Visitation (Christianity)

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"Visitation" with donor portrait, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret, c. 1435 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin) DARET Jacques Visitation.jpg
"Visitation" with donor portrait, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret, c. 1435 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)

In Christianity, the Visitation is the visit of St. Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, to St. Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 1:39–56 .

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the merciful Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers, with its followers affirming that Jesus is the Logos, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures and chronicled in the New Testament.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

John the Baptist 1st-century Jewish preacher and later Christian saint

John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity and "the prophet John (Yaḥyā)" in Islam. To clarify the meaning of "Baptist", he is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer.

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It is also the name of a Christian feast day commemorating this visit, celebrated on 31 May in Western Christianity (2 July in calendars of the 1263–1969 period, and in the modern regional calendar of some countries whose bishops' conferences wanted to retain the original date, notably Germany and Slovakia) and 30 March in Eastern Christianity.

Western Christianity is a religious category composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.4 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Slovakia Republic in Central Europe

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) and is mostly mountainous. The population is over 5.4 million and consists mostly of Slovaks. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, and the second-largest city is Košice. The official language is Slovak.

The episode is one of the standard scenes shown in cycles of the Life of the Virgin in art, and sometimes in larger cycles of the Life of Christ in art.

Life of the Virgin narrative scenes of the life of Mary in art, literature or music

The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space available. Works may be in any medium: frescoed church walls and series of old master prints have many of the fullest cycles, but panel painting, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, stone sculptures and ivory carvings have many examples.

Life of Christ in art Artistic theme

The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects narrating the events from the life of Jesus on earth. They are distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of Christ, such as Christ in Majesty, and also many types of portrait or devotional subjects without a narrative element.

Narrative

Statue of the Visitation at Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel Church of the Visitation IMG 0637.JPG
Statue of the Visitation at Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel

Mary visits her relative Elizabeth; they are both pregnant: Mary with Jesus, and Elizabeth with John the Baptist. Mary left Nazareth immediately after the Annunciation and went "into the hill country...into a city of Judah" ( Luke 1:39 ) to attend to her cousin ( Luke 1:36 ) Elizabeth. There are several possibilities as to exactly which city this was, including Hebron, south of Jerusalem, and Ein Karem. The journey from Nazareth to Hebron is about 130 kilometres (81 mi) in a direct line, probably up to half as far again by road, depending on the route taken. Elizabeth was in the sixth month before Mary came ( Luke 1:36 ). Mary stayed three months, and most scholars hold she stayed for the birth of John. Given the prevailing cultural traditions and needs for security etc., it is probable that Joseph accompanied Mary to Judah then returned to Nazareth, and came again after three months to take his wife home. The apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew 1:19–25, may have taken place then to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity. [1]

Nazareth Place in Israel

Nazareth is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel". In 2017 its population was 76,551. The inhabitants are predominantly Arab citizens of Israel, of whom 69% are Muslim and 30.9% Christian. Nazareth Illit, declared a separate city in June 1974, is built alongside old Nazareth, and had a Jewish population of 40,312 in 2014.

Annunciation Christian celebration and artistic theme

The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox celebration of the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking His Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yeshua, meaning "YHWH is salvation".

Hebron City in Hebron Governorate

Hebron is a Palestinian city in the southern West Bank, 30 km (19 mi) south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judaean Mountains, it lies 930 meters (3,050 ft) above sea level. The largest city in the West Bank, and the second largest in the Palestinian territories after Gaza, it has a population of 215,452 Palestinians (2016), and between 500 and 850 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all venerate Hebron for its association with Abraham; it includes the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs, within the Cave of the Patriarchs. Judaism ranks Hebron the second-holiest city after Jerusalem, while some Muslims regard it as one of the four holy cities.

In the Gospel of Luke, the author's accounts of the Annunciation and Visitation are constructed using eight points of literary parallelism to compare Mary to the Ark of the Covenant. [2] [3]

Gospel of Luke Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Luke, also called the Gospel of Luke, or simply Luke, is the third of the four canonical Gospels. It tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Ark of the Covenant religious artifact of the Hebrew religion

The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. According to various texts within the Hebrew Bible, it also contained Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. Hebrews 9:4 describes: "The ark of the covenant [was] covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tablets of the covenant."

In Catholicism, it is held that the purpose of this visit was to bring divine grace to both Elizabeth and her unborn child. Even though he was still in his mother's womb, John became aware of the presence of Christ, and leapt for joy as he was cleansed from original sin and filled with divine grace. Elizabeth also responded and recognised the presence of Jesus, and thus Mary exercised her function as mediatrix between God and man for the first time. [1]

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.

Original sin Christian belief in the state of sin in which humanity has existed since the fall of man

Original sin, also called ancestral sin, is a Christian belief in the state of sin in which humanity has existed since the fall of man, stemming from Adam and Eve's rebellion in Eden, namely the sin of disobedience in consuming the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a "sin nature", to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt.

And she [Elizabeth] spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. ( Luke 1:42–45 )

In response to Elizabeth, Mary proclaims the Magnificat (My soul doth magnify the Lord), Luke 1:46–55 .

The word "blessed" is rendered in Greek, not by the word "makarios", but as "evlogimeni", which is the feminine second person singular, used only this once in the New Testament. Its masculine third person singular counterpart "evlogimenos" is used only for Jesus and only on this occasion and when He was welcomed into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord". The masculine/mixed gender third person plural "evlogimenoi" is used by Jesus only when referring to the righteous who are to be raised to life in the Last Judgement.[ citation needed ]

Feast

Western Christianity

Eastern Christianity fresco of the Visitation in St. George Church in Kurbinovo, North Macedonia The Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary.jpg
Eastern Christianity fresco of the Visitation in St. George Church in Kurbinovo, North Macedonia

The theme of the Feast of the Visitation centers on Mary responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to set out on a mission of charity. [4]

This feast is of medieval origin. In 1389 Pope Urban VI, hoping thereby to obtain an end to the Great Western Schism, inserted it at the urging of John of Jenstein, archbishop of Prague, in the Roman Calendar, for celebration on 2 July. [5] In the Tridentine Calendar, it was a Double. When that Missal of Pope Pius V was replaced by that of Pope Clement VIII in 1604, the Visitation became a Double of the Second Class, or, as it would be called from 1960 by Pope John XXIII's reform, a Second-Class Feast. [6] It continued to be assigned to 2 July, the day after the end of the octave following the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, who was still in his mother's womb at the time of the Visitation.

The 1969 revision of the calendar moved it to 31 May, "between the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (25 March) and that of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), so that it would harmonize better with the Gospel story." [7]

The Catholic Church in Germany (together with the Lutheran church) has, with the consent of the Holy See, kept 2 July date as a national variation of the General Roman Calendar. Similarly, the Catholic Church in Slovakia has also retained the original date, because of an important national pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Visitation in the town of Levoča that has been held in the first weekend of July since the 13th century. 2 July is observed also by Traditionalist Catholics who use a pre-1970 calendar, and by Anglicans who use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (in some Anglican traditions it is merely a commemoration rather than a feast day). [8]

In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the Visitation is the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.[ citation needed ]

Eastern Christianity

The celebration of a feast day commemorating this event in the Eastern Orthodox Church is of relatively recent origin, dating only to the 19th century. The impetus to establish a feast day in the Liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church, and the composition of a service to be included in the Menaion, were the work of Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin (1817–1894), head of the Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. [9] The Gorneye Convent in Jerusalem, which was built on the traditional site of the Meeting of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) and St. Elizabeth, celebrates this Feast on 30 March. (Julian Calendar 30 March corresponds, until 2099, to Gregorian Calendar 12 April.) If 30 March falls between Lazarus Saturday and Pascha (Easter), the Visitation Feast is transferred to Bright Friday. Celebration of the Feast of the Visitation has not yet been accepted by all Orthodox jurisdictions.[ citation needed ]

In Syriac Christianity the feast of the Visitation is celebrated on the third Sunday in the Season of Announcements prior to Christmas. [10]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Holweck, Frederick. Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 October 2013
  2. Ray, Steve (October 2005). "Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant". This Rock . 16 (8). Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  3. "Lesson Three: The Ark of the New Covenant – Lesson – St. Paul Center". stpaulcenter.com.
  4. Samaha S.M., Br. John M. The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine (PDF)
  5. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 93
  6. General Roman Calendar of 1960
  7. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 128
  8. "The Calendar". 16 October 2013.
  9. Frary, Lucien J. (2013). "Russian Missions to the Orthodox East: Antonin Kapustin (1817–1894) and his World". Russian History. 40 (1): 133–151. doi:10.1163/18763316-04001008.
  10. "The Holy Virgin Mary in the Syrian Orthodox Church". 14 February 2010.

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Visitation (Christianity)
Preceded by
The Annunciation
New Testament
Events
Succeeded by
The Nativity