Our Lady’s Birthday: the holy and the homely

The Church celebrates just three nativities: that of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. All three births are interconnected; each one has a special role in the history of salvation. The birth of Christ takes centre stage while those of his mother and cousin appear from the wings in a supporting role. The focus is always on Christ, as the liturgies for the respective feastdays make clear.

St Bernard has a lovely phrase to describe Mary and her role in salvation: he calls her the aqueduct that brings us the Water of Life. The humility and glory of God’s mother are both revealed in that phrase, and the astonishing trust God places in us as human beings . . .

In England this feast day often sees the first autumn crocus, once popularly known as ‘naked lady’ in honour of Our Lady. If you find one in your garden, why not say a prayer? Just as Mary unites in herself the holy and the homely, so that delicate purple flower reminds us of the presence of God here and now in the everyday circumstances of our lives.