Happy feast day! Yes, on May 31 we celebrate the Visitation! Why May 31? Well, it’s between the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and the John the Baptist’s feast day (July 24). And so, why not?
For those of you who may not know, this is the first meeting between Mary and Elizabeth after the Annunciation. See, during the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, is unexpectedly pregnant. And so Mary discerns that the Holy Spirit wants her to assist Elizabeth and rushes down to visit her… and help her of course! Here’s the gospel reading of the day:
A beautiful gospel, isn’t it? And so, it is fitting to illustrate this gospel with a beautiful artwork!
It’s a beautiful picture set in medieval Hungary and it really is beautiful the way all the details are drawn out. This is one of the featured works for the Hungarian National Gallery, and as you look at the details, you can see why!
Now, this feast day has been celebrated for a long time… it was first celebrated around the thirteenth century, some believe. But, while I was looking at the history, I was surprised as to why the day was originally dedicated to the Visitation. It’s due to the various factions that broke off from the Church!
And so, in this feast day of the Visitation, we pray especially for unity of the Church. Thus, we look to Mary, who embodies the Ark of the Covenant. And by that, I mean that she carries the very Word in her womb — Jesus Christ.
By the suggestion of God’s messenger, Gabriel, Mary traveled nearly 100 miles to meet with Elizabeth. And thus, she is able to share the God’s presence with Elizabeth, who recognizes the Lord at once. Just as King David danced in front of the Ark of the Covenant, Elizabeth exclaims out loud in joy that she has encountered God, and her baby leaps in the womb in joy!
And we pray that we allow others encounter the Lord through our Church, just as Mary allowed others to experience and glory in the Lord.