May 31

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholic and Anglican churches

The Feast of the Visitation commemorates the visit of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, to her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist despite her old age, as described in Luke 1:39-56. Filled with the Spirit, Elizabeth recognized her young cousin as "the mother of my Lord," and spoke words that would become part of the Hail Mary prayer: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb," repeated daily by Catholics worldwide. Mary responded with what would become one of the most beloved Christian prayers, the Magnificat.   

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake 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.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Statues in Visitation of Our Lady Church, Gharb, Gozo, 
Malta, from "Attractions/Churches/Visitation of Gharb,"

The Feast of the Visitation was introduced to the western church by the Franciscan order in the 1200s. It was celebrated on July 2, eight days after the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, until 1969, when Pope Paul VI moved it to May 31 so that it would fall between the Annunciation (March 25) and the Nativity of St. John (June 24), preserving the liturgical narrative sequence.

 Also commemorated this date:

bulletQueenship of Mary, Catholic Church, 1954-1969 (moved to Aug. 22)
bulletNossa Senhora do Sagrado Coração, Brazil (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart). Festa celebrated widely by confraternity.
bulletNossa Senhora do Perpétuo Socorro, Assis, Acre, Brazil (Our Lady of Perpetual Help). Festa; mass, procession, food.
bulletNossa Senhora das Graças, Senador Guiomard, Acre, Brazil
bulletOur Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, Belgium and Brazil
bulletNotre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart). Chapel blessed, 1910
bulletNuestra Señora de Guápulo, near Quito, Ecuador. Close of month of romerías.
bulletNotre-Dame du Mont-des-Cats, Godewaersvelde, Nord, France. Celebration of restored chapel, 2005.
bulletNotre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, Pontigny, Yonne, Burgundy, France. Abbey founded, 1114.
bulletNotre-Dame des Miracles, Déols, Indre, Centre, France. Statue bled when struck, 1187.
bulletMadonna della Stella, Cellatica, Brescia, Lombardy, Italy (Madonna of the Star). Apparition, 1536.
bulletMadonna della Misericordia, Valfurva, Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy, Uzza district (Madonna of Mercy)
bulletMadonna del Melo, Minerbio, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Madonna of the Apple Tree), in church of San Giovanni in Triario.
bulletMadonna del Colle, Pescocostanzo, L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy (Madonna of the Hill)
bulletMadonna dell'Archetto, Rome, Italy. Chapel dedicated, 1851.
bulletMaria Ausiliatrice, Rome, Italy (Mary the Helper). Painting in Basilica del Sacro Cuore crowned, 1963.
bulletMadonna delle Grazie, Sora, Frosinone, Latium, Italy. Torchlight procession.
bulletMaria Santissima del Rosario, Nola, Napoli, Campania, Italy
bulletMadonna di Conadomini, Caltagirone, Catania, Sicily, Italy
bulletMadonna Pellegrina, San Procopio, Reggio Calabria, Calabria, Italy. Torchlight procession.
bulletMadonna della Spina, Lamezia Terme, Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy, Bella district
bulletMadonna delle Puglie, Garaguso, Matera, Basilicata, Italy
bulletNuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, Paso de Ovejas, Veracruz, Mexico, Tolome district
bulletLady of All Nations, Amsterdam, Netherlands
bulletWonderbare Moeder, Elshout, Drunen, North Brabant, Netherlands (Miraculous Mother). May closing procession.
bulletOnze-Lieve-Vrouw van Zegge, Zegge, Rucphen, North Brabant, Netherlands. May closing procession.
bulletMadre del Amor Hermoso, San Vicente de Cañete, Cañete, Lima, Peru (Mother of Beautiful Love). Statue moved to new shrine, 1991.
bulletVirgen de las Flores, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Baclaran district, St. Rita's Church. Flores de Mayo procession.
bulletOur Lady of Shongweni, Ntshongweni, Natal, South Africa
bulletNuestra Señora del Rosario, Hellín, Albacete, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. Statue crowned, 1955. Floral offering. Fiesta 1st Sun. Oct.
bulletNuestra Señora de la Esperanza Macarena, Seville, Andalucia, Spain. Statue crowned, 1964. Feast Dec. 18.
bulletVirgen del Carmen, Murcia, Murcia, Spain. Statue crowned, 2008.
bulletMary Immaculate Queen of the Universe, Lombard, Illinois, USA. National shrine installed at St. Pius X Church, 1974.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly