It is not certain exactly when or where Our Lady was born; but it was most likely about sixteen years before the birth of Jesus, and in Nazareth, where St Luke’s Gospel locates her, as she received God’s message from the angel. It was only after the Council of Ephesus in 431 – when Mary was designated as “Theotokos” (“Mother of God”) – that devotion to her spread far and wide in the Western Church. But well before that time, the exceptional circumstances of her birth were remembered and celebrated among the Christians of Palestine.
An ancient Christian text, the “Protevangelium of James” suggests that Mary was born near Jerusalem, since her parents, Joachim and Anne, brought her to the temple at a very early age. Today would be a good time to read that Protevangelium (pre-Gospel) story, to share its warm, devotional reflection upon the special grace attending Mary’s birth. The author, probably a Jewish Christian in the second century, tells of her parents eagerly longing for a child; and when eventually God granted her to them, they wished to dedicate her, body and soul, to the service of God in the temple.
She, who was to bring our Saviour into the world, would provide a loving tabernacle of flesh for the living God – for in her womb, by the power of the Spirit, the incarnate Son of God was conceived and borne As his greatness would reach to the ends of the earth, so (says the Protevangelium) the grace of God was visible in his mother, from the beginning.
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
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