Ordinary Time: May 31st
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Previous Calendar: Corpus Christi; Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary; St. Petronilla, virgin
The feast of the Visitation recalls to us the following great truths and events: The visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation; the cleansing of John the Baptist from original sin in the womb of his mother at the words of Our Lady's greeting; Elizabeth's proclaiming of Mary—under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost—as Mother of God and "blessed among women"; Mary's singing of the sublime hymn, Magnificat ("My soul doth magnify the Lord") which has become a part of the daily official prayer of the Church. The Visitation is frequently depicted in art, and was the central mystery of St. Francis de Sales' devotions.The Mass of today salutes her who in her womb bore the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Sun of Justice. It narrates the cleansing of John from original sin in his mother's womb. Hearing herself addressed by the most lofty title of "Mother of the Lord" and realizing what grace her visit had conferred on John, Mary broke out in that sublime canticle of praise proclaiming prophetically that henceforth she would be venerated down through the centuries:
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me, and holy is His name" (Lk. 1:46).
—Excerpted from the Cathedral Daily Missal
This feast is of medieval origin, it was kept by the Franciscan Order before 1263, and soon its observance spread throughout the entire Church. Previously it was celebrated on July 2. Now it is celebrated between the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and the birth of St. John the Baptist, in conformity with the Gospel accounts. Some places appropriately observe a celebration of the reality and sanctity of human life in the womb. The liturgical color is white.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Petronilla. The feast of the Queenship of Mary is now celebrated in the Ordinary Rite on August 22.Aurelia Petronilla was guided in the Faith by St. Peter, the first pope. She died three days after refusing to marry a pagan nobleman, Flaccus. There is no historic proof that she was martyred, but an early fresco clearly represents her as a martyr. Her feast is no longer on the calendar.
And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. [Lk. 1:39]
St. Zacharias or Zachary: Priest's robes; thurible; altar; angel; lighted taper; Phyrgian helmet.Things to Do:
- Read Luke 1:39-47, the story of the Visitation. Read and meditate on the words of the Magnificat and the Hail Mary, two prayers from this feast. For those with children, depending on the ages, assign memorization for these prayers. Also discuss the meaning of the text as a family.
- This feast reminds us to be charitable to our neighbors. Try to assist some mother (expectant or otherwise), visit the elderly or sick, make a dinner for someone, etc.
It is probable that Aurelia Petronilla was of the imperial family of the Flavii. The early traditions of the Church speak of her as being the spiritual daughter of the Prince of the Apostles; and though she did not, like Domitilla, lay down her life for the faith, she did offer to Jesus that next richest gift, her virginity. The same venerable authorities tell us also that a Roman Patrician, by name Flaccus, having asked her in marriage, she requested three days for consideration, during which she confidently besought the aid of her divine Spouse. Flaccus presented himself on the third day, but found the palace in mourning, and her family busy in preparing the funeral obsequies of the young virgin, who had taken her flight to heaven, as a dove that is startled by an intruder's approach.
Often portrayed as: Being healed by Saint Peter; early Christian maiden with a broom; holding a set of keys; lying dead but incorrupt in her coffin with flowers in her hair; receiving the newly dead into heaven; spurning a marriage proposal, with a ring being offered by a king; standing with Saint Peter; woman with a dolphin.