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Visitation - Doorway

Visitation - Doorway by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

Artist Narrative:

The feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates the visit of the Mother of God, with the child Jesus in her womb, to her cousin Elizabeth, who was herself six months' pregnant with the forerunner of Christ, Saint John the Baptist.

Feast day is May 31.

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The Visitation is the visit of Mary with Elizabeth as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 1:39–56. It is also the name of a Christian feast day commemorating this visit, celebrated on 31 May in the West (2 July in calendars of the 1263–1969 period and in the modern regional calendar of Germany) and 30 March in the East.

Mary visits her relative Elizabeth; they are both pregnant. Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary left Nazareth immediately after the Annunciation and went "into the hill country...into a city of Judah" (Luke 1:39) to attend her cousin Elizabeth. There are several possibilities as to exactly which city this was, including Hebron, south of Jerusalem, and Ein Karem. The journey was about 100 miles and Elizabeth was in the sixth month before Mary came (Luke 1:36). Mary stayed three months, and most scholars hold she stayed for the birth of John. Joseph probably accompanied Mary to Judah then returned to Nazareth, and came again after three months to take his wife home. The apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew 1:19-25, may have taken place then to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.

In Catholicism, it is held that the purpose of this visit was to bring divine grace to both Elizabeth and her unborn child. Even though he was still in his mother's womb, John became aware of the presence of Christ, and leapt for joy as he was cleansed from original sin and filled with divine grace. Elizabeth also responded and recognized the presence of Jesus, thus Mary exercised her function as mediatrix between God and man for the first time.

“And she Elizabeth spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:42–45) ”

It is also at this point, in response to Elizabeth's remark, that Mary proclaims the Magnificat (My soul doth magnify the Lord), Luke 1:46–55, for which reason this canticle had traditionally been reserved for this feast day.

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Visitation is the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.