Why do Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary’s birthday on September 8?

By: Francis B. Ongkingco September 07,2018 - 10:10 PM

Today, many may no longer realize its connection with December 8 — nine months before September— when we celebrate the solemnity of Her Immaculate Conception.

Historically, however, Mary’s birthday was already being celebrated by the Church even before the dogma of Her Immaculate Conception was declared in 1854 by Pope Pius IX.

Her birthday was already a longstanding tradition in the Byzantine Church.

It was only in the 7th century that it found its way to the western church and incorporated into the Church’s liturgical calendar.

The Byzantine Church celebrates September 8 as the beginning of their liturgical year.

The Catholic Church, however, places Mary’s Divine Maternity at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Both are meant to underline Her motherly solicitude over all Her children.

Normally, the Church celebrates the dies natalis or “birth into heaven” to remember the saint’s death or martyrdom.

There are only two exceptions where the saint’s birthdays are celebrated: our Lady and St. John the Baptist.

This is because their birthdays are so intimately associated with Jesus’ birth. St. John the Baptist, was born to announce the coming of our Lord, while our Lady was born to bear God in Her womb and give birth to Him.

If John the Baptizer was born to market the Good News, Mary was born to deliver the Good News!

Both were born as instruments of salvation for mankind, but only one was going to deliver the Savior to us.

This is the reason why Mary’s birthday holds a very important role for Her sons and daughters in the Church.

Her birthday was not only the beginning of Her life, but it also bore the new hope in the birth of the One who will give men their rebirth by becoming God’s children.

Although it is not contained in Scriptures, tradition holds that Mary’s parents — saints Joachim and Anne — were not fertile.

God, however, gifted them with Mary, who would become the Ark of the New Covenant.

Likewise, St. John the Baptist’s parents — Zachary and Elizabeth — seemed to share the same lot as Mary’s parents.

In their persevering prayer, however, they had a son.

John would be the last of the Prophets and would finally point to Christ as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies.

The similarities between Mary and St. John’s births, I believe, are not a coincidence.

The fact that they are miraculously born of “infertile” parents seems to underline many wonderful truths about the value and purpose of life.

First, God is the author of life. He is the beginning and the end of all life.

We must therefore respect the natural origin, development and end of human life.

We must learn to trust and abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

Always for good reasons, He may allow some couples to be fertile and others to be infertile.

Second, every person who is born into this world has a very unique mission and is a blessing for humanity.

Although it is not given to everyone to have a special mission like our Lady or St. John, we each have something unique to offer before God.

We shouldn’t wait till we retire; we can start here and now, already offering ourselves to God and others in small but constant details of love and service.

Finally, because of the examples of our Lady and St. John, we are reminded that life is worth living and are spurred to live it fruitfully.

May Mary’s maternal presence in our life fill us with the joy and optimism, treasure our life-time of grace so that one day we may return it to God as a gift that has multiplied in its fruits.

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