Ordinary Time: June 6th
Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Other Commemorations: St. Ursula Ledóchowska, Virgin (RM)
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O happy Virgin, you gave birth to the Lord; O blessed mother of the Church, you warm our hearts with the Spirit of your Son Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar. The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.
Today is also the Optional Memorial of St. Norbert.
Mary, Mother of the Church
St. Paul VI, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council in 1964, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church," that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother and established that “the Mother of God should be further honored and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles." But it was not until February 11, 2018, that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments inscribed a new obligatory Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church, into the General Roman Calendar. This memorial is celebrated every year on the Monday after Pentecost, which is appropriate as Mary was also present in that room for the birthday of the Church. By issuing the Decree on the celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, Pope Francis wishes to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety."
The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers. It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ.
“In fact the former [St. Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St. Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”
The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer."
Scripture, the decree says, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.”
In 1964, the decree says, Pope Paul VI “declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother’ and established that 'the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles.’”
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about Mary, Mother of the Church:
- Pray the Prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church as composed by Pope Francis.
Pope St. Paul VI
Pope Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini) was born on 26 September 1897 at Concesio (Brescia), in Italy. On 29 May 1920 he was ordained to the priesthood. In 1924 he began his service to the Supreme Pontiffs, Pius XI and Pius XII, and at the same time exercised his priestly ministry among university students.
Nominated as the Substitute of the Secretariat of State he worked during the Second World War to find shelter for persecuted Jews and refugees. He was later designated Pro-Secretary of State for the General Affairs of the Church, also because of which he knew and encountered many of the proponents of the ecumenical movement. Appointed as Archbishop of Milan, he worked with great care for the diocese.
In 1958, he was elevated to the dignity of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Saint John XXIII, and following his death was elected on 21 June 1963 to the See of Peter. He immediately continued the work begun by his predecessors, in particular, he brought the Second Vatican Council to its completion and he began many initiatives that showed his solicitude for the Church and for the contemporary world. Among these initiatives we ought to recall his voyages as a pilgrim, undertaken as an apostolic service which served both as a preparation for the unity of Christians and in asserting the importance of fundamental human rights.
Furthermore, he exercised his Supreme Magisterium favouring peace, promoting the progress of peoples and the inculturation of the faith, as well as the liturgical reform, approving Rites and prayers at once in line with tradition and with adaptation for a new age. By his authority he promulgated the Calendar, the Missal, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Pontifical and nearly all of the Ritual for the Roman Rite with the purpose of promoting the active participation of the faithful in the Liturgy. At the same time he saw to it that papal celebrations should take on a more simple form.
At Castel Gandolfo on 6 August 1978, he gave his spirit back to God and, according to his wishes, he was buried just as he had lived, in a humble manner.
—from the Vatican Website
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about Pope Paul VI:
- See the Vatican's collection of Paul VI's work during his papacy.
St. Mother Orsola (Giulia) Ledóchowska
"If only I knew how to love, to burn and consume oneself in love" - so the 24 year old Giulia Ledóchowska wrote before taking religious vows, novice in the Ursuline convent of Krakow. On the day of the religious profession she took the name 'Maria Ursula of Jesus', and the words stated above became the guide lines of her entire life. In her mothers' family (of Swiss nationality and of the dynasty of the Salis), as well as in her fathers' (an old Polish family) there were many politicians, military men, ecclesiastics and consecrated people, who were involved in the history of Europe and of the Church. She was raised in a family of numerous brothers and sisters where affectionate and disciplined love was dominant. The first three children, including M. Ursula, chose the consecrated life: Maria Teresa (beatified in 1975) founded the future 'Society of S. Peter Claver' and the younger brother Vladimiro became the general Preposito of the Jesuits.
M. Ursula lived in the convent at Krakow for 21 years. Her love for the Lord, her educational talent and sensibility towards the needs of youngsters in the changing social, political and moral conditions of those times put her at the centre of attention. When women earned the right to study in Universities, she succeeded in organising the first boarding-house in Poland for female students where they not only found a safe place to live and study, but also received a solid religious preparation. This passion, together with the blessing of Pope Pio X, gave her the strength to move into the heart of Russia which was hostile towards the Church. When, in civilian dress, she left with another Sister for Petersburg (where religious life was prohibited) she did not know that she was headed towards an unknown destination and that the Holy Spirit would lead her upon roads she had not foreseen.
In Petersburg the Mother with the steadily growing community of nuns (soon established as an autonomous structure of the Ursulines) lived secretly, and even though, under constant surveillance by the secret police, they brought forward an intense educational and religious project which was also directed towards the encouragement of relationships between Polish and Russians.
When war broke out starts in 1914, M. Ursula had to leave Russia. She headed for Stockholm and during her Scandinavian travels (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) her activity concentrated not only on education, but also on the life of the local Church, on giving aid to the war victims and on ecumenical work. The house where she lived with her nuns became a point of reference for people of different political and religious orientation. Her strong love for her country was the same as her tolerance towards 'diversity' and towards others. Once asked to speak of her political orientation, she promptly answered 'My policy is love'.
In 1920 M. Ursula, her sisters and a vast number of orphan children of immigrants returned to Poland. The Apostolic Headquarters transforms its autonomous convent of the 'Ursulines of the Sacred Agonising Heart of Jesus' The spirituality of the congregation is concentrated on the contemplation of the salvific love of Christ and participation in His mission by means of educational projects and service to others, particularly to the suffering, the lonely and the abandoned who were searching for the meaning of life. M. Ursula educated her sisters to love God above everything else and to find God in every human being and in all Creation. She gave a particularly credible testimony to the personal bond with Christ and to being an efficient instrument of both Evangelical and educational influence by means of her smile and serenity of soul. Her humility and capacity to live the ordinary everyday routine as a privileged road towards holiness made her a clear example of this life style.
The congregation developed quickly. The communities of the Ursuline nuns in Poland and on the eastern frontiers of the country which were poor, multinational and multi-confessional were established. In 1928 the Generalate was established in Rome along with a boarding-house for girls who were economically less well-off, in order to give them the possibility to come into contact with the spiritual and religious richness of the heart of the Church and of European civilisation. The Sisters began to work in the poor suburbs of Rome. In 1930 the nuns accompanied girls in search of work and established themselves in France. Wherever possible M.Ursula founded educational and instructional work centres. She sent the nuns to Catechise and to work in the poor parts of town. She wrote books and articles for children and youngsters.
She initiated and sustained ecclesiastical organisations for children (Eucharistic Movement), for youngsters and for women. She actively participated in the life of the Church and State thus receiving great acknowledgement and decorations from both the State and the Church. When her laborious and not easy life came to an end in Rome on May 29, 1939, people said of her: "She died a saint".
Pope St. John Paul II beatified M. Ursula on June 20, 1983 in Poznan and canonized her on May 18, 2003 at Rome.
—© Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Urszula Ledóchowska:
- See the Sanctuary of St. Ursula.
Monday after Pentecost
Station with San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains):
In spirit we are today in the Basilica in which are preserved the blessed chains worn by St. Peter because, true to his Pentecostal mission, he had proclaimed the glad tidings of redemption. Hail venerable chains! (Msgr Martin Hellriegel).
This church was one of the tituli, Rome's first parish churches, known as the Titulus Eudoxiae or the Eudoxiana. It was built over the ruins of an Imperial villa in 442 (or possibly 439), to house the chains that had bound St. Peter in prison in Jerusalem.
For more on San Pietro in Vincoli, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.