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The Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint Mary

~ Ave Maria ~

The Mother, of God, Mother of Jesus, wife of St. Joseph, and the greatest of all Christian saints. The Virgin Mother “was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men”. Mary is venerated with a special cult, called by St. Thomas Aquinas, hyperdulia, as the highest of God’s creatures. The principal events of her life are celebrated as liturgical feasts of the universal Church. Mary’s life and role in the history of salvation is prefigured in the Old Testament, while the events of her life are recorded in the New Testament. Traditionally, she was declared the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Born in Jerusalem, Mary was presented in the Temple and took a vow of virginity. Living in Nazareth, Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. She became betrothed to St. Joseph and went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was bearing St. John the Baptist. Acknowledged by Elizabeth as the Mother of God, Mary intoned the Magnificat.

When Emperor Augustus declared a census throughout the vast Roman Empire, Mary and St. Joseph went to Bethlehem, his city of lineage, as he belonged to the House of David. There Mary gave birth to Jesus and was visited by the Three Kings. Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, where St. Simeon rejoiced and Mary received word of sorrows to come later. Warned to flee, St. Joseph and Mary went to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. They remained in Egypt until King Herod died and then returned to Nazareth. Nothing is known of Mary’s life during the next years except for a visit to the Temple of Jerusalem, at which time Mary and Joseph sought the young Jesus, who was in the Temple with the learned elders. The first recorded miracle of Jesus was performed at a wedding in Cana, and Mary was instrumental in calling Christ’s attention to the need. Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there she was given into John’s care. She was also with the disciples in the days before the Pentecost, and it is believed that she was present at the resurrection and Ascension.

No scriptural reference concerns Mary’s last years on earth. According to tradition, she went to Ephesus, where she experienced her “dormition.” Another tradition states that she remained in Jerusalem. The belief that Mary’s body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII declared this belief Catholic dogma in 1950. The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception - that Mary, as the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was free of original sin at the moment of her conception was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8. The birthday of Mary is an old feast in the Church, celebrated on September 8 since the seventh century. Other feasts that commemorate events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary are listed in the Appendices. Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire human race to Mary in 1944.

The Church has long taught that Mary is truly the Mother of God. St. Paul observed that “God sent His Son, born of a woman," expressing the union of the human and the divine in Christ. As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine, Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature. This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly depicted in the Gospel in which she is seen constantly at her son’s side during his stereological mission. Because of this role exemplified by her acceptance of Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her urging him to perform his first miracle, and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary Mary was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself. Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: “To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man’s salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ”. Mary is entitled to the title of Queen because, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in a 1946 radio speech, “Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election.” Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity, thereby giving her a claim to the title of Queenship. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the means of incarnating into the world for the purposes of the redemption of humanity. This Queen is also our Mother. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she is called a spiritual mother, for she conceives, gives birth, and nurtures the spiritual lives of grace for each person. As Mediatrix of All Graces, she is ever present at the side of each person, giving nourishment and hope, from the moment of spiritual birth at Baptism to the moment of death.

The confidence that each person should have in Mary was expressed by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum: “The foundation of all our confidence. . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.”

Quick Facts
Profile ~ Mother of Jesus. Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Betrothed of Saint Joseph
Born ~ Unknown, perhaps 20BC; celebrated on 8 September
Died ~ Unknown; assumed into heaven, date unknown but celebrated on 15 August
Name Meaning ~ myrhh

Prayers to the Blessed Virgin
The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

Salve Regina

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. Hail my life, my sweetness and my hope!
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve!
To you do we send up our sighs; mourning and weeping in this vale of tears!
Turn, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy toward me, and after this,
our exile, show to us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus Christ!
Clement, loving, sweet Virgin Mary!

Concecration to Mary
My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you;
and to show my devotion to you,
I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart,
my whole being without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother, as I am your own, keep me,
guard me, as your property and possession.

The Rosary

The Rosary

1. Beginning with the Rosary's Cross: Begin as with all prayers In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (making the sign of the Cross while doing that)

2. On the single bead just above the cross, pray the Apostles Creed. This and all prayers of the rosary are meditative prayers

3. The next cluster of beads are 3 bead, the "Hail Mary" prayer is said on these three beads. You pray the 3 Hail Marys while meditating on the three divine virtues of faith, hope, and love/charity.

4. On the next bead, which is a single bead, you announce the first divine mystery of contemplation. For example, if it were a Monday, you would say the first Joyful Mystery is "The Annunciation", at this point you pray the "Our Father" prayer.

5. Now this will bring you to the first decade, or set of 10 beads of the Rosary. You will then pray 10 Hail Marys while contemplating the first mystery, example: The Annunciation.

6. After the 10th Hail Mary you will have completed the first of 5 decades which make up a Chaplet of the Rosary. You now come to another single bead, at this point, you pray the... Glory be to the Father... then (on the same bead) pray the O My Jesus... then (on the same bead) announce the next or second mystery. For example: if its Monday and your praying the Joyful Mysteries, the second Joyful Mystery is The Visitation. At this point you pray the Our Father....

7. You will now come to the second decade or group of 10 beads, you will now pray the 10 Hail Marys while contemplating the appropriate mystery.

8. You continue to pray the rosary the same way throughout. If your intention is to pray a Chaplet (a single set of mysteries) at the end of the fifth mystery you will come back to the joiner, this is where the decades all join with the lower part of the rosary which contains the cross. When you come to the joiner, you decide whether or not you wish to say another Chaplet or end. If you decide to say another Chaplet you simply announce the next mystery and continue. If you wish to end, you simply say the Glory Be To The Father, the O My Jesus, The Our Father and end the rosary with the Hail Holy Queen and the sign of the Cross........

Various Rosary Prayers in approximate order as prayed in the Rosary

THE APOSTLE'S CREED: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

THE OUR FATHER: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

THE DOXOLOGY: Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. (this prayer is optional and may be said after all Glory Be to the Fathers.....)
O my Jesus, have mercy on us. Forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Take all souls into heaven, especially, those most in need of thy mercy. Amen.

THE HAIL MARY: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

THE SALVE REGINA (Hail Holy Queen): Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

V: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

MEMORARE: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To You we come; before You we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer us. Amen.

Mysteries of the Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries
The first Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
The second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
The third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
The fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
The fifth Joyful Mystery: Jesus is Lost and Found in the Temple
(If you say only five decades a day, it is customary to say the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday.)

The Luminous Mysteries
The first Luminous Mystery: The Baptism of Jesus
The second Luminous Mystery: The Miracle at Cana
The third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom
The fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration
The fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist
(If you say only five decades a day, it is customary to say the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.)

The Sorrowful Mysteries
The first Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
The second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
The third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
The fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross to Calvary
The fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
(If you say only five decades a day, it is customary to say the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday.)

The Glorious Mysteries
The first Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection of our Lord
The second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension into Heaven
The third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit
The fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven
The fifth Glorious Mystery: The Crowning of Our Lady in Heaven
(If you say only five decades a day, it is customary to say the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday and Sunday.)

The Fifteen Promises of Mary to Christians Who Recite the Rosary

1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the rosary.
3. The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the heart of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommend itself to me by the recitation of the rosary, shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the rosary.
10. The faithful children of the rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the rosary.
12. All those who propagate the holy rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the rosary are my son, and brothers of my only son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Novenas to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Its name deriving from the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is nine days' private or public devotion in the Catholic Church to obtain special graces. Though they are not part of our liturgy and remain a "popular devotion" (a very few are prayed Para liturgically), they've been prayed since the very beginning of the Church -- and before its official beginning: Mary and the Apostles prayed from His Ascension to the Pentecost, a period of nine days (Acts 1). Also, a nine-day period of supplication was a pagan Roman and Eastern practice, so novenas were easily accepted by the earliest converts in these lands.

Novenas, then, often, but not necessarily, have about them a sense of "urgency"; they are typically made for special intentions, one's own or another's ("I'll make a novena for you"). Novenas to certain Saints are often made according to that Saint's patronage; for ex., because of his New Testament letter encouraging Christians to persevere in the face of persecution, St. Jude is the patron of desperate situations and "hopeless" causes, so a person who finds himself or a loved one in a real tough bind might make a novena to St. Jude (by the way, it is traditional, after making a novena to St. Jude, to make a public expression of your gratitude. This is the reason for those mysterious thank you notes to St. Jude that you might see in your local newspaper's Classifieds section).

There are four main types of novenas (a novena may fit into more than one category):

  • Novenas of mourning, such as the novena made during the novemdiales -- the nine day period following the death of a Pope
  • Novenas of preparation, or "anticipation," such as the Christmas or Easter Novenas
  • Novenas of prayer
  • The indulgenced novenas

In some novenas, the same prayer is said each day for nine days, or sometimes 9 times in one day; others may have (or add) different prayers for each of the 9 prayer sessions. Some "novenas" aren't properly called "novenas" because the number nine plays no role in any way, but still retain the label. When a Novena is prayed in anticipation of a Feast, it is typically begun such that it ends the day before the Feast (i.e., to know when to start a Novena in anticipation of a Feast, count 10 days back from the Feast, with the Feast itself counting as "one.")

Be aware that some uneducated persons think about Novenas in a superstitious manner. Any Novena instructions that include words such as, "say this prayer for 9 consecutive days and your wish will be granted to you," or that describe the Novena as "never fail" in some sense that would lead one to believe that we have God at our beck and call rather than our being His humble servants -- well, while the prayers themselves might (or might not) be OK, such instructions should be absolutely rejected.

There are many novenas to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here is just one:

O Most Holy Virgin!
who were chosen by the adorable Trinity from all eternity
to be the Most Pure Mother of Jesus,
permit me, thy humble and devoted client,
to remind thee of the joy thou didst receive
in the instant of the most sacred Incarnation of our Divine Lord,
and during the nine months thou didst carry Him in thy chaste womb.

O tender Mother of the afflicted!
grant me, under my present necessities,
that peculiar protection thou hast promised
to those who devoutly commemorate this ineffable joy.
Relying on the infinite mercies of thy Divine Son,
trusting in that promise which He has made,
that those who ask should receive;
and penetrated with confidence in thy powerful prayers;
I most humbly entreat thee to intercede for me;
and to obtain for me the favours which I petition for in this Novena,
if it be the holy Will of God to grant them;
and if not, to ask for me whatever graces I need most.

(Here specify your requests.)

I desire by this Novena,
which I now offer in thy honour,
to prove the lively confidence I have in thine intercession.
Accept it, I beseech Thee,
in honour of that supernatural love and joy
with which thy sacred heart was replenished
during the abode of thy dear Son in Thy womb;
in veneration of which I offer thee the sentiments of my heart,
and these nine Hail Marys.

Repeat the Hail Mary... nine times, and then say the following Prayer.

O Mother of God,
accept these salutations,
in union with the respect and veneration
with which the Angel Gabriel first hailed thee full of grace.
May they become so many gems in the crown of thy glory,
which will increase in brightness to the end of the world.
I beseech Thee,
O Comfortress of the afflicted!
by the joy thou didst receive in the nine months of thy pregnancy,
to obtain for me the granting of the favours
which I have now implored through thy powerful intercession.
For this end,
I offer Thee all the good works
which have ever been performed in thy honour.
I most humbly entreat thee,
for the love of the amiable Heart of Jesus,
with which thine was ever so inflamed,
to hear my humble prayers,
and to obtain my requests.

Additional Resources on the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Marian Library at the University of Dayton holds the world’s largest collection of printed materials on the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can access their web site here: The Mary Page

The Mariological Society of America

The Society of Mary ~ The Marianists