Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady - July 2nd
July 2 – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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Our Lady’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth already engaged our attention while we were preparing for the Christmas festival. But it is only fitting to return again to an event so important in our Lady’s life; the mere commemoration of this mystery made on Ember Friday in Advent would be insufficient to bring forward all it contains of deep teaching and holy joy. Since in the course of centuries, the holy Liturgy has been gaining more and more completeness, it is but natural that this precious mine should come to be further opened in honor of the Virgin Mother. The Order of St. Francis, it would seem, as well as certain particular Churches, such as Rheims and Paris for example, had already taken the initiative, when Urban VI, in 1389, instituted today’s solemnity. The Pope counselled a fast on the vigil of the feast, and ordered that it should be followed by an octave; he granted for its celebration the same indulgences as Urban IV had, in the previous century, attached to the festival of Corpus Christi. The Bull of promulgation, stopped by the Pontiff’s death, was again taken up and published by Boniface IX, his successor on the Chair of Peter.

We learn from the Lessons of the Office formerly composed for this feast, that the end of its institution was, as Urban conceived it, to obtain the cessation of the schism then desolating the Church. The papacy, exiled from Rome for seventy years, had barely re-entered it, when hell, infuriated at a return which crossed all its plans, had taken revenge by ranging under two leaders the Flock of the one Sheepfold. So deep was the obscurity wherewith miserable intrigues contrived to cover the authority of the legitimate Shepherd, that numbers of Churches, in all good faith, began to hesitate, and ended at last in preferring the deceptive staff of a hireling. Thicker yet was the darkness to grow, till night should be so dense, that for a moment the conflicting mandates of three Popes would simultaneously spread through the world; while the Faithful, struck with stupor, would be at utter loss to discern accurately which was the voice of Christ’s true Vicar. Never had the Bride of the Son of God been in a more piteous situation. But Our Lady, to whom the true Pontiff had turned at the first rising of the storm, deceived not the Church’s confidence. During all those years while the unfathomable justice of the Most High let the powers of hell hold sway, she stood for the defense of holy Church, trampling the head of the old serpent so thoroughly under her victorious foot, that despite the terrific confusion he had stirred up, his filthy spume could not sully the faith of the people. Their attachment was steadfast to the unity of the Roman See, whosoever it might be, in this uncertainty, its veritable occupant. Thus the West, divided in fact, but, in principle, ever one and undivided, reunited herself spontaneously as soon as God’s moment came for the return of light. The hour having arrived for the Queen of Saints to assume the offensive, she would not content herself with merely re-establishing, at its former post, the army of the elect; hell now must expiate his audacity, by being forced to yield back to holy Church those conquests which for centuries had seemed his forever. The tail of the dragon had not yet ceased to whisk at Basle, when Florence had already beheld the heads of the Greek schism, the Armenians and Ethiopians, the cavillers of Jerusalem, of Syria, and of Mesopotamia, all compensating by their unhoped-for adhesion to the Roman Pontiff for the anguish just suffered in the West.

It was now to be shown that such a return of nations, in the very midst even of the tempest, was indeed the work of Her who had been called upon by the Pilot, half a century before, to succor the Bark of Peter. Even they of the factious assembly of Basle gave proof of this, in a way which has unfortunately been too much overlooked by historians who undervalue the high importance that liturgical facts hold in the history of Christendom. When about to separate, these last abettors of the schism devoted the forty-third session of their pretended council to the promulgation of this very feast of the Visitation, in the first establishment of which Urban VI had, from the outset, placed all his hoped. Notwithstanding the resistance of some of the more obstinate, the schism may, from that hour, be said to have ended. The storm was subsiding; the name of Mary, invoked thus by both sides, shone resplendent as the sign of peace amidst the clouds, even as the rainbow in its sweet radiance unites both extremities of the horizon. Look upon it, says the Holy Ghost, and bless him that made it: it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasseth the heaven about, with the circle of its glory: the hands of the most High have displayed it.

But, it may be asked, why was the feast of the Visitation specially chosen, more than any other, as the monument of restored peace? The answer seems to be suggested in the very nature of the mystery itself and in the manner of its accomplishment.

Here, more particularly, does Mary appear as the Ark of the Covenant, bearing within her the Emmanuel, the living Testimony of a more true reconciliation, of an alliance more sublime between earth and heaven, than that limited compact of servitude entered into between Jehovah and the Jews, amidst the roar of thunder. By her means, far better than through Adam, all men are now brethren; for He whom she hides within her is to be the First-born of the great family of the sons of God. Scarce is he conceived than there begins for him the mighty work of universal propitiation. Arise, then, O Lord, into thy resting place, thou and the Ark which thou hast sanctified, whence thine own sanctity will pour down upon our earth! During the whole of her rapid passage from Nazareth to the mountains of Judea, she shall be protected by wings of Cherubim jealously eager to contemplate her glory. Amidst his truest warriors, amidst Israel’s choirs of singing men, David conducted the figurative Ark from the house of Adinadab to that of Obededom; but better far, the escort deputed by the Eternal Father for this sacred Ark of the New Covenant, troops of the noblest princes of the heavenly phalanx.

Favored with benediction was that Levite’s house, while for three months it sheltered the Most High hidden on the golden propitiatory: more favored still, the home of the priest Zachary, harboring, for the same lapse of time, Eternal Wisdom enshrined in the Virginal womb, wherein that union, so ambitioned by his Love, had just been accomplished. Yet beneath Zachary’s roof, blessed as it was, the enemy of God and man was still holding one captive: the angelic embassy that had announced John’s miraculous conception and birth could not exempt him from the shameful tribute that every son of Adam must pay to the prince of death, on entering into this life. As formerly as Azotus, so now Dagon may not remain standing erect in face of the Ark. Mary appears; and Satan, at once overturned, is subjected to utter defeat in John’s soul, a defeat that is not to be his last; for the Ark of the Covenant will not stay its victories till the reconciliation of the last of the elect be effected.

Let us then hymn this day with songs of gladness; for this Mystery contains the germ of every victory gained by the Church and her sons: henceforth the sacred Ark is borne at the head of every combat waged by the new Israel. Division between man and his God is at an end, between the Christian and his brethren! The ancient Ark was powerless to prevent the scission of the tribes; henceforth if schism and heresy do hold out for a few short years against Mary, it shall be but to evince more fully her glorious triumph at last. In all ages, because of Her, even as today and under the very eyes of the enemy now put to confusion, little ones shall rejoice, all shall be filled with benediction, and pontiffs shall be perfected. Let us join the tribute of our songs to John’s exulting gladness, to Elizabeth’s sudden exclamations, to Zachary’s canticle; therewith let earth re-echo! Thus is bygone days was the Ark hailed as it entered the Hebrew camp. Hearing their shout, the Philistines learned that help had come from the Lord; and seized with terror, they groaned aloud saying: Wo to us; for there was no such great joy yesterday and the day before: Wo to us! Verily this day, the whole human race, together with John, leaps for joy and shouts with a great shout; verily this day has the old enemy good reason to lament: the heel of the woman, as she stamps him down, makes his haughty head to wince for the first time: and John, set free, is hereby the precursor of us all. More happy are we, the new Israel, than was the old, for our glory shall never be taken away; never shall be wrested from us that sacred Ark which has led us dry-shod across the river, and has levelled fortresses to the dust at its approach.

Justly then is this day, whereon an end is put to the series of defeats begun in Eden, the day of new canticles for a new people! But who may intone the hymn of triumph, save She to whom the victory belongs? “Arise, arise, O Debbora, arise,—arise and utter a canticle. The valiant men ceased and rested in Israel, until Mary arose, the true Debbora, until a Mother arose in Israel. It is I, it is I,” saith she, “that will sing to the Lord, I will sing to the Lord the God of Israel. O magnify the Lord with me, as saith my grandsire David, and let us extol his Name together. My heart hath rejoiced, like that of Anna, in God my Savior. For even as in his handmaid Judith, by me he hath fulfilled his mercy, so that my praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever. For mighty is he that hath done great things in me; there is none holy as he. Even as by Esther, he hath throughout all generations saved those who feared him; in the power of his arm, he hath turned against the impious one the projects of his own heart, driving proud Amam out of his seat and uplifting the humble; the bow of the mighty is overcome, and the weak are girt with strength; the abundance of them that were rich hath passed to the hungry and they are filled; he hath remembered his people, and hath had pity on his inheritance. Such, indeed, was the promise that Abraham received and our fathers have handed down unto us: and he hath done to them even as he had promised.”

Daughters of Sion and all ye who groan in the thraldom of Satan, the hymn of deliverance has sounded in our land! Following in Her train, who beareth within her the Pledge of alliance, let us form into choirs; better than Mary, Aaron’s sister, and by yet juster title, she leads the concerts of Israel. So sings she on this day of triumph, and the burthen of her song gathers into one all the victorious chants which, in the ages of expectation, preluded this divine canticle of hers. But the past victories of the elect people were but figures of that which is gained by our glorious Queen on this day of her manifestation; for she, beyond Debbora, Judith, or Esther, has truly brought about the deliverance of her people; in her mouth the accents of her illustrious predecessors pass, from the burning aspiration of the prophetic age to the calm ecstasy which denotes her being already in possession of the long expected God. A new era is meetly inaugurated by sacred chants: divine praise receives from Mary that character which henceforth it is never to lose, not even in eternity.

The preceding considerations have been suggested by the special motive which led the Church to institute this feast in the fourteenth century. Again, in our own day, has Mary shown that this date is indeed for her a day of victory. On the Second of July, in the year 1849, Rome was restored to the exiled Pontiff, Pius IX. But we should far exceed the limits of our present scope, were we to strive to exhaust the teachings of this vast mystery, the Visitation. Besides, some have been already given in our Advent volume; and others, more recently on the feast and octave-day of Saint John’s Nativity. What we mean to add further on this subject, is brought to light by the Epistle and gospel of the Mass given below.

On this day whereon Satan, for the first time, sees his infernal crew fall back in face of the sacred Ark, two warriors of the army of the elect take their rank in our Queen’s cortège. Deputed by Peter himself, during this his glad Octave, to wait upon Mary, they have earned this honor by reason of their faith, which taught them to recognize in Nero’s condemned criminal the chief of God’s people.

The Prince of the Apostles was awaiting his martyrdom in the dungeon of the Mamertine prison, when, led by divine Mercy, there came to him two Roman soldiers, the very ones whose names have become inseparable from his own in the Church’s memory. One was called Processus, the other Marinianus. They were struck by the dignity of the old man, confided for some hours to their ward, who should not again see daylight till he must perish on the gibbet. Peter spoke to them of Life Eternal and of the Son of God who so lived men as to give the last drop of his Blood for their ransom. Processus and Martinianus received with docile heart this unexpected instruction; they accepted it with simple faith, and craved the grace of regeneration. But water was wanting in the dungeon, and Peter must needs make use of that power to command nature, bestowed by our Lord upon the apostles when he sent them into the world. At the word of the old man a fountain sprang up from the ground, and the two soldiers were baptized in the miraculous water. Christian piety still venerates this fountain which never either brims over or dries up. Processus and Martinianus were not slow to pay with their life for the honor conferred upon them of being thus initiated into the Christian faith by the Prince of the apostles, and they are numbered among God’s martyrs.

Their cultus is as ancient as that of Peter himself. In the age of peace, a Basilica was raised over their tomb. St. Gregory pronounced there, on the solemn anniversary of their combat, his thirty-second Homily on the Gospel. The great Pontiff therein renders testimony to the miracles which were operated on that holy spot, and he celebrates, in particular, the power which those two Saints have of protecting their devout clients on the day of the Lord’s Justice. Later on, St. Pascal I enriched the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles with their bodies. They now occupy the place of honor in the left arm of the Latin cross formed by the immense edifice, and they give their name to the whole of this side of the transept, wherein the Vatican Council held its immortal sessions; fitting was it that this august assembly should carry on its labors under the patronage of these two valiant warriors, who were not only St. Peter’s guards, but his conquest in the days of his own glorious confession. Let us not forget these illustrious protectors of Holy Church. The Feast of the Visitation, of more recent institution, has not lessened theirs; though their glory is now, so to say, lost in that of Our Lady, their power can but have gained in strength by this very approximation to the gentle Queen of earth and heaven.

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The Intriot is that of the Votive Masses of Our Lady for this part of the year. It is taken from Sedulius, the Christian poet of the fifth century, from whom the holy Liturgy borrowed so many graceful pieces at Christmas and Epiphany. Who can fail to recognize today in the sublime Magnificat which is the glory of this festival, the good Word of which our Intriot-Verse sings, or in other words, the Work which the Virgin Mother offers to the King!

Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera Regem: qui cœlum terramque regit in sæcula sæculorum.
Hail, holy Mother, who didst bring forth the King; who rules heaven and earth for ever.

Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.
℣. Gloria Patri. Salve.

Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King.
℣. Glory, &c. Hail.

Peace is the precious gift which earth was ceaselessly imploring since the original fall. Rejoice then now: for the Prince of Peace this day reveals himself by Mary. The solemn commemoration of the Mystery which we are celebrating will develop within us the work of salvation begun in that of Christmas at the opening of our cycle. Let us beg this grace, in the words of the Church, in her Collect.

Famulis tuis, quæsumus Domine, cœlestis gratiæ munus impertire: ut, quibus beatæ Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium, Visitationis ejus votiva solemnitas pacis tribuat incrementum. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord, to bestow on thy servants the gift of heavenly grace, that for those to whom the blessed Virgin’s child-birth was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her Visitation may procure increase of peace. Through our Lord, &.

In private Masses, at the end of the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of the feast, a Commemoration is made of the holy Martyrs Processus and Martinianus.

Commemoration of Saints Processus and Martinianus:

Deus, qui nos sanctorum Martyrum tuorum Processi et Martiniani gloriosis confessionibus circumdas et protegis: da nobis, et eorum imitatione proficere, et intercessione gaudere. Per Dominum.
O God, who dost surround and protect us by the glorious confessions of thy holy Martyrs, Processus and Martinianus; grant us to profit by their example, and rejoice in their intercession. Through our Lord, &c.

Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. Cantic. II.

Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. The voice of my beloved: that is, the preaching of the gospel surmounting difficulties figuratively here expressed by mountains and little hills. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.

Quote:The Church introduces us into the depth of the Mystery. What she has just been reading to us is but the explanation of that word of Elizabeth’s which sums up the whole of today’s feast: when they voice sounded in mine ear, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. O Voice of Mary, voice of the turtle, putting winter to flight, and announcing spring-tide flowers and fragrance! At this sweet sound, John’s soul, a captive in the darkness of sin, casts off the badge of slavery, and suddenly developing germs of highest virtues, appears beauteous as a bride decked in nuptial array: and therefore, how Jesus hastes unto this well-beloved soul! Between John and the Bridegroom, oh! what ineffable outpourings! what sublime dialogues pass between them, from womb to womb of Mary and Elizabeth! Admirable Mothers! Sons yet more admirable! In this happy meeting, the sight, the hearing, the voice of the Mothers belong less to themselves than to the blessed fruit each bears within her; thus their senses are the lattices through which the Bridegroom and Friend of the Bridegroom see one another, understand one another, speak one to the other!

The animal man, it is true, understands not this language. Father, the Son of God will soon exclaim: I give thee thanks for that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Let him, therefore, that hath ears to hear, hear; but, Amen I say unto you, unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor know its mysteries. Wisdom shall nevertheless be justified by her children, as the Gospel says. The simple-hearted in quest of light, with all the straightforwardness of humility, let pass unheeded those mocking flickers that sport across the marshes of the world; they know right well that the first ray of the Eternal Sun will disperse these thin phantoms, leaving sheer emptiness before those who run in pursuit of them. For their part, these wise little ones already feed upon that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, having a foretaste, here below, of eternal delights.

Ineffably is John the Baptist experiencing all this. Accosted by the divine Friend who has been beforehand in seeking him, his soul at once awakens to full ecstasy. Jesus, on his side, is now making His first conquest; for it is to John, that is first addressed amongst all creatures (Mary of course excepted) the sacred Nuptial-song uttered in the Soul of the Word made Flesh, making His divine Heart throb with emotion. Yes, it is today (our Epistle tells us so), that in concert with the Magnificat, the divine Canticle of Canticles is likewise inaugurated, in the entire acceptation that the Holy Ghost wishes to give it. Never more fully than on this happy day shall the sacred ravishments of the Spouse be justified; never shall they find a more faithful response! Let us warm ourselves at these celestial fires; let us join our enthusiasm to that of Eternal Wisdom who makes His first step, this day, in His royal progress towards mankind. Let us unite with our Jesus in imploring the Precursor at last to show himself. Were it not ordered otherwise from on High, his inebriation of love would verily have made him at once break down the wall that held him from appearing, then and there, to announce the Bridegroom. For well knows he that the sight of his countenance, preceding the Face of the Lord Himself, will excite the whole earth to transports; he knows that his own voice will be sweet when once it has become the organ of the Word calling the Bride unto Him.

Together with Elizabeth, let us extol, in our Gradual, the Blessed Virgin to whom we owe all these joys of ours, and within whom love still keeps inclosed Him whom the whole world could not contain. The distich which is sung in the Verse was especially dear to the piety of the Middle Ages; it is to be found in different Liturgies, either as the opening line of the Hymn, or under the form of an Antiphon, in the composition of Masses or of Offices.

Benedicta et venerabilis es, Virgo Maria, quæ sine tactu pudoris, inventa es Mater Salvatoris.
Thou art blessed and venerable, O Virgin Mary: who without any violation of purity, wert found the Mother of our Savior.

℣. Virgo Dei Genitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit viscera factus homo.
℣. O Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world is unable to contain, being made Man, inclosed Himself in thy womb.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Felix es, sacra Virgo Maria, et omni laude dignissima: quia ex te ortus est Sol justitiæ, Christus Deus noster. Alleluia.
℣. Thou art happy, O Holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise: because from thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. Alleluia.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke. Ch. I.

At that time, Mary rising up went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Quote:Mary, having learned from the archangel that Elizabeth was about to become a mother, is preoccupied with the thought of the services that will soon be needed by her cousin and the infant; she, therefore, starts at once on her journey across the mountains, amidst which stands the house of Zachary. Thus does the charity of Christ act, thus does it press, when it is genuine. There is no state of soul, in which under the pretext of more exalted perfection, the Christian may be allowed to forget his brethren. Mary had just contracted the highest union with God; and our imagination might perhaps be inclined to picture her, as it were, in a state of powerlessness, lost in ecstasy during these days in which the Word, taking Flesh of her flesh, is inundating her in return with the floods of his Divinity. The Gospel, however, is explicit on this subject: it particularly says that it was in those days even, that the humble Virgin, hitherto quietly hid in the secret of the Lord’s face, rose up to devote herself to all the bodily as well as the spiritual needs of a neighbor in such condition. Does that mean to say that works are superior to prayer, and that contemplation is not the better part? No, certainly not; for indeed never did Our Lady so directly and so fully adhere to God with her whole being as at this very time. But the creature when he has attained the summits of the unitive life, is all the more apt and fitted for exterior works, inasmuch as no lending of himself thereto, can distract him from the immovable center wherein he is fixed.

A signal privilege is this, resulting from that division of the spirit and the soul, to which all attain not, and which marks one of the most decisive steps in the spiritual life; for it supposes a purification of man’s entire being so perfect, that in very truth he is no other than one spirit with the Lord; it entails so absolute a submission of the powers, that without clashing one with the other, they yield, each in its particular sphere, obedience simultaneously to the divine breathing.

So long as the Christian has not yet crossed this last defile, defended with such obstinacy by nature to the last, so long as he has not yet won that holy liberty of the children of God, he cannot possibly turn to man, without, in some way, quitting God. Not that he ought, on that account, to neglect his duties towards his neighbor, in whom God wishes us to see no other than Himself; but, nevertheless, blessed is he who (like Mary) loses naught of the better part, the whole he attends to his obligations towards others! Yet how few are such privileged souls! and what a delusion it is to persuade ourselves to the contrary!

We shall return to these thoughts on the day of Our Lady’s triumphant Assumption; but the Gospel to which we have just been listening makes it a duty for us, even now, to draw the attention of the reader to this point. Our Lady has especially on this feast a claim to be invoked as the model of those who devote themselves to works of mercy; and if to all it is by no means given to keep their spirit, at the same moment, more than ever immersed in God, all, nevertheless, ought constantly to strive to approach, by the practice of recollection and divine praise, to those luminous heights whereon their queen shows herself, this day, in all the plenitude of her ineffable perfections.

The Offertory sings the glorious privilege of Mary, Mother and Virgin, bringing forth Him who made her.

Beata es, Virgo Maria, quæ omnium portasti Creatorem: genuisti qui te fecit, et in æternum permanes virgo.
Thou art blessed, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things: thou didst bring forth Him who made thee, and thou remainest for ever a Virgin.

The Son of God, being born of Mary, consecrated her Virginal integrity. Let us beg of him in today’s Secret, to vouchsafe, in memory of his Mother, to purify us of every stain, and so render our offering acceptable to God on high.

May the Humanity of thy Only-begotten Son succor us, O Lord; that Jesus Christ our Lord, who, when born of a Virgin did not diminish, but consecrated the integrity of his Mother, may, on this solemnity of her Visitation, deliver us from our sins, and make our oblation acceptable to thee. Who liveth, &c.

Commemoration of SS. Processus and Martinianus.

Suscipe, Domine, preces et munera: quæ ut tuo sint digna conspectu, sanctorum tuorum precibus adjuvemur. Per Dominum.
Receive, O Lord, our prayers and offerings, and that they may be worthy of thy regard, may we be helped by the prayers of thy Saints. Through our Lord, &c.


Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: Et te in Visitatione beatæ Mariæ semper virginis collaudare, benedicere, et prædicare. Quæ et Unigenitum tuum Sancti Spiritus obumbratione concepit, et virginitatis gloria permanente, lumen æternum mundo effudit Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates, Cœli, cœlorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God: And that we should praise, bless, and glorify the Visitation of the Blessed Mary ever a Virgin, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost conceived thine Only-Begotten Son, and, the glory of her virginity still remaining, brought forth the eternal Light to the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise thy Majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the Heavens, the heavenly Virtues, and blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee glorify it. Together with whom we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying: Holy, Holy, Holy.

The Church possesses now within her, in the sacred Mysteries, the same Son of the Eternal Father whom Mary bore for nine months in her blessed womb. Therein did he take flesh, in order to come to us all. Let us then hail, in our Communion Antiphon, both the Mother and the Son.

Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium.
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father.

The celebration of each one of the mysteries of our Salvation, by the participation of the divine Sacrament which contains them all, is a means of obtaining that evil be kept afar from us, both in this world and the next. This thought is expressed in the Postcommunion, touching on today’s mystery.

Sumpsimus, Domine, celebritatis annuæ votiva sacramenta: præsta, quæsumus; ut et temporalis vitæ nobis remedia præbeant et æternæ. Per Dominum.
We have received, O Lord, the votive mysteries of this annual celebration, grant, we beseech thee, that they may bestow upon us remedies both for time and eternity. Through our Lord, &c.

Commemoration of SS. Processus and Martinianus.

Corporis sacri, et prætiosi Sanguinis repleti libamine, quæsumus Domine Deus noster: ut quod pia devotione gerimus, certa redemptione capiamus. Per eumdem Dominum.
Replenished with the nourishment of thy sacred Body and precious Blood, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that what we perform with pious devotion, we may receive with assured redemption. Through the same, &c.

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Who is she that cometh forth beautiful as the morning rising, terrible as an army set in array? O Mary, this is the day that thine exquisite brightness, for the first time, gladdens our earth. Thou bearest within thee the Sun of Justice; and his early beams striking first the mountain tops whilst the vales below are yet left in darkness, he at once illumines the precursor, than whom a greater hath not been born of woman. The divine Luminary, swift on his ascending course, will soon bathe the lowly valleys in his radiant fires. But how full of grace and beauty are these his first gleams peering through the veiling cloud! For thou, O Mary, art the light cloud, the hope of earth, the terror of hell. Contemplating from afar, through its heavenly transparency, the mystery of this day, Elias, the father of prophets, and Isaias, their prince, did both of them descry the Lord. They beheld thee speeding thy way across the mountains, and they blessed God; “for,” saith the Holy Ghost, “when winter hath congealed the waters into crystal, withered the valleys, and consumed as with fire the green mountains, a present remedy to all is the speedy coming of a cloud.”

Haste thee, then, O Mary! Come thou to all of us, and let not the mountains alone enjoy thy benign influence; bend thee down to those lowly ignoble regions wherein the greater part of mankind but vegetates, helpless to scale yonder mountain heights; yea, let thy kindly visit reach down even to the deepest abyss of human perversity well nigh bordering on the gulf of hell; let the beams of saving light reach even there. Oh! would that from the thraldom of sin, from the plain where the vulgar throng is swaying to and fro, we were drawn to follow in thy train! How beauteous are thy footsteps along these our humble pathways, how aromatic the perfumes wherewith thou dost inebriate earth this day! Thou wast all unknown, nay, thou wast even an enigma to thyself, O thou fairest among the daughters of Adam, until this thy first going forth, led thee unto our poor hovels, and manifested thy power. The desert, suddenly embalmed with heavenly fragrance, hails the passage, not of the figurative Ark, but of the “Litter of the true Solomon,” in these days of the sublime nuptials which has vouchsafed to contract. what wonder then, if at rapid pace thou dost speed across the mountains, since thou art bearing the Bridegroom who, as a giant, strideth from peak to peak?

Far different art thou, O Mary, from her who is portrayed in the divine Canticle as hesitating, in spite of the heavenly call, to betake herself to active work, foolishly captivated by the sweets of mystic repose, in such way as to dream of finding it elsewhere than in the absolute good pleasure of the Beloved! Thou art not one, at the voice of the spouse, to make difficulties about clothing thyself again with the garment of toil, of exposing thy feet, were it never so little, to be soiled with the dusty roads of earth. Nay, rather; scarce has he given himself to thee immeasurably, as none else can know, than (ever on thy guard against the mistake of remaining all absorbed in selfish enjoyment of his love) thou thyself dost invite him to begin at once the great work which brought him down from heaven to earth: “Come, my Beloved, let us go forth into the fields, let us get up early to see if the vineyard flourish, to hasten the budding of the fruits of salvation in souls; there, there it is, that I wish to be all thine.” And, leaning upon him, no less than he upon thee, without thereby losing aught of heavenly delight, thou dost traverse our desert; and the holy Trinity perceiveth between this Mother and her Son sympathies, harmonious agreements, unknown until then even to her; and the friends of the Bridegroom, hearing thy sweet voice, on their side also comprehend his love and partake in thy joy. With him, with thee, O Mary, age after age shall behold souls innumerable, who, swift footed even as the mystic roe and the young hart, will flee away from the valleys and gain the mountain heights where, in the warm sunshine, heaven’s aromatic spices are ever fragrant.

Bless, O Mary, those whom the better part so sweetly attracts. Protect that Order whose glory is to honor in a special manner thy Visitation. Faithful to the spirit of their illustrious Founders, they still continue to justify their sweet title by perfuming the Church on earth with the fragrance of that humility, gentleness, and hidden prayer, which made this day’s mystery so dear to the angels eighteen hundred years ago. In fine, O Lady, forget not the crowded ranks of those whom grace presses, more numerously than ever, nowadays, to tread in thy footsteps, mercifully seeking out every object of misery; teach them the way in which alone it is possible to devote themselves to their neighbor, without in any way quitting God: for the greater glory of God and the happiness of man, multiply such faithful copies of thee. May all of us, having followed in the degree measured out to us by him who divides his gifts to each one as he wills, meet together in our home yonder, to sing in one voice together with thee, an Eternal Magnificat!

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"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Archangel Gabriel, while announcing to the Blessed Virgin Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, informed her also of the fact that her cousin Elizabeth, who, advanced in years, had long been barren, was about to be blessed with a son. Mary rejoiced greatly at this news, and having given thanks to the Almighty for the priceless grace of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, she hastened to visit her cousin. This, however, was not done, as some heretics maintain, because she doubted the words of the Angel; for, Elizabeth herself, when already filled with the Holy Ghost, proved the contrary by the words with which she received the Virgin: "Blessed art thou that hast believed." Quite different were the reasons which led Mary to make this visit. I shall here give two of them, taken from the holy Fathers of the Church. The first is from St. Chrysostom, who says: "The Son of God, who came into the world to save mankind, desired, immediately on His entering the world, to prove His love for man, and fulfil the divine office of Redeemer. Hence He moved the heart of His holy mother, in whose virginal womb He was concealed, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, in order that by His presence He might cleanse His fore-runner, John, whom his mother still carried in her bosom, from original sin. He could have done this while absent, but He intended to give us a glorious example of humility, in visiting one who was so infinitely below Him. "The greater," says St Ambrose, "went to the lesser: Jesus to John."

The second reason is from St. Jerome, who thus writes: "As the Virgin greatly rejoiced at the favor the Almighty had bestowed on her pious cousin Elizabeth, she desired to manifest her joy to the latter, to congratulate her, and to give thanks and praise with her to the divine Mercy which had bestowed upon both of them such great benefits. Besides this it was her intention--which she also carried into effect--to wait on her cousin, who was already in the decline of life. Perhaps also, the great favor which our Lord would bestow upon Elizabeth and the yet unborn John by this visit, was revealed to her. Certain it is that her object was most holy, and that she left us a splendid example of humility and kindness, showing us that we must not only love our neighbors, but also assist and visit them, and, according to circumstances, serve them, regardless of their being much lower than we; as she, the Blessed Virgin, although raised to the highest dignity as the mother of the Lord, hesitated not to visit and assist her cousin, who was so much below her. Actuated by these motives, Mary set out, and went from Nazareth to the city of Hebron, which belongs to the tribe of Juda. According to some authors, this city is 38 or 40 miles from Nazareth, and could be reached only by travelling over a hilly country; hence this journey was very fatiguing for so delicate a maiden as Mary. But she undertook it rejoicingly.

The Gospel says: "She went into the hill country with haste." Why with haste? Not only to show her joy and willingness, but also, as Origen writes: " Because the Saviour, concealed in her bosom, desired to cleanse His precursor and to sanctify him; "or, as St. Ambrose says, "because Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, who is never satisfied with hesitating and tarrying." The love within her, the grace of the Holy Ghost, persuaded Mary to hasten. Mary went hastily over the mountains that she might the sooner return to her beloved solitude. She did not wish to be for a long time out of her house. This additional reason is given by the above cited St. Ambrose, who adds: "Learn from it, maidens, not to wander about in strange houses, nor to remain in the streets, nor to hold long conversations in public places." Having arrived at Hebron and entered her cousin's house, she joyfully greeted Elizabeth, and at the same moment a twofold miracle happened. John, still in his mother's womb, leaped with joy, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. This leaping is regarded by the Holy Fathers as a more than natural movement of the child, and at the same time as a sign that John, endowed, by especial grace of God, with the light of reason, recognized by revelation, in the virginal womb of Mary, the presence of his Saviour, and, full of joy, worshipped Him. "He recognized the Lord in the mother's womb, and greeted Him with exultation," says St. Irenaeus. It is the opinion of the Holy Fathers that John was at that time cleansed from original sin and filled with the Holy Ghost. For, the Angel who had announced his birth, had, at the same time, foretold that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost while still in his mother's womb.

Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Ghost when she heard Mary's greeting, and recognized by divine revelation that Mary would become the mother of the Incarnate Word. Hence she cried: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." With these words Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was raised by God above all other women, and was more than all others blessed, because she had become the mother of Him who is the source of all graces and blessings. On account of the blessed, and more than blessed fruit of her womb, namely, on account of the only-begotten Son of God, whom she was carrying in her virginal womb, is she blessed, blessed far above all human kind. Thus spoke Elizabeth, full of the Holy Ghost; and it is to be remarked that those who deny this, like the heretics, do not speak filled with the Holy Ghost, with the Spirit of Truth, but prompted by the spirit of falsehood. Wherever the Holy Ghost has spoken out of the mouth of man, He has praised the Virgin. Whoever, therefore, speaks of her disparagingly, does not speak the words of the Holy Ghost, but those of the spirit of error.

After Elizabeth had thus praised Mary and exalted her above all women, she said, full of deep surprise: "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" She esteemed herself not worthy to be visited by the mother of her Lord, as in later years, her son esteemed himself not worthy to loose the latchets of His shoes. Hereupon, she related what had happened to her child, how it had leaped for joy and added: "Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord." This proves that she knew by revelation what had taken place in the Blessed Virgin and what the Angel had further prophesied. Mary, the Divine Mother, heard all this, but her deep humility allowed her not to elevate herself in the least on account of it. She recognized that all that was done to her was done by the grace of the Almighty, to whom she therefore owed praise and thanks. Hence she sang a hymn of praise which far surpassed all those sung by Moses and his sister, by Anna and Deborah, Ezechias and the three companions of Daniel. In this hymn of praise, she first exalts the Lord for the graces which He had bestowed upon her; secondly, for the favors which He had bestowed on His people before the arrival of Christ; and finally, for the fulfilment of the promises in regard to the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son. The beginning of this hymn is as follows: "My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Volumes are filled with commentaries on this mysterious hymn of praise, and the Christian Church uses it daily in the office, to thank and praise the Almighty for the immeasurable grace of the Incarnation.

This is what we know from Holy Writ of the history of today's festival; and it is only to be added that the visitation of Mary conferred great blessings to the house of Elizabeth. These were without doubt augmented by the prolonged sojourn of Mary, who, as the Gospel relates, remained with her cousin almost three months. If the Almighty richly blessed the house of Obededom, because, as Holy Writ tells us, the Ark of the Covenant was kept there during three months, how great must have been the blessings He bestowed upon the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth, whilst the living Ark of the New Testament, the Blessed Virgin, remained there. St. Ambrose entertains no doubt that the purity and innocence of St. John's life was the result of the grace which Mary's presence poured into his soul. We must also consider how willing Mary is to come to our assistance. No sooner had she become Mother of the Lord, than she desired to show that she had become also the loving mother of mankind. She was not called, she was not entreated to come, but went to Elizabeth, prompted by her own kindness. She proved herself gracious to the sinner as well as to the just. Through her Son she purified St. John, stained with original sin, and bestowed on the pious Elizabeth many precious graces. What confidence towards the Blessed Virgin should this awaken in us, whether we be counted among the sinners or the just!

Finally, let us consider in what manner the Lord, having become man, bestowed His grace. He desired to purify His forerunner from original sin, and sanctify him even before his birth. This first spiritual gift He imparted through Mary; for, no sooner had she greeted her cousin, than John leaped for joy and was then cleansed from original sin. When, many years afterwards, at Cana in Galilee, He bestowed His first grace on man in temporal need, Mary was the mediator. The sanctification of John was the first miracle He wrought before His birth; the changing of water into wine, the first that He publicly wrought when He walked upon earth. Both were done through the intercession of Mary. The object of this was to teach us, as St. Bernard says, "that it is the will of God that we shall receive everything through Mary," that is, through her intercession. Who, therefore, would hesitate to fly to her confidently for refuge in all temporal and spiritual troubles?


Besides the instructions you have already received above, consider the kindness of the divine Mother, not only towards Elizabeth, but also towards the unborn John, and renew your confidence in her compassion and mercy. Further, renew your devotion to her, and let her, the loving and mighty Mother, be your guide in all your spiritual and temporal cares. If you are a sinner, she will obtain for you pardon for your iniquities, through true repentance; but if you belong to the righteous, she is ready to ask of God new grace for you, that you may continue on the path leading to life everlasting. "She opens for every one the bosom of mercy," writes St. Bernard, " that all may receive of her plenty; the prisoner, liberty; the sick, health; the sorrowful, comfort; the sinner, pardon; the righteous, grace." You need only take refuge with her, and invoke her with filial confidence. Today's festival tells you that she, with loving kindness, visited and filled with graces her who had not even invited or asked her to come. What then will she not do for you, if you request and call to her? She has shown herself so kind when she was still upon earth, what will she not do now, being glorified in heaven?" Great was the mercy of Mary when she was still living upon earth," writes St. Bonaventure, "much greater is it now that she reigns in Heaven. She bestows now on mankind countless benefits and greater mercies, because she now recognizes our misery much better." Hence, make the resolution, always to give her due honor, and to invoke her with filial confidence in every distress. "Call on Mary, in every event of your life," says St. Basil, "for, God has ordained that she shall come to our assistance in all our cares and sorrows."

The divine Mother did not visit her cousin Elizabeth through love of idleness, or because she was weary of solitude or work: her end and aim was holy, while she remained, she spoke only of God, the benefits He bestows upon us, and gave due praise to Him. Are the visits you make of a like nature? Examine your conscience carefully, and in future be very solicitous that the cause, end and aim of your visits are not vain or sinful, that you make not a habit of them, or neglect the duties of your station in life by prolonging them without sufficient cause. Be careful what you say or do while they last; for, you may be sure that you may commit great sin and render yourself liable to everlasting punishment, by visits during which you make use of indecent language, or slander your neighbors, or occupy yourself in dangerous games, in which people sometimes seek amusement. And even though nothing were lost but the priceless time, this alone should be enough to prevent you from unnecesary visits. St. Bonaventure says rightly: "No loss is greater than that of time; for, it was given to us by Divine Goodness to work out our salvation, and, once lost, it can never be recalled."
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Discourse V. of the Visitation of Mary
by St. Alphonsus De Liguori

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Mary is the Treasurer of all Divine Graces; therefore, whoever desires Graces must have recourse to Mary; 
and he who has recourse to Mary may be certain of obtaining the Graces he desires.

Fortunate does that family consider itself which is visited by a royal personage, both on account of the honour that redounds from such a visit, and the advantages that may be hoped to accrue from it. But still more fortunate should that soul consider itself which is visited by the Queen of the world, the most holy Virgin Mary, who cannot but fill with riches and graces those blessed souls whom she deigns to visit by her favours. The house of Obededom was blessed when visited by the ark of God: "And the Lord blessed his house." But with how much greater blessings are those persons enriched who receive a loving visit from this living ark of God, for such was the Divine Mother! 'Happy is that house which the Mother of God visits,' says Engelgrave. This was abundantly experienced by the house of Saint John the Baptist; for Mary had scarcely entered it when she heaped graces and heavenly benedictions on the whole family; and for this reason the present feast of the visitation is commonly called that of 'our Blessed Lady of Graces.' Hence we shall see in the present discourse that the Divine Mother is the treasurer of all graces. We shall divide it into two parts. In the first we shall see that whoever desires graces must have recourse to Mary. In the second, that he who has recourse to Mary should be confident of receiving the graces he desires.

First Point

After the Blessed Virgin had heard from the archangel Gabriel that her cousin Saint Elizabeth had been six months pregnant, she was internally enlightened by the Holy Ghost to know that the Incarnate Word, Who had become her Son, was pleased then to manifest to the world the riches of His mercy in the first graces that He desired to impart to all that family. Therefore, without interposing any delay, according to Saint Luke, "Mary, rising up,. . . went into the hill-country with haste (Luc. i. 39)." Rising from the quiet of contemplation to which she was always devoted, and quitting her beloved solitude, she immediately set out for the dwelling of Saint Elizabeth; and because "charity beareth all things (1 Cor. xiii. 7)," and cannot support delay, as Saint Ambrose remarks on this Gospel, 'the Holy Ghost knows not slow undertakings;' without even reflecting on the arduousness of the journey, this tender Virgin, I say, immediately undertook it. On reaching the house, she salutes her cousin: "And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth (Luc. i. 40)." Saint Ambrose here remarks that Mary was 'the first to salute' Elizabeth. The visit of Mary, however, had no resemblance with those of worldlings, which, for the greater part, consist in ceremony and outward demonstrations, devoid of all sincerity; for it brought with it an accumulation of graces. The moment she entered that dwelling, on her first salutation, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and Saint John was cleansed from original sin, and sanctified; and therefore gave that mark of joy by leaping in his mother's womb, wishing thereby to manifest the grace that he had received by the means of the Blessed Virgin, as Saint Elizabeth herself declared: "As soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy (Luc. i. 44)." Thus, as Bernardine de Bustis remarks, in virtue of Mary's salutation Saint John received the grace of the Divine Spirit which sanctified him: 'When the Blessed Virgin saluted Elizabeth, the voice of the salutation, entering her ears, descended to the child, and by its virtue he received the Holy Ghost.'

And now, if all these first-fruits of Redemption passed by Mary as the channel through which grace was communicated to the Baptist, the Holy Ghost to Elizabeth, the gift of prophecy to Zachary and so many other blessings to the whole house, the first graces which to our knowledge the Eternal Word had granted on earth after His Incarnation, it is quite correct to believe that from thenceforward God made Mary the universal channel, as she is called by Saint Bernard, through which all the other graces which our Lord is pleased to dispense to us should pass, as we have already declared in the fifth chapter of the first part of this work.

With reason, then, is this Divine Mother called the treasure, the treasurer, and the dispenser of Divine graces. She is thus called by the venerable Abbot of Celles, 'the Treasure of God, and the Treasurer of graces; by Saint Peter Damian, 'the Treasure of Divine graces;' by Blessed Albert the Great, 'the Treasurer of Jesus Christ;' by Saint Bernardine, 'the Dispenser of graces' by a learned Greek, quoted by Petavius, 'the Storehouse of all good things.' So also by Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus, who observes that 'Mary is said to be thus full of grace, for in her all the treasures of graces were hidden.' Richard of St. Lawrence also says that 'Mary is a treasure, because God has placed all gifts of graces in her as in a treasury; and from thence He bestows great stipends on His soldiers and labourers.' She is a treasury of mercies, whence our Lord enriches His servants.

Saint Bonaventure, speaking of the field in the gospel, in which a treasure is hidden, and which should be purchased at however great a price, "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field, which a man having found hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field (Matt. xiii. 44)," says that 'our Queen Mary is this field, in which Jesus Christ, the treasure of God the Father, is hid,' and with Jesus Christ the source and flowing fountain of all graces. Saint Bernard affirms that our Lord 'has deposited the plenitude of every grace in Mary, that we may thus know that if we possess hope, grace, or anything salutary, that it is from her that it came' Of this we are also assured by Mary herself, saying, "In me is all grace of the way and of the truth;" in me are all the graces of real blessings that you men can desire in life. Yes, sweet Mother and our Hope, we know full well, says Saint Peter Damian, 'that all the treasures of Divine mercies are in thy hands. Before Saint Peter Damian, Saint Ildephonsus asserted the same thing in even stronger terms, when, speaking to the Blessed Virgin, he said, 'O Lady, all the graces that God has decreed for men He has determined to grant through thy hands; and therefore to thee has He committed all the treasures and ornaments of grace; so that, O Mary, concludes Saint Germanus, no grace is dispensed to any one otherwise than through thy hands; 'there is no one saved but by thee; no one who receives a gift of God but through thee." Blessed Albert the Great makes a beautiful paraphrase of the words of the angel addressed to the most Blessed Virgin, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God (Luc. i. 30)." 'Fear not, O Mary, for thou hast found, not taken grace, as Lucifer tried to take it; thou hast not lost it as Adam lost it; thou hast not bought it as Simon Magus would have bought it; but thou hast found it because thou hast desired and sought it.' Thou hast found increated grace; that is, God Himself become thy Son; and with that grace thou hast found and obtained every created good. Saint Peter Chrysologus confirms this thought, saying, 'This great Virgin and Mother found grace to restore thereby salvation to all men.' And elsewhere he says that Mary found a grace so full that it sufficed to save all: 'Thou hast found grace, but how great a grace! It was such that it filled thee; and so great was its plenitude, that it could be poured down as a torrent on every creature' So much so indeed, says Richard of Saint Lawrence, that as God made the sun, that by its means light might be diffused on the whole earth, so as He made Mary, that by her all Divine mercies may be dispensed to the world.' Saint Bernardino adds, that 'from the time that the Virgin Mother conceived the Divine Word in her womb, she obtained a kind of jurisdiction, so to say, over all the temporal manifestations of the Holy Ghost; so that no creature can obtain any grace from God that is not dispensed by this tender and compassionate mother.'

Hence let us conclude this point in the words of Richard of Saint Lawrence, who says, 'that if we wish to obtain any grace, we must have recourse to Mary, the finder of grace, who cannot but obtain all that she asks for her servants; for she has recovered the Divine grace which was lost, and always finds it.' This thought he borrowed from Saint Bernard, who says, 'Let us seek for grace, and seek it by Mary; for that which she seeks she finds, and cannot be frustrated.' If we, then, desire graces, we must go to this treasurer and dispenser of graces; for it is the sovereign will of the Giver of every good thing; and we are assured of it by the same Saint Bernard, that all graces should be dispensed by the hands of Mary: 'for such is His will, Who is pleased that we should have all by Mary.' All, all; and he who says all excludes nothing. But because confidence is necessary to obtain graces, we will now consider how certain we ought to feel of obtaining them when we have recourse to Mary.

Second Point

Why did Jesus Christ deposit all the riches of mercy which He intends for us in the hands of His Mother, unless it was that she might therewith enrich all her clients who love her, who honour her, and who have recourse to her with confidence?" With me are riches . . . that I may enrich them that love me (Prov. viii. 18, 21)." Thus the Blessed Virgin herself assures us that it is so in this passage, which the Holy Church applies to her on so many of her festivals. Therefore for no other purpose than to serve us, says the Abbot Adam, are those riches of eternal life kept by Mary, in whose breast our Lord has deposited the treasure of the miserable, and that the poor being supplied from it may become rich: 'The riches of salvation are in custody of the Blessed Virgin for our use. Christ has made Mary's womb the treasury of the poor; thence the poor are enriched.' And Saint Bernard says, 'that she is a full aqueduct, that others may receive of her plenitude.' Mary was therefore given to the world that her graces might continually descend from heaven upon men.

Hence the same holy father goes on to ask, 'But why did Saint Gabriel, having found the Divine Mother already full of grace, according to his salutation, " Hail, full of grace!" afterwards say, that the Holy Ghost would come upon her to fill her still more with grace? If she was already full of grace, what more could the coming of the Divine Spirit effect? The Saint answers, 'Mary was already full of grace; but the Holy Ghost filled her to overflowing, for our good, that from her superabundance we miserable creatures might be provided.' For this same reason Mary was called the moon of which it is said, 'She is full for herself and others.'

"He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord (Prov. viii. 35)." Blessed is he who finds me by having recourse to me, says our Mother. He will find life, and will find it easily; for as it is easy to find and draw as much water as we please from a great fountain, so it is easy to find graces and eternal salvation by having recourse to Mary. A holy soul once said, 'We have only to seek graces from our Blessed Lady to receive them.' Saint Bernard also says, 'That it was because the Blessed Virgin was not yet born that in ancient times the great abundance of grace which we now see flow on the world was wanting; for Mary, this desirable channel, did not exist.' But now that we have this Mother of mercy, what graces are there that we need fear not to obtain when we cast ourselves at her feet? 'I am the city of refuge' (thus Saint John Damascen makes her speak) 'for all those who have recourse to me.' 'Come, then, to me, my children; for from me you will obtain graces, and these in greater abundance than you can possibly imagine.' It is true that that which the Venerable Sister Mary Villani saw in a celestial vision is experienced by many. This servant of God once saw the Divine Mother as a great fountain, to which many went, and from it they carried off the waters of grace in great abundance. But what then happened? Those who had sound jars preserved the graces they received; but those who brought broken vessels, that is to say, those whose souls were burdened with sin, received graces, but did not long preserve them. It is, however, certain that men, even those who are ungrateful sinners and the most miserable, daily obtain innumerable graces from Mary. Saint Augustine, addressing the Blessed Virgin, says, 'Through thee do the miserable obtain mercy, the ungracious grace, sinners pardon, the weak strength, the worldly heavenly things, mortals life, and pilgrims their country.'

Let us, then, O devout clients of Mary, rouse ourselves to greater and greater confidence each time that we have recourse to her for graces. That we may do so, let us always remember two great prerogatives of this good Mother; her great desire to do us good, and the power she has with her Son to obtain whatever she asks. To be convinced of the desire that Mary has to be of service to all, we need only consider the mystery of the present festival, that is, Mary's visit to Saint Elizabeth. The journey from Nazareth, where the most Blessed Virgin lived, to the city of Judea, in which Saint Elizabeth resided, was one of at least sixty-nine miles, as we learn from Brother Joseph of Jesus Mary, the author of a life of the Blessed Virgin, Bede, and Brocardus; but, notwithstanding the arduousness of the undertaking, the Blessed Virgin, tender and delicate as she then was, and unaccustomed to such fatigue, did not delay her departure. And what was it that impelled her? It was that great charity with which her most tender heart was ever filled that drove her, so to say, to go and at once commence her great office of dispenser of graces. Precisely thus does Saint Ambrose speak of her journey: 'She did not go in incredulity of the prophecy, but glad to do what she had undertaken; it was joy that hastened her steps, in the fulfillment of a religious office the Saint thereby meaning, that she did not undertake the journey to inquire into the truth of what the angel had pronounced to her of the pregnancy of St. Elizabeth, but exulting in the greatness of her desire to be of service to that family, and hastening for the joy she felt in doing good to others, and wholly intent on that work of charity: "Rising, she went with haste." Here, let it he observed, the Evangelist, in speaking of Mary's departure for the house of Elizabeth, says, that she went with haste, but when he speaks of her return, he no longer says anything of haste, but simply that "Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house." What other object, then, asks Saint Bonaventure, could the Mother of God have had in view, when she hastened to visit the house of Saint John the Baptist, if it was not the desire to render service to that family? 'What caused her to hasten in the performance of that act of charity but the charity which burnt in her heart? This charity of Mary towards men certainly did not cease when she went to heaven; nay more, it greatly increased there, for there she better knows our wants, and has still greater compassion for our miseries. Bernardino de Bustis writes, 'that Mary desires more earnestly to do us good and grant us graces than we desire to receive them.' So much so, that Saint Bonaventure says, that she considers herself offended by those who do not ask her for graces: 'Not only those, O Lady, offend thee who outrage thee, but thou art also offended by those who neglect to ask thy favours.' For Mary's desire to enrich all with graces is, so to say, a part of her nature, and she superabundantly enriches her servants, as blessed Raymond Jordano affirms: 'Mary is God's treasure, and the treasurer of His graces: she plentifully endows her servants with choice gifts."

Hence the same author says, that 'he who finds Mary finds every good.' And he adds, that everyone can find her, even the most miserable sinner in the world; for she is so benign that she rejects none who have recourse to her: 'Her benignity is such, that no one need fear to approach her. And her mercy is so great, that no one meets with a repulse.' Thomas a Kempis makes her say: 'I invite all to have recourse to me; I expect all, I desire all, and I never despise any sinner, however unworthy he may be, who comes to seek my aid.' Richard of St. Lawrence says, that whoever goes to ask graces from Mary 'finds her always prepared to help; that is, she is always ready and inclined to help us, and to obtain us every grace of eternal salvation by her powerful prayers.

I say, by her powerful prayers; for another reflection, which should increase our confidence, is, that we know and are certain that she obtains of God all that she asks for her clients. Observe especially, says Saint Bonaventure, in this visit of Mary to Saint Elizabeth, the great power of her words. According to the Evangelist, at the sound of her voice the grace of the Holy Ghost was conferred on Saint Elizabeth, as well as on her son Saint John the Baptist: " And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Ghost (Luc. i. 41)." On this text Saint Bonaventure says, 'See how great is the power of the words of our Lady; for no sooner has she pronounced them, than the Holy Ghost is given.' Theophilus of Alexandria says, that Jesus is greatly pleased when Mary intercedes with Him for us; for all the graces which He is, so to say, forced to grant through her prayers, He considers as granted not so much to us as to herself.' And remark the words, 'forced by the prayers of His Mother.' Yes, for, as Saint Germanus attests, Jesus cannot do otherwise than graciously accede to all that Mary asks; wishing, as it were, in this to obey her as His true Mother. Hence the Saint says, that 'the prayers of this Mother have a certain maternal authority with Jesus Christ; so that she obtains the grace of pardon even for those who have been guilty of grievous crimes, and commend themselves to her;' and then he concludes: 'for it is not possible that thou shouldst not be graciously heard; for God in all things acts towards thee as His true and spotless Mother.' This is fully confirmed, as Saint John Chrysostom observes, by what took place at the marriage-feast of Cana, when Mary asked her Son for wine, which had failed: "They have no wine." Jesus answered "Woman, what is that to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come." But though the time for miracles was not yet come, as Saint Chrysostom and Theophylact explain it; yet, says Saint Chrysostom, 'the Saviour, notwithstanding His answer, and to obey His Mother, worked the miracle she asked for,' and converted the water into wine.

"Let us go, therefore, with confidence to the throne of grace," says the Apostle, exhorting us, "that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid."' The throne of grace is the Blessed Virgin Mary,' says blessed Albert the Great. If, then, we wish for graces, let us go to the Throne of Grace, which is Mary; and let us go with the certain hope of being heard; for we have Mary's intercession, and she obtains from her Son all whatever she asks. 'Let us seek for grace,' I repeat with Saint Bernard, 'and let us seek it through Mary, trusting to what the Blessed Virgin Mother herself said to Saint Matilda, that the Holy Ghost, filling her with all His sweetness, has rendered her so dear to God, that whoever seeks graces through her intercession is certain to obtain them.'

And if we credit that celebrated saying of Saint Anselm,'that salvation is occasionally more easily obtained by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus;' we shall sometimes sooner obtain graces by having recourse to Mary than by having directly recourse to our Saviour Jesus Himself; not that He is not the source and Lord of all graces, but because, when we have recourse to the Mother, and she prays for us, her prayers have greater efficacy than ours, as being those of a mother. Let us then never leave the feet of this treasurer of graces; but ever address her in the words of Saint John Damascen: 'O Blessed Mother of God, open to us the gate of Mercy; for thou art the salvation of the human race.' O Mother of God, open to us the door of thy compassion, by always praying for us; for thy prayers are the salvation of all men. When we have recourse to Mary, it would be advisable to entreat her to ask and obtain us the graces which she knows to be the most expedient for our salvation; this is precisely what the Dominican Brother Reginald did, as it is related in the chronicles of the order. This servant of Mary was ill, and he asked her to obtain him the recovery of his health. His sovereign Lady appeared to him, accompanied by Saint Cecily and Saint Catherine, and said with the greatest sweetness, ' My son, what dost thou desire of me? The religious was confused at so gracious an offer on the part of Mary, and knew not what to answer. Then one of the saints gave him this advice: Reginald, I will tell thee what to do; ask for nothing, but place thyself entirely in her hands, for Mary will know how to grant thee a greater grace than thou canst possibly ask. The sick man followed this advice, and the Divine Mother obtained the reestablishment of his health.

But if we also desire the happiness of receiving the visits of this Queen of Heaven, we should often visit her by going before her image, or praying to her in churches dedicated in her honour. Read the following example, in which you will see with what special favours she rewards the devout visits of her clients.


In the Franciscan chronicles it is related, that two religious of that order, who were going to visit a sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, were overtaken by night in a great forest, where they became so bewildered and troubled, that they knew not what to do. But, advancing a little further, dark as it was, they thought they discovered a house. They went towards it, and felt the wall with their hands; they sought the door, knocked, and immediately heard someone within asking who they were. They replied that they were two poor religious, who had lost their way in the forest, and that they begged at least for shelter, that they might not be devoured by the wolves. In an instant the doors were thrown open, and two pages richly dressed stood before them, and received them with the greatest courtesy. The religious asked them who resided in that place. The pages replied that it was a most compassionate Lady. We should be glad to present her our respects, and thank her for her charity. She also, the pages answered, 'wishes to see you; and we are now going to conduct you into her presence.' They ascended the staircase, and found all the apartments Illuminated, richly furnished, and scented with an odour of Paradise. Finally, they entered the apartment of the Lady, who was majestic and most beautiful in her appearance. She received them with the greatest affability, and then asked them where they were going. They answered, that they were going to visit a certain church of the Blessed Virgin. O, since that is the case,' she replied, 'I will give you before you go a letter, which will be of great service to you.' Whilst the Lady Was addressing them, they felt their hearts inflamed With the love of God, and an internal joy which they had never before experienced. They then retired to sleep, if, indeed, they could do so, overcome as they were by the happiness they experienced; and in the morning they again went to take leave of the Lady and thank her, and also to receive the letter, which she gave them, and they then departed. But when they got a short distance from the house, they perceived that the letter had no direction; they turned about, and sought first on one side, then on the other, but in vain; they could no longer find the house. Finally, they opened the letter to see for whom it was meant, and what it contained; and they found that it was from the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and addressed to themselves. In it she told them that she was the Lady whom they had seen the night before, and that on account of their devotion for her she had provided a lodging and refreshment for them in that wood. She exhorted them to continue to serve and love her, for she always would amply reward their devotion, and would succor them in life and at death. At the foot of the page they read her signature: 'I, Mary the Virgin.' Let each one here imagine the gratitude of these good religious, and how they thanked the Divine Mother, and how greatly they were inflamed with the desire to love and serve her for their whole lives.


Immaculate and Blessed Virgin, since thou art the universal dispenser of all divine graces, thou art the hope of all, and my hope. I will ever thank my Lord for having granted me the grace to know thee, and for having shown me the means by which I may obtain graces and be saved. Thou art this means, O great Mother of God; for I now understand that it is principally through the merits of Jesus Christ, and then through thy intercession, that my soul must be saved. Ah! my Queen, thou didst hasten so greatly to visit, and by that means didst sanctify the dwelling of Saint Elizabeth; deign, then, to visit, and visit quickly, the poor house of my soul. Ah! hasten, then; for thou well knowest, and far better than I do, how poor it is, and with how many maladies it is afflicted; with disordered affections, evil habits, and sins committed, all of which are pestiferous diseases, which would lead it to eternal death. Thou canst enrich it, O Treasurer of God; and thou canst heal all its infirmities. Visit me, then, in life, and visit me especially at the moment of death, for then I shall more than ever require thy aid. I do not indeed expect, neither am I worthy, that thou shouldst visit me on this earth with thy visible presence, as thou hast visited so many of thy servants; but they were not unworthy and ungrateful as I am. I am satisfied to see thee in thy kingdom of heaven, there to be able to love thee more, and thank thee for all that thou hast done for me. At present I am satisfied that thou shouldst visit me with thy mercy; thy prayers are all that I desire.

Pray, then, O Mary, for me, and commend me to thy Son. Thou, far better than I do, knowest my miseries and my wants. What more can I say? Pity me; I am so miserable and ignorant, that I neither know nor can I seek for, the graces that I stand the most in need of. My most sweet Queen and Mother, do thou seek and obtain for me from thy Son those graces which thou knowest to be the most expedient and necessary for my soul. I abandon myself entirely into thy hands, and only beg the Divine Majesty, that by the merits of my Saviour Jesus He will grant me the graces which thou askest Him for me. Ask, ask, then, O most Holy Virgin, that which thou seest best for me; thy prayers are never rejected; they are the prayers of a Mother addressed to a Son, Who loves thee, His Mother; so much, and rejoices in doing all that thou desirest, that He may honour thee more, and at the same time show thee the great love He bears thee. Let us make an agreement, O Lady, that while I live confiding in thee, thou on thy part wilt charge thyself with my salvation. Amen

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"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Burning Charity which Pressed Our Lady to Visit her Cousin

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Luke 1. 41: "When Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost."

1. Whither thus, in holy rapture,
Royal maiden, art thou bent?
Why so fleetly art thou speeding
Up the mountain's rough ascent?

2. Filled with the Eternal Godhead!
Glowing with the Spirit's flame!
Love it is that bears thee onward,
And supports thy tender frame,

3. Lo! thine aged cousin claims thee,
Claims thy sympathy and care;
God her shame from her hath taken,
He hath heard her fervent prayer.

4. Blessed mothers! joyful meeting!
Thou in her, the hand of God,
She in Thee, with lips inspired,
Owns the Mother of her Lord,

5. As the sun his face concealing
In a cloud withdraws from sight,
So in Mary then lay hidden
He who is the world's true light.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Taken from Mary of Agreda's Mystical City of God:

Mystical City of God
Book III - Chapter2

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“And Mary rising up in those days,” says the sacred text, “went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Jude” (Luke 1, 39). This rising up of our heavenly Queen signified not only her exterior preparations and setting out from Nazareth on her journey, but it referred to the movement of her spirit and to the divine impulse and command which directed Her to arise interiorly from the humble retirement, which She had chosen in her humility. She arose as it were from the feet of the Most High, whose will and pleasure She eagerly sought to fulfill, like the lowliest handmaid, who according to the word of David (Ps. 122, 2) keeps her eyes fixed upon the hands of her Mistress, awaiting her commands. Arising at the bidding of the Lord She lovingly hastened to accomplish his most holy will, In procuring without delay the sanctification of the Precursor of the incarnate Word, who was yet held prisoner in the womb of Elisabeth by the bonds of original sin. This was the purpose and object of this journey. Therefore the Princess of heaven arose and proceeded in diligent haste, as mentioned by the Evangelist saint Luke.

Leaving behind then the house of her father and forgetting her people (Ps. 44, 11), the most chaste spouses, Mary and Joseph, pursued their way to the house of Zacharias in mountainous Judea. It was twenty six leagues distant from Nazareth, and the greater part of the way was very rough and broken, unfit for such a delicate and tender Maiden. All the convenience at their disposal for the arduous undertaking was an humble beast, on which She began and pursued her journey. Although it was intended solely for her comfort and service, yet Mary, the most humble and unpretentious of all creatures, many times dismounted and asked her spouse saint Joseph to share with Her this commodity and to lighten the difficulties of the way by making use of the beast. Her discreet spouse never accepted this offer; and in order to yield somewhat to the solicitations of the heavenly Lady, he permitted her now and then to walk with him part of the way, whenever it seemed to him that her delicate strength could sustain the exertion without too great fatigue. But soon he would again ask Her, with great modesty and reverence, to accept of this slight alleviation and the celestial Queen would they obey and again proceed on her way seated in the saddle.

Thus alleviating their fatigue by humble and courteous contentions, the most holy Mary and saint Joseph continued on their journey, making good use of each single moment. They proceeded alone, without accompaniment of any human creatures; but all the thousand angels, which were set to guard the couch of Solomon, the most holy Mary, attended upon them (Cant. 3, 7). Although the angels accompanied them in corporeal form, serving their great Queen and her most holy Son in her womb, they were visible only to Mary. In the company of the angels and of saint Joseph, the Mother of grace journeyed along, filling the fields and the mountains with the sweetest fragrance of her presence and with the divine praises, in which She unceasingly occupied herself. Sometimes She conversed with the angels and, alternately with them, sang divine canticles concerning the different mysteries of the Divinity and the works of Creation and of the Incarnation. Thus ever anew the pure heart of the immaculate Lady was inflamed by the ardors of divine love. In all this her spouse saint Joseph contributed his share by maintaining a discreet silence, and by allowing his beloved Spouse to pursue the flights of her spirit; for, lost in highest contemplation, he was favored with some understanding what was passing within her soul.

At other times the two would converse with each other and speak about the salvation of souls and the mercies of the Lord, of the coming of the Redeemer, of the prophecies given to the ancient Fathers concerning Him, and of other mysteries and sacraments of the Most High. Something happened on the way, which caused great wonder in her holy spouse Joseph: he loved his Spouse most tenderly with a chaste and holy love, such as had been ordained in Him by the special grace and dispensation of the divine love itself (Cant. 2, 4); in addition to this privilege (which was certainly not a small one) the saint was naturally of a most noble and courteous disposition, and his manners were most pleasing and charming; all this produced in him a most discreet and loving solicitude, which was yet increased by the great holiness, which he had seen from the beginning in his Spouse and which was ordained by heaven as the immediate object of all his privileges. Therefore the saint anxiously attended upon most holy Mary and asked her many times, whether She was tired or fatigued, and in what He could serve Her on the journey. But as the Queen of heaven already carried within the virginal chamber the divine fire of the incarnate Word, holy Joseph, without fathoming the real cause, experienced in his soul new reactions, proceeding from the words and conversations of his beloved Spouse. He felt himself so inflamed by divine love and imbued with such exalted knowledge of the mysteries touched upon in their conversations, that he was entirely renewed and spiritualized by this burning interior light. The farther they proceeded and the more they conversed about these heavenly things, so much the stronger these affections grew, and he became aware, that it was the words of his Spouse, which thus filled his heart with love and inflamed his will with divine ardor.

Having pursued their journey four days, the most holy Mary and her spouse arrived at the town of Juda, where Zachary and Elisabeth then lived. This was the special and proper name of the place, where the parents of saint John lived for a while, and therefore the Evangelist saint Luke specifies it, calling it Juda, although the commentators have commonly believed that this was not the name of the town in which Elisabeth and Zacharias lived, but simply the name of the province, which was called Juda or Judea; just as for the same reason the mountains south of Jerusalem were called the mountains of Judea. But it was expressly revealed to me that the town was called Juda and that the Evangelist calls it by its proper name; although the learned expositors have understood by this name of Juda the province, in which that town was situated. This confusion arose from the fact that some years after the death of Christ the town Juda was destroyed, and, as the commentators found no trace of such a town, they inferred that saint Luke meant the province and not a town; thus the great differences of opinion in regard to the place, where most holy Mary visited Elisabeth, are easily explained.

It was at this city of Juda and at the house of Zacharias that most holy Mary and Joseph arrived. In order to announce their visit, saint Joseph hastened ahead of Mary and calling out saluted the inmate the house, saying: “The Lord be with you and fill souls with divine grace.” Elisabeth was already forewarned, for the Lord himself had informed her in a vision that Mary of Nazareth had departed to visit her. She had also in this vision been made aware that the heavenly Lady was most pleasing in the eyes of the Most High; while the mystery of her being the Mother God was not revealed to her until the moment, when they both saluted each other in private. But saint Elisabeth immediately issued forth with a few of her family, in order to welcome most holy Mary, who, as the more humble and younger in years, hastened to salute her cousin, saying: “The Lord be with you, my dearest cousin, and Elisabeth answered : “The same Lord reward you for having come in order to afford me this pleasure.’’ With these words they entered the house of Zacharias and what happened I will relate in the following chapter.

After the first salutation of Elisabeth by the most holy Mary, the two cousins retired, as I have said at the end of the preceding chapter. And immediately the Mother of grace saluted anew her cousin saying: “May God save thee, my dearest cousin, and may his divine light communicate to thee grace and life’’ (Luke 1, 40). At the sound of most holy Mary’s voice, saint Elisabeth was filled by the Holy Ghost and so enlightened interiorly, that in one instant she perceived most exalted mysteries and sacraments. These emotions, and those that at the same time were felt by the child John in the womb of his mother, were caused by the presence of the Word made flesh in the bridal chamber of Mary’s womb, for, making use of the voice of Mary as his instrument, He, as Redeemer, began from that place to use the power given to Him by the eternal Father for the salvation and justification of the souls. And since He now operated as man, though as yet of the diminutive size of one conceived eight days before, He assumed, in admirable humility, the form and posture of one praying and beseeching the Father. He asked in earnest prayer for the justification of his future Precursor and obtained it at the hands of the blessed Trinity.

This happened before the most holy Mary had put her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the words mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of saint Elisabeth, and gave it perfect use of reason, enlightening it with his divine light, in order that he might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessings which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Ghost and with the plenitude of all his gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and subordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what the archangel Gabriel had said to Zacharias; that His son would be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother (Luke 1, 17). At the same time the fortunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber made of the purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elisabeth as coming from the infant in her womb (Luke 1, 44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devotion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exercise it with all the vigor of grace.

Saint Elisabeth was instructed at the same time in the mystery of the Incarnation, the sanctification of her own son and the sacramental purpose of this new wonder. She also became aware of the virginal purity and of the dignity of the most holy Mary. On this occasion, the heavenly Queen, being absorbed in the vision of the Divinity and of the mysteries operated by it through her most holy Son, became entirely godlike, filled with the clear light of the divine gifts which She participated; and thus filled with majesty saint Elisabeth saw Her.

Filled with admiration at what She saw and heard in regard to these divine mysteries, saint Elisabeth was wrapt in the joy of the Holy Ghost; and, looking upon the Queen of the world and what was contained in Her, she burst forth in loud voice of praise, pronouncing the words reported to us, by saint Luke: “Blessed are Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy, and blessed art Thou, that has believed, because those things shall be accomplished, that were spoken to Thee by the Lord.” In these prophetic words saint Elisabeth rehearsed the noble privileges of most holy Mary, perceiving by the divine light what the power of the Lord had done in Her, what He now performed, and what He was to accomplish through Her in time to come. All this also the child John perceived and understood, while listening to the words of his mother; for she was enlightened for the purpose of his sanctification, and since he could not from his place in the womb bless and thank her by word of mouth, She, both for herself and for her son, extolled the most holy Mary as being the instrument of their good fortune.

These words of praise, pronounced by saint Elisabeth were referred by the Mother of wisdom and humility to the Creator; and in the sweetest and softest voice She intoned the Magnificat as recorded by saint Luke (Ch. 1, 46–55)

46. My soul doth magnify the Lord;

47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48. Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me and holy is his name.

50. And his mercy is from generation unto generation to them that fear him.

51. He hath showed might in his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

52. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.

53. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich He hath sent empty away.

54. He hath received Israel, his servant, being mindful of his mercy;

55. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever.”

Just as saint Elisabeth was the first one who heard this sweet canticle from the mouth of most holy Mary, so she was also the first one who understood it and, by means of her infused knowledge, commented upon it. She penetrated some of the great mysteries. which its Authoress expressed therein in so few sentences. The soul of most holy Mary magnified the Lord for the excellence of his infinite Essence; to Him She referred and yielded all glory and praise (I Tim. 1, 17), both for the beginning and the accomplishment of her works. She knew and confessed that in God alone every creature should glory and rejoice, since He alone is their entire happiness and salvation (11 Cor. 10 17). She confessed also the equity and magnificence of the Most high in attending to the humble and in conferencing upon them his abundant spirit of divine love (Ps. 137, 6). She saw how worthy of mortals it is to perceive, understand and ponder the gifts that were conferred on the humility of Her, whom all nations were to call blessed, and how all the humble ones, each according to his degree, could share the same good fortune. By one word also She expressed all the mercies, benefits and blessings, which the Almighty showered upon Her in his holy and wonderful name; for She calls them altogether “great things” since there was nothing small about anything that referred to this great Queen and Lady.

And as the mercies of the Most High overflowed from Mary’s plenitude to the whole human race, and as She was the portal of heaven, through which they issued and continue to issue, and through which we are to enter into the participation of the Divinity; therefore She confessed, that the mercy of the Lord in regard Her is spread out over all the generations, communicating itself to them that fear Him. And just as the infinite mercies raise up the humble and seek out those that fear God; so also the powerful arm of divine justice scatters and destroys those who are proud in the mind of their heart, and hurls them from their thrones in order to set in their place the poor and lowly. This justice of the Lord was exercised in wonderful splendor and glory upon the chief of all the proud, Lucifer and his followers, when the almighty arm of God scattered and hurled them (because they themselves precipitated themselves) from their exalted seats which befitted their angelic natures and their graces, and which they occupied according to the original (Isaias 14; Apoc. 12) decree of the divine love. For by it He intended that all should be blessed (I Tim. 2, 4) while they, in trying to ascend in their vain pride to positions, which they neither could attain nor should aspire to, on the contrary cast themselves from those which they occupied (Isaias 14,13).

When it was time to come forth from their retirement, saint Elisabeth offered herself and her whole family and all her house for the service of the Queen of heaven. She asked Her to accept, as a quiet retreat, the room which she herself was accustomed to use for her prayers, and which was much retired and accommodated to that purpose. The heavenly Princess accepted the chamber with humble thanks, and made use of it for recollecting Herself and sleeping therein, and no one ever entered it, except the two cousins. As for the rest She offered to serve and assist Elisabeth as a handmaid, for She said, that this was the purpose of visiting her and consoling her. O what friendship is so true, so sweet and inseparable, as that which is formed by the great bond of the divine love! How admirable is the Lord in manifesting this great sacrament of the Incarnation to three women before He would make it known to any one else in the human race! For the first was saint Anne, as I have said in its place; the second one was her Daughter and the Mother of the Word, most holy Mary; the third one was saint Elisabeth, and conjointly with Her, her son, for he being yet in the womb of his mother, cannot be considered as distinct from her. Thus “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” as saint Paul says.

The most holy Mary and Elisabeth came forth from their retirement at nightfall, having passed a long time together; and the Queen saw Zacharias standing before her in his muteness, and She asked him for his blessing as from a priest of the Lord, which the saint also gave to Her. Yet, although She tenderly pitied him for his affliction, She did not exert her power to cure him, because She knew the mysterious occasion of his dumbness; yet She offered a prayer for him. Saint Elisabeth, who already knew the good fortune of the most chaste spouse Joseph, although he himself as yet was not aware of it, entertained and served him with great reverence and highest esteem. After staying three days in the house of Zacharias, however, he asked permission of his heavenly Spouse Mary to return to Nazareth and leave Her in the company of saint Elisabeth in order to assist her in her pregnancy. The holy husband left them with the understanding that he was to return in order to accompany the Queen home as soon as they should give him notice; saint Elisabeth offered him some presents to take home with him; but he would take only a small part of them, yielding only to their earnest solicitations, for this man of God was not only a lover of poverty, but was possessed of a magnanimous and noble heart. Therewith he pursued his way back to Nazareth, taking along with him the little beast of burden, which they had brought with them. At home, in the absence of his Spouse, he was served by a neighboring woman and cousin of his, who, also when most holy Mary was at home, was wont to come and go on necessary errands outside of the house.

In conformity with this instruction and new mandate of the Most High, the Princess of heaven ordered all her occupations in the house of her cousin Elisabeth. She rose up at midnight in accordance with her former custom, spending the hours in the continued contemplation of the divine mysteries and giving to waking and sleep the time, which most perfectly and exactly agreed with the natural state and conditions of her body. In labor and repose She continued to receive new favors, illuminations, exaltation and caresses of the Lord. During these three months She had many visions of the Divinity, mostly abstractive in kind. More frequent still were the visions of the most holy humanity of the Word in its hypostatic union; for her virginal womb, in which She bore Him, served Her as her continual altar and sanctuary. She beheld the daily growth of that sacred body. By this experience and by the sacraments, which every day were made manifest to Her in the boundless fields of the divine power and essence, the spirit of this exalted Lady expanded to vast proportions. Many times would She have been consumed and have died by the violence of her affections, if She had not been strengthened by the power of the Lord. To these occupations, which were concealed from all, She added those, which the service and consolation of her cousin Elisabeth demanded, although She did not apply one moment more to them, than charity required. These fulfilled, She turned immediately to her solitude and recollection, where she could pour out the more freely her spirit before the Lord.

Not less solicitous was She to occupy Herself interiorly, while She was engaged for many hours in manual occupations. And in all this the Precursor was so fortunate that the great Queen, with her own hands, sewed and prepared the swaddling clothes and coverlets in which he was to be wrapped and reared; for his mother Elisabeth, in her maternal solicitude and attention, had secured for saint John this good fortune humbly asking this favor of the heavenly Queen. Mary with incredible love and subjection complied with her request in order to exercise Herself in obedience to her cousin, whom She wished to serve as the lowest handmaid; for in humility and obedience most holy Mary always surpassed all men. Although saint Elisabeth sought to anticipate Her in much that belonged to her service, yet, in her rare prudence and wisdom, Mary knew flow to forestall her cousin, always gaining the triumph of humility.

In this way most holy Mary put into practice the doctrine of the eternal Word who humiliated himself so far, that, being the form of the eternal Father, the figure of his substance, true God of the true God, He nevertheless assumed the form and condition of a servant (Heb. 1, 3, Philip 2, 6, 7). This Lady was the Mother of God, Queen of all creation, superior in excellence and dignity to all creatures, and yet She remained the humble servant of the least of them; and never would She accept homage and service as if due to Her, nor did She ever exalt Herself, or fail to judge of Herself in the most humble manner. What shall we now say of our most execrable presumption and pride? Since, full of the abomination of sin, we are so senseless as to claim for ourselves with dreadful insanity the homage and veneration of all the world? And if this is denied us, we quickly lose the little sense which our passions have left us. This whole heavenly history bears the stamp of humility, and is a condemnation of our pride. And since it is not my office to teach or correct, but to be taught and to be corrected, I beseech and pray all the faithful children of light to place this example before their eyes for our humiliation.

It would not have been difficult for the Lord to preserve his most holy Mother from such extreme lowliness and from the occasions in which She embraced it He could have exalted Her before creatures, ordaining that She be renowned, honored and respected by all; just as He knew how to procure homage and renown for others as Assuerus did for Mardocheus. Perhaps, if this had been left to the judgment of men, they would have so managed that a Woman more holy than all the hierarchies of heaven, and who bore in her womb the Creator of the angels and of the heavens, should be surrounded by a continual guard of honor, withdrawn from the gaze of men and receiving the homage of all the world; it would have seemed to them unworthy of Her to engage in humble and servile occupations, or not to have all things done only at her command, or to refuse homage, or not to exercise fullest authority. So narrow is human wisdom, if that can be called wisdom, which is so limited. But such fallacy cannot creep into the true science of the saints, which is communicated to them by the infinite wisdom of the Creator, and which esteems at their just weight and price these honors without confounding the values of the creatures. The Most High would have denied his beloved Mother much and benefited Her little, if He had deprived and withdrawn from Her the occasion of exercising the profoundest humility and had instead exposed Her to the exterior applause of men. It would also be a great loss to the world to be without this school of humility and this example for the humiliation and confusion of its pride.

The hour for the rising of the morning star, which was to precede the clear Sun of justice and announce the wished–for day of the law of grace, had arrived (John 5, 35). The time was suitable to the Most High for the appearance of his Prophet in the world; and greater than a prophet was John, who pointing out with his finger the Lamb (John 1, 29), was to prepare mankind for the salvation and sanctification of the world. Before issuing from the maternal womb the Lord revealed to the blessed child the hour in which he was to commence his mortal career among men. The child had the perfect use of his reason, and of the divine science infused by the presence of the incarnate Word. He therefore knew that he was to arrive at the port of a cursed and dangerous land, and to walk upon a world full of evils and snares, where many are overtaken by ruin and perdition.

At the request of his mother the Queen received in her arms the newborn child and offered him as a new oblation to the eternal Father, and his Majesty, well pleased, accepted it as the first–fruits of the Incarnation and of the divine decrees. The most blessed child, full of the Holy Ghost, acknowledged his sovereign Queen, showing Her not only interior, but outward reverence by a secret inclination of his head, and again he adored the divine Word, which was manifested to him in her womb by an especial light. And as he also was aware, that he was privileged before all men, the grateful child performed acts of fervent thanksgiving, humility, love and reverence of God and of his Virgin Mother. The heavenly Queen, in offering him to the eternal Father, pronounced this prayer for him: “Highest Lord and Father, all holy and powerful, accept in thy honor this offering and seasonable fruit of thy most holy Son and my Lord. He is sanctified by the Onlybegotten and rescued from the effects of sin and from the power of thy ancient enemies. Receive this morning’s sacrifice, and infuse into this child the blessings of thy holy Spirit, in order that he may be a faithful minister to Thee and to thy Onlybegotten.” This prayer of our Queen was efficacious in all respects, and She perceived how the Lord enriched this child, chosen as his Precursor; and She also felt within Herself the effects of these admirable blessings.

Then they bespoke the arrangements for the circumcision of the child, for the time appointed by the law was approaching. Complying with the custom observed among the Jews, especially among the more distinguished, many relatives and other acquaintances of the house of Zacharias began to gather, in order to resolve upon the name to be given to the child; for, in addition to the ordinary preparations and consultations concerning the name to be given to a son, the high position of Zacharias and Elisabeth and the news of the miraculous fecundity of the mother naturally suggested the existence of some great mystery to the minds of all their relations. Zacharias was still dumb, and therefore it was necessary that saint Elisabeth should preside at this meeting. Over and above the high esteem which she inspired, she now exhibited such evident signs of the exalted renewal and sanctification of her soul, which resulted from the knowledge of the mysteries and from her interactions with the Queen of heaven, that all her relatives and friends noticed the change. For even in her countenance she exhibited a kind of effulgence which made her mysteriously attractive and was the reflection of the Divinity, in whose presence she lived.

The relatives then appealed by signs to Zacharias, who, being unable to speak, asked for a pen and declared his will by writing upon the tablet: “Johannes est nomen ejus.” ‘‘John is his name.’’ At the same time most holy Mary, making use of her power over all nature, commanded the dumbness to leave him, his tongue to be loosened, as the moment had arrived when it should bless the Lord. At this heavenly command he found himself freed from his affliction, and, to the astonishment and fear of all present, he began to speak as narrated by the Evangelist. What I say here is not adverse to the Gospel narrative; for, although it is there related, that the angel foretold Zacharias that he should remain mute until his message should be fulfilled, yet God, when He reveals any decree of his will, absolutely unfailing as they are, does not always reveal the means or the manner of their fulfillment, foreseen by Him in his infinite foreknowledge. Thus the archangel announced to Zacharias the punishment of his unbelief, but he did not tell him that he should he freed from it by the intercession of most holy Mary, although this also had been foreseen and decreed.

Therefore, just as the voice of our Lady Mary was the instrument for the sanctification of the child John and his mother, so her secret mandate and her intercession had the effect of loosening the tongue of Zacharias, filling him with the holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy. Hence he broke forth in the words (Luke 1, 68–79):

1. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people:

69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant:

70. And he hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning;

71. Salvation from our enemies, and from the hands of all that hate us:

72. To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament,

73. The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us,

74. That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear,

75. In holiness and justice before him, all our days.

76. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:

77. To give knowledge of salvation to his people: unto the remission of their sins:

78. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us

79. To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.

In the divine canticle of the Benedictus Zacharias embodied all of the highest mysteries, which the ancient prophets had foretold in a more profuse manner concerning the Divinity, Humanity and the Redemption of Christ, and in these few words he embraces many great sacraments. He also understood them by the grace and light, which filled his spirit, and which raised him up in the sight of all that had come to attend the circumcision of his son; for all of them were witnesses to the solving of his tongue and to his divine prophecies. I will hardly be able to give an explanation of the deep meaning of these prophecies, such as they had in the mind of that holy priest.

At the call of Elisabeth, the most fortunate of husbands, saint Joseph, had come in order to attend most holy Mary on her return to her home in Nazareth. On arriving at the house of Zacharias he had been welcomed with indescribable reverence and devotion by saint Elisabeth and Zacharias; for now also the holy priest knew that he was the guardian of the sacramental treasures of heaven, though this was yet unknown to the great patriarch saint Joseph himself. His heavenly Spouse received him in modest and discreet jubilation. and, kneeling before him, She, as usual, besought his blessing, and also his pardon, for having failed to serve him for nearly three months during her attendance upon her cousin Elisabeth. Though She had been guilty of no fault, nor even of an imperfection in thus devotedly fulfilling the will of God in conformity with the wishes of her spouse, yet, by this courteous and endearing act of humility, She wanted to repay her husband for the want of her consoling companionship. The holy Joseph answered that as he now again saw Her, and again enjoyed her delightful presence, he was relieved of the pain caused by her absence. In the course of a few days they announced the day of their departure. Thereupon the princess Mary took leave of the priest Zacharias. As he had already been enlightened by the Lord concerning the dignity of the Virgin Mother, he addressed Her with the greatest reverence as the living sanctuary of the Divinity and humanity of the eternal Word. “My Mistress,” he said, “praise and bless eternally thy Maker, who in his infinite mercy has chosen Thee among all his creatures as his Mother, as the sole Keeper of all his great blessings and sacraments. Be mindful of me, thy servant, before thy Lord and God, that He may lead me in peace through this exile to the security of the eternal peace which we hope for, and that through thee I may merit the vision of his Divinity, which is the glory of the saints. Remember also, O Lady, my house and family, and especially my Son John, and pray to the Most High for thy people.”

The whole household of Zacharias had been sanctified by the presence of most holy Mary and of the incarnate Word in her womb; all its inmates had been edified by her example, instructed by her conversations and teachings, and sweetly affected by her intercourse and modest behavior. While She had drawn toward Herself all the hearts of that happy family, She also merited and obtained for them from her most holy Son the plenitude of celestial gifts. Holy Joseph was held in high veneration by Zacharias, Elisabeth and John; for they had come to know his high dignity before he himself was yet aware of it, The blessed Patriarch, happy in his Treasure, the full value of which as yet he did not know, took leave of all and departed for Nazareth: what happened on the way I will narrate in the following chapter. But before they began their journey most holy Mary, on bended knees, besought saint Joseph to bless Her, as She was accustomed to do on such occasions, and after She had received his blessing, they betook themselves on their journey.

The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

For two reasons, my daughter, the divine effects wrought through me by my Son in saint John and Elisabeth were concealed, while those in Zacharias were manifest. First, because Elisabeth spoke out clearly in praise of the incarnate Word and of me; yet at the time it was not proper that either this mystery or my dignity should be openly known; the coming of the Messias was to be manifested by other more appropriate means. Secondly, not all hearts were so well prepared as that of Elisabeth for receiving such precious and unprecedented seed of divine knowledge, nor would they have welcomed such sacramental revelation with due reverence. On the other hand it was more becoming that Zacharias in his priestly dignity should proclaim what was then to be made known; for the beginnings of the heavenly light would be accepted more readily from him than from saint Elisabeth, especially while he was present. That which she said, was reserved to bring forth its effects in due time. Although the words of God have their own inherent force; yet the more sweet and acceptable manner of communicating with the ignorant and the unskilled in divine mysteries is by means of the priest.

Likewise it was proper that the dignity and honor of the priesthood should receive its due; for the Most High holds the priests in such esteem, that if He finds them in the right disposition, He exalts them and fills them with his Spirit in order that the world may venerate them as his chosen and anointed ones. Moreover the wonders of the Lord run less risk in priests. even when they are more openly revealed to them, If they live up to their dignity, their works in comparison with those of the other creatures, are like those of the angels and of the seraphim. Their countenance should be resplendent, like that of Moses, when he came forth from converse with the Lord (Exod. 34, 29). At least they should deal with the rest of men in such a manner that they be honored and revered as next to God. I desire that thou understand, my dearest, that the Most High is greatly incensed against the world in this matter: as well against the priests as against laymen. Against the priests because, forgetting their exalted dignity, they debase themselves by a contemptible, degraded and scandalous life, giving bad example to the world by mixing up with it to the neglect of their sanctification. And against the laymen, because they act with a foolhardy presumption toward the anointed of the Lord, whom, though imperfect and blameless in their lives, they ought to honor and revere as taking the place of Christ, my most holy Son, on earth.

On account of this reverence due to the priesthood my behavior toward saint Zacharias was different from that toward Elisabeth. For, although the Lord wished, that I should be the instrument, by which the gifts of the holy Spirit should be communicated to both; yet I saluted Elisabeth in such a manner, that I at the same time showed a certain authority, exerting my power over the original sin of her son; for at my words this sin was forgiven him, and both mother and son were filled with the Holy Ghost. As I had not contracted original sin and was exempt from it, I possessed dominion over it on this occasion: I commanded as the Mistress, who had triumphed over it by the help of the Lord (Gen. 3, 5), and who was no slave of it, as all the sons of Adam, who sinned in him (Rom. 5, 12). Therefore the Lord desires that, in order to free John from the slavery and chains of sin, I should command over it as one who never was subject to its bondage. I did not salute Zacharias in this authoritative way, but I prayed for him, observing the reverence and decorum due to his dignity and my modesty. I would not have commanded the tongue of the priest to be loosened, not even mentally and secretly, if the Most High had not enjoined it upon me, intimating at the same time, that the defect of speech hardly suited his office, for a priest should stand ready to serve and praise the Almighty with all his powers. In regard to the respect due to priests I will tell thee more on another occasion; let this suffice at present for the solution of thy doubt.

But from my instruction today learn especially to seek direction in the way of virtue and of eternal life in all thy interactions with men, be they above or below thee in dignity. Imitate therein me and my cousin Elisabeth, with due discretion asking all to direct thee and guide thee; for in return for such humility the Lord will provide thee with secure counsel and divine light for exercising thy discreet and sincere love of virtue. Drive away, or do not allow thyself to be influenced by even the least breath of flattery and avoid the conversations which expose thee to it; for such deceitful pleasure darkens the light and perverts the unsuspecting mind. The Lord is so jealous of the souls especially beloved by Him, that He will immediately turn away from them if they find pleasure in the praises of men and seek to recompense themselves by their flatteries; since by this levity they become unworthy of his favors. It is not possible to unite in a soul the adulations of the world and the caresses of the Most High. For these latter are sincere, holy, pure, and lasting: they humiliate, cleanse, pacify and illumine the heart; while on the other hand the flatteries of creatures are vain, fleeting, deceitful, impure and false, issuing from the mouths of those who are all liars (Ps. 115, 11); and whatever is deceitful is a work of the enemy.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
This article is included to outline the hatchet job of the "liturgical reformers" in moving the Feast of the Visitation after Vatican II but it's style is a little flippant, which is regrettable [emphasis mine]:

Revisiting the Date of the Visitation

NLM | Friday, June 28, 2024

The authors of the 1970 General Calendar suppressed a number of devotional feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary “so that the people could give greater honor on those feasts of the Lord in which Mary has a particularly important role.” [1] The Visitation was one of the feasts that was spared, but it was also part of a shuffling of Marian holy days. The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was moved from August 22 to the day after the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Queenship of Mary was moved from May 31 to August 22, and the Visitation was moved from July 2 to May 31.

The official reason for transferring the Visitation was to “achieve better accord with the Gospel narrative” (quo aptius consentiat narrationi evangelicae) by placing the feast somewhere between the Annunciation (March 24) and the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24). [2]

At first blush, the decision is perfectly understandable. In the Byzantine Rite, July 2 commemorates the Deposition of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos at the church of St. Mary of Blachernae in Constantinople in A.D. 479. For the Gospel reading, Luke’s account of the Visitation would be used. The Franciscans picked up this custom in 1263 and renamed it the Visitation of Mary. In 1389, Pope Urban VI placed the feast on the universal calendar in order to beseech the Blessed Virgin to end the Great Schism. July 2, then, seems unrelated to the Gospel chronology.

But appearances can be deceiving. The liturgical reformers implicitly depict the Visitation as an episode that lasted from March 24 to June 24, a depiction at odds with both the Gospel that they claim to be tracking as well as the realities of childbirth.

Regarding the former, if John the Baptist was born on June 24, he would have been circumcised and named on July 1, in accordance with the Law. Saint Luke relays that the circumcision was the occasion of a family gathering—in other words, a party. Since the Blessed Virgin Mary’s only motive in visiting Elizabeth was to help her, it is highly unlikely that she would have left before the big circumcision party, leaving an aged, postpartum Elizabeth and her literally dumb husband Zechariah to fend for themselves. No, Mary’s generous heart would have anchored her to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth until she was no longer needed, and the earliest possible date for that would have been July 2, the day after John’s circumcision--and the day after the dishes had been washed. [...]

[Image: DP214411.jpg]

Scenes from the Life of St. John the Baptist, by Francesco Granacci, ca. 1506-7

A third consideration is that Mary was most likely an eyewitness of the events of July 1 because according to tradition, she was a key resource for St. Luke, who is the only evangelist to record the Annunciation and Visitation.

The July 2 date thus enables the faithful to remember not only the joyful beginning of the Visitation but its entire arc, that three-month period when the Mother of God aided her cousin, witnessed the miracle of Zechariah’s recovery of his voice (on July 1), and returned home, pondering these things in her heart. (Lk. 2, 19)

May 31, on the other hand, has no real connection to the timeline of the Visitation. The liturgical reformers assert that it better accords with the Gospel because it occurs between March 24 and June 24, but so do 90 other days. The most likely reason that May 31 was chosen out of a total of 91 options is that the reformers had created a void on May 31 by transferring the Queenship of Mary from May 31 to August 22, and it may have struck them as odd to end Mary’s month of May without a Marian feast. Understandable, but those are prudential responses to the liturgical game of musical chairs that they themselves initiated; the Gospel narrative has nothing to do with it.

If one truly wanted the most Scripturally accurate date--and if one, for whatever reason, did not want the date of Mary’s departure from the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth--one would try to assign the feast to the date when Mary first arrived at their home and saluted Elizabeth. (Luke 1, 40) Mary lived in Nazareth and Elizabeth in Ein Karem, a village about five miles west of Jerusalem. As the crow flies, the distance between the two is approximately 64 miles, but because Jews, then as now, avoided the direct route through Samaria, Mary would have had to travel about 100 miles to reach her cousin. Mary “went with haste” to Ein Karem as soon as she learned that Elizabeth was with child (Luke 1, 39), but that does not mean that she set out immediately and by herself. The mountainous regions of Judea were notoriously rife with highway robbers, and it would therefore have been irresponsible of Mary, a fifteen-years-old girl and new Ark of the Covenant, to journey alone. It is more reasonable to conjecture that Mary joined a caravan, possibly accompanied by her betrothed, Saint Joseph. Supporting this conjecture is Luke’s wording: “And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste…” (Lk. 1, 39, emphasis added) It may very well have taken Mary several days to find an available caravan.

[Image: ChurchOfTheVisitationFeb142022_01.jpg]

Church of the Visitation, Ein Karem, Israel

Another variable is how fast the caravan moved. A Roman legion could march twenty miles a day, a donkey could typically cover twelve to fifteen miles a day, and Ezra averaged fourteen miles a day when he traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 7, 9). Because a caravan would presumably consist of young and old, fit and not-fit, a conservative estimate of twelve miles a day (maybe even less) seems the most reasonable, especially since the latter half of the journey involved a steep ascent into mountains.

On the other hand, because Jews could not travel far outside a walled city on the Sabbath, the caravan probably took shelter for at least one day during the journey.

The best-case scenario, then, is that Joseph and Mary found a caravan leaving that very day, although, as I have just argued, I highly doubt that they did. If the Annunciation occurred on March 25, if the young couple left Nazareth with a caravan the same day, if the caravan averaged twelves miles a day but stopped one day for the Sabbath, and if the journey between Nazareth and Ein Karem was 100 miles, then the very earliest date on which the voice of the Lord’s mother could enter Elizabeth’s ears would be April 1--although a later date, such as around mid-April, is in my opinion far more likely. Either way, May 31 is not even a remote contender.
And thus we are left with the question: which of the two dates, July 2 or May 31, “better accords with the gospel narrative”?

[1] Roman Calendar (United States Catholic Conference, 1976), 29
[2] Roman Calendar, 83; Calendarium Romanum (Vatican, 1969), 93, 128.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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