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Pope Institutes New Marian Memorial

A new memorial celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title, Mother of the Church, has been inserted into the Roman Calendar and will be marked every year on the day after Pentecost.

Vatican Radio is announcing the release of a decree by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which calls for the institution of the liturgical celebration which will revive the ancient devotion to Our Lady under that title.

Cardinal Sarah traces the history of this title back to its beginning, when Mary stood beneath the cross of her Son and “welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal,” he writes in the decree. “She thus became the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit.”

Veneration of Our Lady under that title dates back to the earliest days of the Church, he says.

“In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. These considerations derive from the divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer, which culminated at the hour of the cross," the decree explains.

The foundation of this title was established by Blessed Paul VI on November 21, 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council. He declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honored and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles.”

Again, in 1975, during the Holy Year of Reconciliation, the Apostolic See proposed a votive Mass in honor of Our Lady under this title which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. In 1980, the Holy See allowed the invocation of this title into the Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986).

Some countries, dioceses and religious families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to their particular calendars.

Pope Francis desired to take this further with the hopes of sparking a growth of Marian devotion.

“Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year,” Cardinal Sarah announced.

From here on, this memorial will appear in all Calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of Mass and of the Liturgy of the Hours.

As the decree states: “This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.”

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