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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Birthday of Mary

In honor of the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary...

a beautiful holy card from our Victorian Religious Ephemera collection.

In the apocryphal Gospel of James from the 2nd Century AD, the names of Mary's parents are Joachim and Anna. St. Anne is traditionally honored as the mother of Mary (and the grandmother of Jesus). The Feast Day of Mary's birth (exactly nine months after the Immaculate Conception on December 8) probably began in 5th Century Jerusalem and has been widely celebrated since at least the 8th Century. There is also an apocryphal Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, translated from the Hebrew by St. Jerome in the 4th Century, in which an angel visits Anne to tell her of the birth of a daughter, Mary.

Ann (Anna) is the oldest name still used in the west, already an ancient name when used by the Hebrews. It is usually translated as "grace," but the original meaning is something difficult to translate, closer to "goddess." I believe I once read that it is the oldest name ever found for divinity. How appropriate that in Christianity this is the name is given to the grandmother of God.

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