Mary
Part 2 History

Chapter m20 Mary: Historical Overview

For an explanation of the divisions of the History Grid, see Chapter d21 Overview of the History of Liturgy

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

1. Apostolic [0-399]

2. Patristic [400-799] 

3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

4. Medieval [1200-1299]

5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

6. Reformation [1500-1699]

7. After Trent [1700-1899]

8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

9. Vatican II [1960-1975]

10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

What do you know about the history of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? 

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Bibliography

A.G. Martimort (Editor). The Liturgy and Time, Volume IV of The Church at Prayer. New Edition. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8146-1366-7.

Adrian Nocent. The Liturgical Year. The Liturgical Press. $35.00. ISBN: 0-8146-0963-5. See individual dates of the Marian celebrations.

Adam. Chapter VIII: The Saints' Feasts in the Liturgical Year. 199-271.

BCL. Study Text 9. Chapter V: Celebrating Mary and the Saints. 65-78.

Elizabeth A. Johnson.  Truly Our Sister:  A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints.  The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. 2003.  ISBN 0-8264-1473-7

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For an explanation of the divisions of the History Grid, see Chapter d21 Overview of the History of Liturgy

1. Apostolic [0-399] 

c40 Our Lady of the Pillar   Legend  that Mary appeared to the Apostle James in Saragossa, Spain and gave him a small wooded statue of herself and a column of jasper wood and instructed him to build a church in her honor.

 

c270 Sub Tuum Procedium  -- earliest known Marian prayer.  Rediscovered in 1917 on apapyrus in Egypt.

325 Council of Nicea, discusses the identity of Jesus Christ.

352  Legend  that Mary appeared to John of Rome and asked him to  have a church built on one of Rome's seven hills.  On August 5th, John and Pope Liberius went to the Esquiline hill which they found covered with snow in a contour matching the outline of a church. Construction on a church conforming to the outline left by the snow was started immediately.  [Today, this church has become the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Our Lady of the Snows), one of the largest churches on earth.] 

January 6 Epiphany  The solemnity of Epiphany originated in the East, at Alexandria, and was celebrated at Rome from the middle of the fourth century.  (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 92)

 

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2. Patristic [400-799]

431 Council of Ephesus names Mary "mother of God" [instead of simply "mother of Christ"]

c432  August 5 The Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary   The Church of St. Mary Major was dedicated on August 5, as the Martyrology of Jerome mentions, during the pontificate of Sixtus III (432-440).  A legend [see the year 352 above] associated with its founding gave rise in the fourteenth century to the title of the feast as "Dedication of our Lady of the Snows."  In 1568 this feast was assigned to the Roman calendar.

February 2 Presentation of the Lord   The feast of the Presentation of the Lord in temple, celebrated in Jerusalem as early as the fifth century, was adopted at Rome in the seventh century under the name Hypapante (that is, the meeting between Jesus and Simeon).  From the tenth century the Western liturgical books listed this feast as the Purification of Mary.  The name of this feast is changed to the Presentation of the Lord so that it may be more clearly understood as a feast of the Lord.  (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 93)

August 15 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Solemnity) Assumption -- As early as the fifth century a commemoration of the Mother of God was celebrated on August 15. During the next century the solemnity of the Dormition of Mary spread throughout the East. About the middle of the seventh century Rome adopted it under the same title and by the eighth century it was known as the Assumption of Mary. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 104)

September 14: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast).   -- Triumph of the Holy Cross -- As early as the fifth century, the wood of the Holy Cross was exposed for veneration by the people of Jerusalem on the day after the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection (September 13, 335). This custom gave rise to a feast on this day, which was a major celebration in all the Eastern rites. In the seventh century it was adopted in Rome. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 106)

September 8 The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Feast)  -- Birth of Mary -- In Jerusalem, from the end of the fifth century, the feast of the church of Mary's birthplace on September 8 enjoyed the same rank as the Assumption. In the seventh century, the Roman and the Byzantine liturgies celebrated this day as the Birth of Mary. The Syrian rite celebrated it on the same day while the Coptic liturgy observes it on the seventh. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 106)

543  November 21 The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial) -- Presentation of Mary -- This feast had its origin in the dedication in 543 of the Basilica of St. Mary, near the temple of Jerusalem. Although the church has been destroyed by age, the feast of the presentation is celebrated throughout the East. It was adopted by the papal chapel at Avignon in 1373. It was suppressed by Pius V in 1568, but reintroduced into the Roman calendar in 1585. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 111)

March 25 Annunciation  The Solemnity of the Annunciation is of Eastern origin. As the Liber Pontificalis indicates, it was adopted at Rome in the seventh century under the title "Annunciation of the Lord."  The Eastern rites and the Ambrosian rite have always considered it a solemnity of the Lord. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p xx)

January 1 The Octave Day of the Nativity -- Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God  "From most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been venerated under the title 'God-bearer'"  (Const. Lumen Gentium, no. 66).  All of the Churches recall her memory under this title in their daily Eucharistic prayers, and especially in the annual celebration of Christmas.  In the Roman Office for January 1, which some eighth century manuscripts call the "Birthday of St. Mary," many prayers, antiphons and responsories are found which honor the divine Motherhood of Mary.

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3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

829 ff  Pilgrimages to Compostella    [Note:  One way in which churches in ancient times authenticated their message was by their "apostolic succession" -- tracing their origin back to the apostles or an apostle e.g. Rome (Peter and Paul); India (Thomas), Constantinople (James, the brother of the Lord), etc.]   Spain tells how the apostle James (the Greater) was sent to Spain, and he traveled as far as Saragossa (in what is today, northeastern Spain).  There James became discouraged and Mary appeared to encourage him and gave him a small wooded statue of herself and a column of jasper wood and instructed him to build a church in her honor. This is said to be the first church built in Mary's honor.  James returned to Jerusalem and was martyred by Herod Agrippa (44 CE).  His disciples took his body back to Spain for burial.  In 829 a church was built over his grave -- Santiago de Compostella -- and became a major pilgrimage site.  [Near the friary where I lived during my student days in Paris was Rue San Jacques, "St. James Street" -- one of the oldest and straightest streets (going straight South!) in Paris -- the ancient path of pilgrims from the Canterbury Tales, south to San Jacques de Compostella.] -- The cathedral boasts of the largest censer in the world (needed to mask the stench of the pilgrims).  [See You Tube - Botafumerio a Santiago de Compostela ]

1090 - 1153  Bernard of Clairvaux   --   Hans Kung writes that the veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus, which first developed in the Hellenistic Byzantine sphere, took hold in the West in the second half of the first millennium.  It reached a climax in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, above all under the influence of the Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux.  The emphasis was on an idealization -- the cosmic role of Mary as virgin mother and queen of heaven.  It is easy to understand why, given the abstract realms into which Christology had now been developed.  The lovable human figure of Mary the woman, as in the form of the Madonna with the cloak, was extremely popular, in particular as the helper of the little people--the oppressed and the marginalized.  The New Testament Ave Maria was now, along with the Our Father, the most widespread form of prayer in the Middle Ages, soon [1500] supplemented with the words "now and at the hour of our death".  (see:  The Catholic Church: A Short History, p 108)

Origins of "Hail Mary" as popular prayer  (First "half" of current prayer)  The Catholic Encyclopedia concludes that "there is little or no trace of the Hail Mary as an accepted devotional formula before about 1050.

Rosary (with Our Father) becomes the "Psalter" (150 psalms / 150 Our Fathers) of the illiterate (non clerics)

[Pater's and Ave's  become common "timing devices" for recipes etc. before clocks become widespread, (e.g. "Knead the dough for ten ave's".]

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4. Medieval [1200-1299]

1208  Mary appeared in Prouille, France to Domingo de Guzman, a Spanish preacher, (who founded the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans), and gave him the Rosary and told him to preach the Rosary as a remedy against the Albegesian heresy.  

1251 Our Lady of Mount Carmel -  Mary appeared to Simon Stock in Aylesford, England (1251) and gave him the brown scapular.

1263  Franciscans celebrate the feast of The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 2 each year.   

Mendicants promote the rosary (especially Dominicans).  Rosary becomes a lay version of the Liturgy of the Hours.   Note:  St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure, etc know only what we would call the "first half" of the "Hail Mary." 

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5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

1376  July 16 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel   -- The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was begun by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 and was included in the Roman calendar in 1726.

1382  The Black Madonna - Czestochowa, Poland (1382)  Legend:  St. Luke used a tabletop from a table built by the carpenter Jesus for this painting and it was while Luke was painting Mary that she told him about the events in the life of Jesus that Luke eventually incorporated in his gospel.

1389 May 31 The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Feast)   The feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was instituted by Urban VI in the year 1389 to end the Western schism. It was placed on the Roman calendar July 2, the same day the Franciscans celebrated the feast since 1263. Now it is transferred to the last day of May (May 31) placing it between the feasts of Annunciation and the birth of St. John the Baptist, a date which is "in accord" with the gospel narrative. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p xx)

1471 Sixtus IV (OFM) becomes pope.  Pope Sixtus IV (July 21, 1414 to August 12, 1484), born Francesco della Rovere.  He ordered the construction of a chapel (later named after him - the Sistine Chapel) where the team of artists he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance to Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age (Michelangelo's frescoes were added in a later phase).  In 1476 Sixtus IV instituted the Feast of the Conception of Mary (December 8).   From 1476 the feast appears in the Roman Calendar.

1476  December 8 The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Solemnity)  -- Immaculate Conception -- The feast of the conception of Mary appeared in the Roman calendar in 1476. After the dogmatic definition of 1854 it was made the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 112)

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6. Reformation [1500-1699]

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen", was gradually added to the "Hail Mary". The petition first appeared in print in 1495 in Girolamo Savonarola's "Esposizione sopra l'Ave Maria".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hail_Mary

1531  Our Lady of GuadalupeMary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, in Guadalupe, Mexico in 1531and told him to go to Tenochtitlan and ask the bishop to build a church on the site.

1571  October 7 The Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary (Memorial)   This feast was instituted in 1573 in gratitude for the victory of the Christian (Spanish, Venetian, and Papal) naval forces at Lepanto where they defeated the (Turkish) Muslim fleet of Ali Monizindade Pashathe on October 7, 1571.

1667  September 15 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Sorrows (Memorial) -- Our Lady of Sorrows -- In 1667 an indult was given to the Servite Order to celebrate this feast, and in 1814 it was introduced into the Roman calendar for the third Sunday in September.

1684  September 12 Name of Mary -- This feast was included in the Roman calendar in 1684 to celebrate the victory over the Turks at Vienna in 1683. Since it duplicates the feast of the Birth of Mary, it is now suppressed. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 136)

1696  September 24 Variations: Our Lady of Ransom -- Since this memorial, which entered the Roman calendar in 1696, reflects the special devotion of the Order founded by St. Peter Nolasco for ransoming captives, it is now left to particular calendars. (Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars, p 138)

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7. After Trent [1700-1899]

1726  July 16 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel   -- The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was begun by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 and was included in the Roman calendar in 1726.

1727 The commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Mary appeared in the Roman calendar in 1727.

1798  Our Lady of La'Vang.   Mary appeared in La'Vang, Vietnam  in 1798 at the beginning of the persecution of Vietnamese Catholics.

1830 Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Paris, France (1830)  Mary appeared to Catherine Laboure.

1854  Dogmatic Definition of the Immaculate Conception.  The Feast of the Conception of Mary (which appeared in the Roman Calendar in 1476) now becomes The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

1858 February 11 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes   Mary is venerated at Lourdes, France, where between February 11 and July 16, 1858  Mary appeared eighteen times to the humble Bernadette Soubirous.   In 1907 the memorial of these apparitions was entered in the Roman calendar.

1879 Our Lady of Knock    Along with St. Joseph and St. John, Mary appeared to Mary O'Beirne and Mary McLoughlin in Knock, Ireland in 1879.

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8. Before Vatican II [1900-1961]

1907 February 11 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes   Mary is venerated at Lourdes, France, where between February 11 and July 16, 1858 she appeared eighteen times to the humble Bernadette Soubirous.   In 1907 the memorial of these apparitions was entered in the Roman calendar.

1944 The feast of the Immaculate Heart was instituted in 1944 by Pius XII and assigned to August 22.

1950  Dogmatic Definition of the Assumption of Mary by Pope Pius XII on 1 November 1950 in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

1955  August 22 (15 + 7) The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial)  Feast of the Queenship of Mary was established by Pius XII in 1955 and celebrated on May 31.

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9. Vatican II [1962-1965]

1964  November 21   Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII:  "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church."  [TRR Commentary  Note that some of the Council members wanted a separate document on Mary.  It is significant that the majority voted to treat Mary within the context of Church.  This places Mary within the Church, among those saved by Christ.]

1969 March 21  Sacred Congregation of Rites, Roman Calendar  reorganizes the feasts of Mary during the Liturgical Year

1963, December -- Vatican Council II. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 103. -- 103. In celebrating this annual cycle of Christ's mysteries, the church honors with special love Mary, the Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church holds up and admires the most excellent effect of the redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a flawless image, that which the Church itself desires and hopes wholly to be.

1964, November 21 -- Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, Chapter VIII "De Beata Maria Virgine Deipara In Mysterio Christ et Ecclesiae". "The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church", especially 66-67 "The Cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church."

1964, November 21 -- Vatican Council II. Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, 15.

1965, June 31 -- Consilium. Letter "Le renouveau liturgique" on furthering liturgical reform, 8.

1965, October 21 -- Vatican Council II. Decree on Priestly Formation Optatam totius, 8.

1965, December 7, -- Vatican Council II. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests Presbyterorum Ordinis, 18.

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10. After Vatican II [1965-2050]

1966, February 17 -- Paul VI. Poenitemini. Apostolic Letter on Conversion.

1966, September 15 -- Paul VI. Encyclical Chrsiti Matri on the rosary.

1967, June 13 -- Paul VI. Apostolic Exhortation Signum magnum on Mary, Mother on the Church.

1969, February 14 -- Paul VI. Motu Proprio Mysterii paschalis, approving the norms for the liturgical year and the General Calendar.

1969, March 12 -- SC Rites (Consilium), General Norms for the Liturgical year and the Calendar.

8  Celebrations in honor of Mary
15  Marian office on Saturday in Ordinary Time
35f  Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, January 1
59, 3 & 7 Table of Liturgical Days

1969, April 6 -- SC Rites (Consilium), General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

234a     Bowing the head at name of Mary
278   Images of Mary in churches
316c   Memorials of Mary
329c   Votive Masses in honor of Mary

1969, October 7 -- Paul VI, apostolic Exhortation Recurrens mensis octobris, on the rosary.

1974 February 2   Pope Paul VI,  Marialis Cultus, Apostolic Exhortation for the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Text available in English at  http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6marial.htm  [DOL 3896-3945].  For a summary of this very important document see Chapter m64 Marian Devotions

2004 February 06   Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ." The document will be submitted to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and to the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury together with the Anglican Consultative Council. The commission hopes that the sponsoring bodies will be able to move toward the publication of the document in due course.

Bishop's Committee in the Liturgy. Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars. The Liturgy Documentary Series Number 6. Washington DC: Office of publishing and Promotion Services, USCC, 1884. USCC publication number 928. $6.95 paper.

Code of Canon Law. Book IV, Part III, Title II: Sacred Times (cc 1244-1253). CLSA Commentary, pp 853-855.

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To Think About

 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 02/20/12.   Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org