Thanks to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s The Birth of the Virgin

On this, the feast day of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, take a long look at this painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. He was a 17th century Baroque artist from Seville whose paintings depict the joys of spiritual life. This one, displayed at the Louvre in Paris, shows the birth of our Blessed Mother. She is being cared for by angels and servants while her mother, Saint Anne, rests in the background.

We don’t know much about the early life of the Blessed Mother. We don’t know where she was born or where she died. Her parents’ hometown is Nazareth. Most likely, she was born in Jerusalem. We know she was Jewish of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David. Her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, was of the lineage of Aaron.

And so, we don’t know if the Blessed Mother grew up in a household with servants. But what draws me to this painting is the exquisite care the painter took to show how the birth of Our Blessed Mother happened; surrounded by immeasurable love, by angels who cared for her from the moment of her birth. I love that our Church honors the Blessed Mother. Hers is one of just three birthdays we celebrate: Christ and Saint John the Baptist are the others. Today, let us remember that our Blessed Mother served as the temple of Christ.

Your birth, Birthgiver of God, announced joy to the whole world. From you came the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He released the curse and gave the blessing.

  • Frank

    Your birth, Birthgiver of God, announced joy to the whole world. From you came the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He released the curse and gave the blessing.Thanks be to God!

  • Stefanie

    I'm not sure how men feel about Mary, but as a mother, I know I would be in the dark without her as inspiration and guide. Every aspect of a mother's life is portrayed in the life of Mary. She has the unique power to bring everything to Jesus on our behalf. Even when she has no name –as in the gospel of John–it is enough that she is called 'Mother' or 'Woman' — she brings dignity to motherhood and to all women.

  • Frank

    It took me a while, but now I see her as my Mommy.

  • Anonymous

    I have a difficult time with seeing the importance and the claims aout Virgin Births, in general. Concerning the Catholic claims, it is particularly difficult to understand how the Church seems to see SEX, as such a dirty, filthy thing. The Church promotes pregnancy without contraceptive prevention of pragnancy, and encourages Catholics to have as many children as God sends to them. I can understand the emphasis upon Mary's virgin birth of Jesus Christ, but I think there's a lot of creativity somehow involved in proof of the Virgin Birth of her mother. Makes me wonder if the Virgin Mary's mother was also born of a Virgin mother, too, and on and on? I can understand the belief that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ by way of a Virgin Birth, mainly because it is so well-documented in Holy Scripture. Whether or not she gave birth to additional children, following Jesus' birth, I don't see as having any effect upon the Virgin character of her First Born. How would one be related to the other? It certainly would not negate it, as far as I can understand. And, why would it be important to accept the Immaculate Conception doctrine, concerning the birth of Mary's mother? Is that the basis for assigning to the BVM a supernatural and holy and heavenly identity, to put her into the same category with Jesus? If God is the one who gave us the beautiful gifts of sex and reproduction, why is it considered such as base and undesirable thing? As far as I'm concerned, you cannnot have it both ways. Either sex for the purpose of procreation is a beautiful and sinless gift to us from God, or it is not. What I thought made Mary such an important figure in Christianity, was the fact that she was a plain, unassuming young woman of no particular importance, socially, financially, or otherwise, and that being a humble young woman, God dignified here, anyhow, making her the Man God, Jesus' mother. He could have chosen a queen or an empress, but he chose humble little Mary. I think that's beautiful. Evidently, that part of it doesn't impress the Catholic Church, in the least, because it doesn't push the ennvelope on the supernatural character of her being. While I certainly honor the Blessed Mother, and I mean Mary, not Mary's mother, or her grandmother, or her great-grandmother, I can see the Church atempting to put her on the same level and footing as the Triune God, and This is something that will always troble the Church, until the error is corrected. She is the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, our God come to Earth, and that's enoughh for me. I don't require her to be EVER virgin, nor would I expect her ahdnyernmother to have had the same kind of birth as Jesus did. Mary is the Mother of God (not God the Father, but God the Son), and she has been given the honor of Sainhood. Isn't devotion to St. Mary enough? Seems to me it should be, without putting spin and stretch to the true story.

  • lome

    Our blessed Mother was the woman in Gen 3:15 all children of the light will be fighting the children of the serpent,up to this day. she is the "Woman cloth with the sun with 12 stars in her head" in the apocalypse of John From the stain of the original sin by the first Eve to our Salvation by the second Eve thru our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Allison

    @Anon: 1:52. Thanks for reading and sharing your views. There is a lot I want to respond to, so let me take this one point at a time. I am so glad you shared your questions and your confusion, as they are shared by many, including practicing Catholics.1/ The Catholic Church does not teach sex is a "dirty, filthy thing." The Church teaches, as do most Christian sects and many other world religions, that sex is intended to happen in a marriage and between a man and a woman. The sex act cannot be separated from the possibility of procreation, thus the idea of artificial contraception is illicit. The Church encourages the use of Natural Family Planning and as one who has used it in my own marriage I can tell you it works – as a means of either preventing or encouraging pregnancies. for the Virgin Birth of Mary Herself – No. What you are confusing is the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This dogma teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin. It absolutely does not teach that Mary was conceived by a Virgin Mother. This is confusing to a lot of people, so I can understand why you are befuddled.For details, read for Mary's perpetual virginity, the Catechism teaches the following: 499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.154 In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it."155 And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin".156500 Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus.157 The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus", are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary".158 They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.159501 Jesus is Mary's only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: "The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother's love."160

  • Stefanie

    Allison — what a nice summary of the Church's teachings on our Lady!

  • Allison

    @Stefanie: We "teach" what we need to learn. Questions such as Anon's help me understand our faith better.

  • Nambaziira

    The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary opened a door of salvation for us. With great faith, i retrieve the blessings and graces that surrounded her conception and nativity.I sincererly love her because she mothered my saviour.Blessed Virgin Mary cover us into your motherly mantle. Amen From Sr. Maxencia Nambaziira IHMR UGANDA

  • kkollwitz

    Wow, anonymous, I can't imagine a more spectacular view of sex than the Church's.Re Mary's continual virginity: Speaking as a husband and father, if I had married Mary knowing what Joseph knew, I can't imagine wanting sexual intimacy with her after she gave birth to Jesus.