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“The Madonna in Prayer” by Sassoferato (via Wikimedia Commons)

On September 8, we celebrate the nativity of the Virgin Mary, our mother. Unlike many other feasts on the liturgical calendar, Mary’s birthday is not recorded in history. The date on which we remember her was chosen by the Church in the sixth century, because the Eastern Church begins its year in September.

Franciscan Media offers a good explanation drawn from apocryphal literature:

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child that will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.

And remember, the tiny baby Mary was not like other newborns, because she alone among all mankind was born without the imprint of original sin.

Here in America in the 21st century, we typically celebrate birthdays with a cake and candles. Indeed, we can do that! In fact, it’s a great way for parents to impart the faith to their young children: a raucous birthday party for the Queen of Heaven!

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I have a favorite way to honor her, though:  A rendition of her prayer, the Hail Mary, by Poncho the Parrot.

Happy Birthday, Mary!