Feasts of Mary

It is known that Mary occupies an important place within the Catholic Church. Her veneration and importance are reflected in various liturgical celebrations. The month of May in particular is liturgically dedicated to Mary. The month of October is dedicated to the Rosary, the most powerful prayer in Mary worship. Below are a few of the celebrations in honor of Mary.

January 1: Mary Mother of God

Through the Christmas story it is known that Mary, as an unmarried woman, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, Mother of God is the name of the feast celebrated on January 1, the last day of the eight-day celebration of Christmas. Naturally, special attention is paid to Mary, who was so closely involved in the incarnation of God’s Son. In many churches this feast has now been renamed the Feast of the Holy Family.

February 2: Candlemas

On this day, forty days after Christmas (the birth of Jesus), the Church celebrates the feast that Joseph and Mary brought the Child Jesus to Jerusalem to consecrate him to God. In the Netherlands, this festival is also called Candlemas. The feast of Candlemas is celebrated in memory of the purification offering that Mary offered in the temple, forty days after the birth of Jesus. The festival dates back to the Jewish custom in which women, according to the instructions of Moses, to purify themselves 40 days after the birth of a child, sacrificed a lamb or two pigeons in the temple. The name of this holiday has now officially been replaced by ‘The Lord’s assignment in the temple’, but popularly it remains simply Candlemas.

March 25: Annunciation of Mary

Nine months before we commemorate the birth of the Lord, we celebrate the feast of the message that Mary received from the Angel Gabriel. He announced to her that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of His Son.
The name of this holiday was revised during the Second Vatican Council. In the title of this feast, the name of Mary has been replaced by the name of the Lord, thus restoring the original name. The celebration is now called “Annunciation of the Lord” again. This small change in the title makes it clear to us that March 25 is first and foremost a feast of the Lord.

May 31: Mary Visitation or Mary Mediatrix

On this day we commemorate the visit of Mary (who was already pregnant) to her niece Elisabet, who was also pregnant. Three months before Jesus is born, Eilsabet gives birth to a son, John the Baptist. Mary is remembered as Mediatrix by her radiance to Elisabet and the child she is expecting.
The Visitation of Mary used to be celebrated on July 2, but because this day fell after the feast day of John the Baptist’s birthday (June 24), it was moved to May 31 in 1969. However, in some places the festival is still celebrated on July 2.

August 15 Assumption of Mary

In everyday language, the Assumption of Mary is also called the Assumption of Mary. It is not the case that Mary ,ascended into heaven, by her own power, but that God took her up, body and soul, into heaven to sit next to her son Jesus Christ. She, the woman, who is clothed with the sun, that is, with God’s presence, who bore Jesus and was faithful to God, lives in the eternal kingdom. There she prays for people who are still on their way. The Assumption of Mary, a festival that has been celebrated for centuries, but was only officially declared in 1950, is therefore about life and not death.

August 22, Mary Queen

In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the feast of Mary the Queen, to be celebrated on May 31. Nowadays it is celebrated a week after the Assumption of Mary. According to the Mysteries of the Rosary, the coronation of Mary in heaven follows the feast of August 15. So a more logical place is on August 22. At the end of the Litany of Loreto, Mary is repeatedly invoked as queen:

  • Queen of the angels
  • Queen of peace

and recently also by Pope John Paul II with the title:

  • Queen of the family


September 8: Mary’s birth

Infertility is a tragic blessing in Jewish tradition. This also happened to Anna, the later mother of Mary, who was married to the priest Joachim. Both have David as an ancestor. She complained: I have become a curse in the sight of Israel. They have mocked me and taunted me from the temple. Less than a day later, an angel comes to tell her that she will have a child after all. In her excitement, Anna vowed to give her child to the church so that he could serve God all his life. The child born on September 8 is Mary, the future mother of Jesus.

December 8: Mary conceived immaculate

When talking about ‘Mary conceived immaculately’, no reference is made to Mary’s pregnancy. This feast is celebrated on December 8, nine months before Mary is born (September 8).
This festival commemorates the fact that Mary has been prepared from birth for the task God intended for her, namely the motherhood of Jesus. Jesus as a Divine child must be born of a woman who is not burdened with ‘original sin’. She must be holy and spotless, and before her birth God removed the curse imposed on humanity through Adam and Eve.
The recognition of Mary immaculately conceived by the Church was proclaimed through dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854: The Blessed Virgin Mary was born at the first moment of her conception by a special gift and privilege of Almighty God in view of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Savior of the human race, freed from every stain of original sin.

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