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Ordinary Time: September 8th

Feast of the Nativity of Mary

Daily Readings for: September 08, 2011
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: Father of mercy, give your people help and strength from heaven. The birth of the Virgin Mary's Son was the dawn of our salvation. May this celebration of her birthday bring us closer to lasting peace. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Old Calendar: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; St. Adrian, martyr; St. Corbinian, martyr (Hist) ; Other Titles: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary was born to be the mother of the Savior of the world, the spiritual mother of all men, and the holiest of God's creatures. Because of her Son's infinite merits, she was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. Through her, Queen of heaven and of earth, all grace is given to men. Through her, by the will of the Trinity, the unbelieving receive the gift of faith; the afflicted are tendered the works of mercy; and the members of Christ grow in likeness of their Head. In Mary all human nature is exalted. We rejoice in her birthday, as the Church has done from the earliest times. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar — the Birth of Jesus (December 25), the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the Birthday of Mary. All three were born without original sin, although Mary and Jesus were conceived without sin, and St. John was cleansed of original sin while in the womb at the Visitation of Mary.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today also commemorates St. Adrian. The liturgy of Our Lady's Birthday in Rome included a procession from the church of St. Adrian in the forum. St. Adrian was a Herculian Guard of the Roman Emperor Galerius Maximian. After becoming a convert to Christianity with his wife Natalia, Adrian was martyred at Nicomedia on March 4, 306.

Historically it is the feast of St. Corbinian, a Frank who spent fourteen years as a hermit and then went to Rome, where Pope Gregory II consecrated him bishop and sent him to evangelize Germany.


Birth of Mary
On Our Lady's birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior's mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too. Let us often call upon the Blessed Virgin as "Cause of our joy", one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.

Since September 8 marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In the Old Roman Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day.

The winegrowers in France called this feast "Our Lady of the Grape Harvest". The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.

In the Alps section of Austria this day is "Drive-Down Day" during which the cattle and sheep are led from their summer pastures in the slopes and brought to their winter quarters in the valleys. This was usually a large caravan, with all the finery, decorations, and festivity. In some parts of Austria, milk from this day and all the leftover food are given to the poor in honor of Our Lady’s Nativity.

Excerpted from The Holyday Book by Fr. Francis Weiser, SJ

Patron: All people named Mary, in any form.

Symbols: bruised serpent, sometimes encircling a globe; the lily; fleur de lis; virgin's monogram; pierced heart; crescent moon; sun and moon; starry crown; Mater Dei; rose; flowering almond; gilly flower; snow drop; hawthorn; the star; the balsam; the Ark of the Covenant; the mirror or speculum; apple; myrtle; palm, cypress and olive; closed gate; book of Wisdom; sealed book; rod of Jesse; lily of the valley; house of gold; city of God; vessel of honor; seat of wisdom.

Things to Do:


St. Adrian
While presiding over the torture of a band of Christians, St. Adrian asked them what reward they expected to receive from God. They replied, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him". He was so amazed at their courage that he publicly confessed his faith, though he had not himself yet been baptised. He was then imprisoned himself. He was forbidden visitors, but accounts state that his wife Natalia came to visit him dressed as a boy to ask for his prayers when he entered Heaven.

The next day his limbs were struck off on an anvil, and he was then beheaded, dying in the arms of Natalia. After he was killed, Adrian and several other martyrs were taken to be burned. When the executioners began to burn their bodies, a thunderstorm arose and the furnace was extinguished; lightning killed several of the executioners. Natalia had to be restrained to not throw herself on the fire when Adrian's body was being burned. Christians took Adrian's body and buried him on the outskirts of Byzantium, at Argyropolis.

Natalia went to live there herself, taking one of Adrian's hands which she had recovered. When she herself died, she was buried with the martyrs.

St. Adrian was the chief military saint of Northern Europe for many ages, second only to St. George, and is much revered in Flanders, Germany and the north of France.

Patron: Plague, epilepsy, arms dealers, butchers, guards, soldiers.

Symbols: Depicted armed with an anvil in his hands or at his feet.

Things to Do:


St. Corbinian
Though St. Corbinian was a great Apostle of Bavaria, he was a native of Chatres, in France. He lived alone in a cell close to a chapel for fourteen years. He was sought out for spiritual counsel, and the occurrence of miracles made his holiness further known. Various people desired to form a community with him as their superior, but the disruption in his life caused by the duties that this undertaking required made him decide to go to Rome. A tradition relates that on his way there, after a bear killed his pack horse, he had his servant place his pack on the back of the bear and proceeded with it to the Eternal City. At some point, St. Corbinian was made a bishop, and Pope St. Gregory II sent him to Bavaria. In Freising, he preached with great success. St. Corbinian had been protected by Duke Grimoald, but when the Duke disobeyed Church law and married the widow of his brother without a dispensation, Corbinian condemned the union. The widow, Biltrudis, plotted to have Corbinian killed, but he fled to Meran. Eventually the Duke died in battle. Corbinian was originally buried at a monastery he had founded in Meran, but his body was later moved to Freising.

— Excerpted from 2009 Saints Calendar, Tan Books and Publishers

Patron: Freising, Germany; Archdiocese of Munich, Germany.

Symbols: Bear, bishop making a bear carry his luggage; bishop with a bear and mule.

Things to Do:

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