Birth of the Virgin Mary Celebrated at Saint Anne’s | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Birth of the Virgin Mary Celebrated at Saint Anne’s

As is customary, the Franciscans of the Holy Land celebrated the Nativity of the Virgin Mary at the place where she is believed, according to an ancient tradition, to have been born to Joachim and Anna.

The Mass, attended by the new Consul General of France, His Excellency Mr. Frédéric Desagneaux, was particularly solemn. There is a whole protocol in place for French consular masses: it specifies that the Consul should bless the Gospel with a kiss and then be venerated before the faithful and the priests at the beginning of the celebration of the Eucharist.

However, as was stressed by Father Stéphane Milovtich, who presided over the celebration, "Liturgy is above all a celebration of the Christian faith" - a Christian faith with very strong ties to the Jewish tradition. It includes a reading of the Gospel passage describing the genealogy of Joseph, "the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Christ (or the Messiah)."

The celebrant also said, "Even the Gospel of Luke, which attributes a great deal of importance to Mary in its descriptions of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the birth of Jesus, does not provide any information about her place of birth. There is an explanation for the fact that the Gospels are silent about the Virgin’s place of birth: the first generation of Christians wanted first and foremost to record their memories of Jesus - the deeds, actions, and words of the Messiah, the Son of God. Since the life of Jesus has such unparalleled importance, His mother is only mentioned in passing in the Gospels, none of which was intended to be a Gospel of Mary. The Marian Cult and Dogma remained in an embryonic phase during the first four centuries; furthermore, during the fourth century, the Credo, the symbol of Nice, only briefly mentioned Mary in its presentation of the Christian creed: et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est ("He became flesh through the Virgin Mary, and became man").

But over the centuries, the Christian faith saw the emergence of an impressive Marian Cult, which the joyous and reverential celebration of the special day was part of.

At the end of the celebration, the faithful met in the gardens of the White Fathers to have refreshments and catch each other up on the latest news since the start of the new academic year.