Marian Feast Added to Church Calendar

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
6 Mar 2018

Pope Francis with an icon of Mary in the Basilica of St Mary Major
(Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the liturgical calendar. Source: Vatican News.

The liturgical feast will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

In a decree released by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, its prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah said the Pope's decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.

He said the Pope wishes to promote this devotion in order to "encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety".

The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church's liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.

It says St Augustine and Pope St Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary's importance in the mystery of Christ.
"In fact the former [St Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church."

In 1964, the decree states, Pope Paul VI "declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as 'Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother' and established that 'the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles".

In 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive (optional) Mass in honour of this devotion. The present decree inserts the celebration into the universal Church's liturgy as a Memorial on a fixed date.