The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The month of May ends with a fitting tribute on the Church calendar. The last day of May is the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the second mystery of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

One can only imagine how Mary must have felt 2,000 years ago. First, she was told that she was chosen to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah of her Jewish people. That was a lot to take in. Secondly, the Angel Gabriel spoke of her elderly cousin, Elizabeth’s pregnancy. She who was thought to be sterile had conceived and was in her sixth month, “because nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1: 37)

We can imagine that she must have told her mother and father, Saints Anne and Joachim about her divine pregnancy and that of Elizabeth’s. She plans to visit her, most likely with her parents’ approval. How did her parents take the news? Or was hearing of their relative’s pregnancy reassurance them that their daughter, too, had an important role to play in the history of the Jewish people?

Did she tell Joseph, her betrothed, also, and sadly hear that he intended “to divorce her quietly?”(Matthew 2: 19) Or perhaps the Angel appeared to him at that time in a dream and told him that Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he should take her as his wife.

Or did she wait until she returned home from “traveling to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah” (Luke 1: 39) Elizabeth’s home, to tell Joseph? We can only conjecture.

However, one thing is certain. Mary sensed that Elizabeth needed her to help with her care and that of her household during her miraculous pregnancy, and Mary quickly went to help her relatives, Elizabeth and Zechariah.

How did she get there? Most likely, she did not travel alone because that would have been dangerous for a young woman. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph traveled in a caravan from Jerusalem at the Passover feast when Jesus was lost. A caravan was probably the way that she arrived at her cousin’s home, too. Her parents must have made the arrangements for it.

The Gospel of Luke says that she stayed there for about three months when Elizabeth was six months pregnant. So, she remained throughout her pregnancy and most likely helped nurse her elderly cousin during the childbirth of John. One can also picture our Blessed Mother cooking and cleaning while taking care of Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, as well.

And her act of charity is forever immortalized in the “Hail Mary.” As Mary greets her cousin, Elizabeth says, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

If believing Catholics and other Christians ever needed a New Testament Scriptural reference to when life begins against the practice of abortion, this is it.

Elizabeth also said, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke: 1: 42)

Mary probably witnessed how Zechariah’s ability to talk was miraculously restored upon writing on a tablet to their friends and relatives that his son’s name would be John. The Angel Gabriel had also appeared to him to tell him that he and his wife would bear a son and should name him John. The child would be “great in the sight of the Lord.” (Luke 1: 15) Because he questioned the Angel Gabriel, he was speechless until the event occurred.

Then it was time for Mary to return home to Nazareth, to await, with joyful anticipation, the miraculous birth of Jesus to take place later in Bethlehem, with Joseph at her side.

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