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Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on its traditional fixed date of September 8, nine months after the December 8 celebration of her Immaculate Conception to Saints Joachim and Anne.

The circumstances of the Virgin Mary's infancy and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible, but other documents and traditions describing the circumstances of her birth are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church.

The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father, Joachim, as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anne, by their childlessness.  Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves extensively and rigorously to prayer and fasting.

As it turned out, the couple was to be blessed even more abundantly than Abraham and Sarah.  They conceived the child Mary.

After Mary's birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, Anne “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl's room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.”

The protoevangelium goes on to describe how later on, Mary's parents and Temple leaders decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life.  Later, she would enter a chaste marriage with Joseph who was a carpenter.

St. Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic significance; an appropriate prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley.”

St. Augustine, a 4th century bishop, whose theology profoundly shaped the Western Church's understanding of sin and human nature, affirmed that “through her birth, the nature inherited from our first parents is changed," (no Original Sin).

Source:  Catholic News Agency.  CNA.