Today's Saint

Nativity of the Mother of God

The Feast of September 8 originated in Jerusalem. In the 7th century, in the Byzantine Rite and at Rome, the Birth of the Blessed Virgin was celebrated this day. Mary is believed to have been born approximately 20 B.C. Her Immaculate Conception — when she was conceived without sin in the womb of her mother Anna — is celebrated nine months earlier, on December 8.

“In the liturgy the Church salutes Mary of Nazareth as the Church’s own beginning, for in the event of the Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected, and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter. And above all, in the Incarnation she encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly joined: he who is the Church’s Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church’s condition as spouse and mother” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater , 1).

“In fact, even though it is not possible to establish an exact chronological point for identifying the date of Mary’s birth, the Church has constantly been aware that Mary appeared on the horizon of salvation history before Christ. It is a fact that when ‘the fullness of time’ was definitively drawing near — the saving advent of Emmanuel — she who was from eternity destined to be His mother already existed on earth. The fact that she ‘preceded’ the coming of Christ is reflected every year in the liturgy of Advent. Therefore, if to that ancient historical expectation of the Savior we compare these years which brought us to the beginning of the third Millennium after Christ, it becomes fully comprehensible that in this present period we wish to turn in a special way to her, the one who in the ‘night’ of the Advent expectation began to shine like a true ‘Morning Star’ (Stella Matutina ). For just as this star, together with the ‘dawn,’ precedes the rising of the sun, so Mary from the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming of the Savior, the rising of the ‘Sun of Justice’ in the history of the human race” (Redemptoris Mater , 3).

The Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception upholds that from the first instant of her creation, the soul of the Virgin Mary was free from original sin; this doctrine is not the same as that of the Virgin Birth, which is when Jesus Christ was born of a virgin mother. The Roman Catholic Church has consistently favored belief in the Immaculate Conception; a festival of that name was celebrated in the Eastern church as early as the 5th century and in the Western church from the 7th century. In 1854, Pope Pius IX issued a solemn decree declaring the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma essential to the belief of the universal Church. Under the title Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary is invoked as the patron of the United States, Brazil, Portugal, and Corsica.

There are three different traditions as to the place of the birth of the Blessed Virgin. First, the event has been placed in Bethlehem. A second tradition placed the birth of our Blessed Lady in Sephoris, about three miles north of Bethlehem. The third tradition, the most probable one, is that Mary was born in Jerusalem. It rests upon the testimony of St. Sophronius, St. John Damascene, and upon evidence of recent finds in the Probatica. The Feast of Our Lady’s Nativity was not celebrated in Rome till toward the end of the seventh century; but two sermons found among the writings of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 680) imply that it was introduced at an earlier date into some other churches. In 799 the 10th canon of the Synod of Salzburg prescribes four feasts in honor of the Mother of God: the Purification, February 2; the Annunciation, March 25; the Assumption, August 15; the Nativity, September 8.

From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day

Graceful living

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dipped in the instincts of heaven,
Robed in the garments of earth,
Maiden and Mother and Queen,
Wearing each crown at thy birth:
Threefold thy gift to the world,
Pluck’d from God’s ripening sky,
Tending the altar of life,
Kindred to angels on high.

— “Woman,” Thomas O’Hagan

Tending the altar of life . . .” In addition to bringing Jesus into the world, how else does Sacred Scripture show Mary as “mother”? I will do likewise in three ways today as a special birthday present to her.

Other Saints We Remember Today

  • St. Adrian (304), Martyr
  • St. Corbinian (Corbin) (725), Bishop