I came pretty close to spending an entire lifetime on planet Earth without knowing that it’s Our Mother’s birthday today. The painting above reflects this event from the perspective of a contemporary Russian artist named Vasili Nesterenko, who painted this in the year of Our Lord, 2002. Here’s a little something else I found in the old Roman Breviary over on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. Genealogists might get a kick out of it.
I’ve blown it up, and thanks to my Mac it’s crystal clear now. What we have here is a truncated family tree showing the lineage of St. Joseph on the left, and that of The Blessed Virgin Mary (abbreviated as The B.V. Mary) on the right. More commentary below from the Breviary,
Note on the pedigree of the Blessed Virgin. This subject is repeatedly treated of in the Office during this Octave, and it is therefore thought that it may be a convenience to the reader to see here at a glance what the Breviary says, here and elsewhere, upon it. What the Breviary does not enter upon is not entered upon here, e.g. the exact relationship of Mary of Cleophas, or of Elizabeth to the Blessed Virgin. The Scriptural names are given in small capitals; those found only in the Office, in ordinary type.
This entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia citation on “the Genealogy of Christ” provides some clarity to the Blessed Virgin’s side of the chart. Bold highlights are mine.
How can Jesus Christ be called “son of David”, if the Blessed Virgin is not a daughter of David?
(a) If by virtue of Joseph’s marriage with Mary, Jesus could be called the son of Joseph, he can for the same reason be called “son of David” (St. Augustine, On the Harmony of the Gospels, II, i, 2).
(b) Tradition tells us that Mary too was a descendant of David. According to Numbers 36:6-12, an only daughter had to marry within her own family so as to secure the right of inheritance. After St. Justin (Adv. Tryph. 100) and St. Ignatius (Letter to the Ephesians 18), the Fathers generally agree in maintaining Mary’s Davidic descent, whether they knew this from an oral tradition or inferred it from Scripture, e.g. Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8. St. John Damascene (De fid. Orth., IV, 14) states that Mary’s great-grandfather, Panther (cool name! see chart above), was a brother of Mathat; her grandfather, Bar-Panther (which means “son of Panther”), was Heli’s cousin; and her father, Joachim, was a cousin of Joseph, Heli’s levirate son. Here Mathat has been substituted for Melchi, since the text used by St. John Damascene, Julius Africanus, St. Irenæus, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus omitted the two generations separating Heli from Melchi. At any rate, tradition presents the Blessed Virgin as descending from David through Nathan.
And here is what St. Augustine has to say on this occasion,
Dearly beloved brethren, the day for which we have longed, the Feast-day of the Blessed and Worshipful and Always-Virgin Mary, that day is come. Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin’s rising. She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offence. At her that dolorous sentence which was pronounced over Eve ended its course; to her it was never said: “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” (Gen. iii. 16.) She brought forth a Child, even the Lord, but she brought Him forth, not in sorrow, but in joy.
Happy Birthday St. Mary! As you always do, please continue to pray for us.