January 1

Mary, Mother of God, Roman Catholic Church

The Church upheld this title of Mary at the Council of Ephesus in 431, where St. Cyril proclaimed in Greek, "Emmanuel is very God, and ... therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Θεοτķκος, Theotokos, God-Bearer)" to condemn the teachings of Nestorius, who held that Mary bore Jesus' human body only, not his divinity. As usual, Church decrees lag far behind popular practice; the fact that Christians already did revere the Virgin as Mother of God was part of Cyril's argument. But as yet there was no Christian feast day to honor her thus. Julius Caesar's calendar reform of 46 BC had set January 1 as the start of the civil year. A commemoration of Natale Sanctae Mariae (Anniversary of Mary), celebrated August 15 in Jerusalem around 650, is said to have been observed on January 1 in Rome around that time. The Catholic church year begins with Advent, four weeks before Christmas. January 1 is a week after Christmas, its "octave" in liturgy and the day the child Jesus would have been circumcised and named in accordance with Jewish custom. Roman Catholics observed January 1 as the Octave of Christmas or the Feast of the Circumcision until the reforms of Vatican II, which took effect January 1, 1970, Solemnity of the Mother of God and World Day of Peace. (Picture of Icon of the Mother of God by Ada Bethune, silkscreen on wood, c1964, from The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery exhibit Women - Liturgical & Religious Art, www.stkate.edu/gallery/.)

Also celebrated this date:
bulletMadonna della Divina Provvidenza, Kabul, Afghanistan. Chapel at Italian Embassy inaugurated January 1, 1933.
bulletVirgen de la Nube, Azogues, Caņar, Ecuador (Virgin of the Cloud)
bulletVirgen de La Merced, Barberena, Santa Rosa, Guatemala (Jan. 1-6)
bulletOur Lady of the Milk, Bethlehem, Palestine. Mass and procession with icon at Milk Grotto, where Mary is said to have nursed Jesus.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly