REFLECTION FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C), Week beginning 7TH AUGUST 2022
5th August is a very significant date in the Church’s calendar. Its status is “Optional Memorial” which means there is the option, on that day, for the celebrating of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed the doctrine of Mary as Mother of God – in the Greek “Theotokos” meaning “God-Bearer”.
A little later, to mark this, Pope Sixtus 111 (432-440) directed a basilica to be built at Rome (on the Esquiline Hill) in honour of the Holy Mother of God. It would soon be known as St. Mary Major – the oldest church in the West dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. What is surely of interest about August 5th is that Our Lady revealed to the Medjugorje visionaries that this was her actual birthday. The Church now formally celebrates it on September 8th – the reason for that being that it is nine months on from December 8th, the great and solemn feast of the Immaculate Conception. That earlier day celebrates Our Blessed Lady being conceived immaculate – free from the mark of Original Sin passed down from Adam and Eve. August 5th, being her true birthday, is surely a very interesting fact. The Basilica of St. Mary Major dates from the opening half of the fifth century AD. Therefore, the Oral Tradition of the first few centuries in Christian history is very much in evidence here. (‘Oral Tradition’ points to information being passed around by word of mouth, before ever being written down – if even being considered for writing down).
Real and accurate information on Mary of Nazareth would have flourished in the Oral Tradition from the opening century AD. One of the earliest facts to then emerge would quite naturally have been her date of birth. So, for this reason, August 5th surely merits to be marked each year with the Mass of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.