The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that God would soon give a son to Elizabeth. The Virgin at once betook herself to Hebron, where her cousin resided : that is the mystery of the Visitation which is solemnized on the day following the octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
On this day, as in the season of Advent, the Church recalls together the memories of the Precursor and of Jesus and Mary. For we then remarked, that the Friday in the Winter Ember week recalled to us the same mystery of the Visitation.
This feast was instituted for the whole world, in 1389, by Urban VI, in order to obtain the end of the great western schism. It was later on raised to the rite of double of the second class by Pius IX, for on this feast was completed at Rome in 1849 the victory of the Church over the revolution. Mary visits Elizabeth and Jesus visits and sanctifies John. Wherefore St. John leaps with joy and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, exclaims: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Gospel).
The Virgin, Mother of God, who bears and gives birth to Him who bears and produces all things (Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory, Communion) then pronounces a "sublime canticle" (Introit), the Magnificat.
Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera Regem: qui caelum, terramque regit in saecula saeculorum. * Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.
Hail, holy Mother, thou who didst bring forth the King who ruleth heaven and earth for ever and ever. * My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King.
(Sedulius and Psalm 44:2 from the Introit of Mass)
Famulis tuis, quaesumus, Domine, caelestis gratiae munus impertire: ut, quibus beatae Virginis partus exstitit salutis exordium: Visitationis ejus votiva solemnitas, pacis tribuat incrementum.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, bestow on Thy servants the gift of Thy heavenly grace; that as the childbearing of the blessed Virgin was the beginning of our salvation, so the solemn festival of her Visitation may bring us an increase of peace.