenly kingdom. As they witness her death and resurrection they’re strengthened in their belief that the Lord’s promise of resurrection will be fulfilled in them. Mary is a sign that the “first fruits” are being gathered. Angels cry out for heaven’s gates to be opened:
“Open your gates and welcome the One who gave birth to the Creator of Heaven and earth; let us celebrate with hymns of glory her holy and venerable body which housed the Lord who is unseen by us. We also cry out: O worthy of all praise, lift up our heads and save our souls." (Troparion, Feast of the Dormition)
Though Mary’s Assumption is a singular privilege, both western and eastern churches see her as a sign of hope for the whole church. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes that in the preface and prayers for the feast:
“Today, the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of your church’s coming to perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort
to your pilgrim people.” (Preface of the Assumption)
God took Mary, the lowly one, and “raised her up to this grace…crowned this day with surpassing glory. Grant through her prayers that, saved by the mysteries of your redemption, we may merit to be exalted by you on high.” (Collect, Feast of the Assumption)
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary’s birth is one of three important births celebrated in the Roman calendar: the birth of Jesus (December 25), John the Baptist (June 24) and Mary (September 8). Her birth is not mentioned in the scriptures, but an early tradition of the Jerusalem church says she was born near the temple and the pool of Bethsaida (John 5, 1-9), where the church of St. Ann stands today. As far back as the 5th century a feast celebrated her birth there. By the 8th century the feast was also celebrated in Rome. Today it is celebrated by churches of the east and west.
The family record of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 1, 1-23) is the principal reading for this feast because Mary completes “the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.” She conceives by the Holy Spirit and gives birth to him who is “God with us.” Generations, creation itself, awaited the Word who became flesh from her. Her birth is the “daybreak of salvation for all the world.” (Prayer after Communion)
“Mary the dawn; Christ the perfect day.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The celebration, an optional memorial, originated in the Middle Ages in Europe in the Carmelite order and was first listed in the universal Roman calendar in 1726. It’s one of many examples of devotion to Mary by religious communities and local churches throughout the world who recognize her continuing presence in the church as an example of faith and prayer.
The Queenship of Mary
In the Old Testament royal titles are commonly given to God and those specially anointed by God. Titles of royalty are given to Jesus and Mary as signs of their special power. In prayers and hymns like the Salve Regina and the Regina Coeli, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is called Queen.
Instituted in 1955, this memorial marks the octave of the feast of the Assumption and points to Mary's privileged place in heaven. Mary "was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things." (II Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 59)
Our Lady of Sorrows
The memorial celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows was inspired by medieval devotion to the sorrows of Mary. The feast recognizes the sorrows Mary endured all her life as a disciple of her Son. As the old man Simeon held her child in his arms in the temple he predicted a sword would pierce her heart. (Luke 9.23) The Servite order promoted this feast as a memorial of the seven sorrows of Mary.
1. Mary hears the prophecy of sorrow from Simeon.
2. Mary flees with the Child into Egypt.
3. Mary experiences the loss of the Child Jesus in Jerusalem.
4. Mary meets her Son on the road to Calvary.
5. Mary stands beneath the cross of Jesus.
6. Mary receives the body of Jesus taken down from the cross.
7. Mary sees her Son's body placed in the tomb.
Today the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated the day after the feast of the Holy Cross, September 14.
O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.
Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified. (Stabat Mater)
Our Lady of the Rosary
This memorial was celebrated originally in thanksgiving for Mary's intercession for the defeat on October 7, 1571 of Turkish naval forces that threatened Europe. She is a sign that God can raise up the lowly and “cast down the mighty from their thrones.”
The feast today is a reminder of the spiritual power of the Rosary, a simple prayer that recalls God’s gift to his “lowly servant,” and offers the mysteries of Jesus Christ as a means to obtain the promises of Christ.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The memorial of Mary's presentation in the Temple as a child originated in Jerusalem, according to the tradition of that church. The feast celebrates Mary's dedication to God and spread from Jerusalem to the various churches of the east and west. In the western church it became popular in religious communities, where members renewed their religious vows this day, remembering the one who called herself "the maidservant of the Lord.”
St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists, had a special devotion to this feast, which he celebrated with great fervor on Monte Argentario in the first retreat he established.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
This celebration is closely connected to the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. To be the mother of Jesus, God gave Mary unique graces from her conception.
The present feast, celebrated universally in the Roman Catholic Church since the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854, goes back to earlier celebrations in churches of the east and the west.
The earliest celebration was the feast of the Conception of Mary by St. Ann celebrated by eastern Christian churches in the 7th century on December 9th. The feast goes back to Jerusalem where the parents of Mary were honored at a 5th century church dedicated to St. Ann and where a tradition claimed Mary was conceived.
Crusaders brought the feast of St. Ann and the Conception of Mary to churches of the west, and by the 19th century, Pope Pius IX, responding to the growing consensus of theologians and the popular devotion of the faithful–Mary appeared to St. Catherine Labore in 1830 and St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858–declared that Mary was conceived free from original sin because she was to be the Mother of Jesus, God, and man.
The first reading for this feast from the Book of Genesis (Genesis 4,9-15) recalls God’s promise of victory over the serpent through an offspring of Eve. “Every spiritual blessing” will be given through Jesus Christ according to the Letter to the Ephesians. (1, 3-6, 11-12) In the gospel, the angel says to Mary that she is “full of grace.” (Luke 1, 26-36) and will bring forth the Son of “the Most High.”
The bishops of the United States dedicated the country to Mary under the title of her Immaculate Conception in 1846.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mary is honored as "the patroness of the Americas."
The feast originated in the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Juan Diego, a humble Mexican worker, in 1521. It is celebrated as a feast in the liturgical calendar for the USA.
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sat after Feast of the Sacred Heart
Closely related to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the optional memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was instituted in 1942, honoring Mary who treasured the mysteries of Jesus and "pondered them in her heart.”
Mary, the Mother of the Church
Monday after Pentecost
A new feast added to the calendar in 2018. The feast is inspired by the conviction of the participants of the Second Vatican Council that Mary is the Mother of the Church. It is celebrated the Monday after Pentecost, as the days of ordinary time, the season of the Holy Spirit, begin. Mary who stood by the Cross as her Son gave birth to the church is a tender mother and caring guide who stands with the people he redeemed as they live the mystery of redemption day by day.
The Feasts of Mary
The Catholic Church calendar guides our belief about Mary and
her role in the Christian life through feasts. Since the 18th century, the calendar months of May and October have been devoted to Mary. Originating in Spain and Italy, where Mary was honored with “May Devotions”, litanies, the rosary and other special prayers, the practice spread worldwide.
Mary has a place, above all, in the great feasts celebrating the mysteries of Jesus Christ. She has a role in the mysteries of his birth– the Feast of Christmas (December 25), the Annunciation (March 25), the Visitation (May 31), and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (February 2). She has a prominent place in the season of Advent, especially in Luke’s gospel for the 4th week of Advent.
Mary is also present in the paschal feasts that celebrate the mysteries of the death and resurrection of Jesus in Lent and Easter. She stood by his Cross and welcomed him risen from the dead. She was also present at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Besides the feasts recalling the mysteries of Jesus, feasts honoring Mary in a special way occur during the church year. If you'd like to visit Our Mary Garden, here are some key dates we'll be hosting events.