Mary’s birth is not recorded in the Bible. What we celebrate on September 8 each year is not Mary’s birthday in the traditional sense, but we honor the blessing of her being born. The word nativity refers to the circumstance or occasion of one being born.
We honor the Nativity of Jesus, celebrated on December 25, the date nine months after the celebration of the visit of the angel, Gabriel, at the Annunciation. In a similar way we remember Mary´s nativity, coming exactly nine months following the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the December 8 Solemnity when we commemorate Mary’s gift of prevenient grace allowing her to be born without Original Sin.
Mary's nativity is found in the Apocrypha, principally the Protoevangelium of James which has been dated by historians prior to 200 AD. This book, not included in the Catholic Canon of Scriptures due to concerns with authorship and authenticity, gives us a detailed account of the birth of Mary including detailed conversations between Mary's mother, St. Anne and the midwife.
“Mary was the first person to take the ‘way’ to enter the Kingdom of God that Christ opened, a way which is accessible to the humble, to all who trust in the word of God and endeavor to put it into practice.” – Pope Benedict XVI
As scripture reveals, “Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.'” Despite a widely held misconception, Mary needed a Savior, just like each of us. Mary’s Savior was her Son, Jesus, just like us. In God’s infinite goodness and wisdom, she mystically received this redeeming grace at her birth and she was born without sin. God could bring this about because He is outside of human time.
Mary’s nativity is a cause for great joy as it is considered the "dawn of our salvation" as Pope Paul VI wrote in the document, Marialis Cultus in 1972. Mary, Stella Maris, “Star of the Sea,” brought a great light into a darkened world. Her birth ushered a hope into the world, it had yet to see, and harkened to the greatest Hope, yet to come.
About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!