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May 31 – The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

31 May, 2012

And, Mother Mary, give us Christ to carry Within our hearts, that we may conquer death.

Summary of the Feast of the Visitation. This feast celebrates the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, as told in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:39-56), and her example of faith in God’s word and sensitivity to the Spirit. It was introduced into the Franciscan calendar by Saint Bonaventure in the thirteenth century and was extended in 1389 to the entire Latin Church to heal the divisions in the Western Church of the time.

The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth by Fra AngelicoThe image is a depiction by Fra Angelico of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. The sonnet below, entitled The Visitation, and today’s feast, celebrate one wonderful moment of our salvation as Mary shares with Elizabeth the arrival of the “hidden God”.

Unlike a simple visit, a visitation is a visit with a purpose. It is an encounter with a purpose to achieve something important. It carries a meaning that is exceptional. In this meeting rather it is the exceptional presence of the Son Mary carries in her womb.

The following poem was written by American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), author of the well known poem Trees. It has a dedication to fellow American poet, Louise Imogen Guiney. A sergeant in the 165th US Infantry Regiment, Kilmer was killed at the Second Battle of Marne in 1918 at the age of 31.

THE VISITATION

There is a wall of flesh before the eyes
Of John, who yet perceives and hails his King.
It is Our Lady’s painful bliss to bring
Before mankind the Glory of the skies.
Her cousin feels her womb’s sweet burden rise
And leap with joy, and she comes forth to sing,
With trembling mouth, her words of welcoming.
She knows her hidden God, and prophesies.

Saint John, pray for us, weary souls that tarry
Where life is withered by sin’s deadly breath.
Pray for us, whom the dogs of Satan harry,
Saint John, Saint Anne, and Saint Elizabeth.
And, Mother Mary, give us Christ to carry
Within our hearts, that we may conquer death.