On the final day of May, the Month of Mary, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation. I’ve always found this feast day (which is also the Second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary) a really fun one. One of the ways I like to look at the Feast of the Visitation—apart from its profound theological significance—is at its simple, human level.
This is a feast day when we remember two expectant mothers who came together to celebrate their divinely-heralded (and surprise) pregnancies, and to share with each other their merriment and joy. How fun!
On a natural level, this meeting is a beautiful testament to female bonding and female friendship—like sisters! Can you imagine what their woman-to-woman, heart-to-heart talks over those three months of visiting with each other must have been like? If their first words to one another are any indication, I bet there were some amazing conversations between these two holy women!
It was when Elizabeth was six months pregnant that the Angel Gabriel was sent to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Nazareth to announce the Incarnation of the Son of God, the moment we celebrate on the Feast of the Annunciation (the First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary). After the Angel Gabriel left Mary, the Bible tells us, “Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40).
Why did she hurry? I imagine one of the reasons is that she was brimming over with so much excitement about what just happened to her that she just had to share it with someone she trusted (the Blessed Virgin was, after all, very much a woman!), someone who would understand the gravity of the event, a woman who would know something of what she was feeling, just as two sisters or two girlfriends would do. It is a testament to the tender goodness of God that he so cared for the Blessed Virgin that he provided her with a friend and relative to share her profound joy.
And Elizabeth was just the right person to greet Mary’s joy and excitement. Elizabeth not only listened just as an intimate friend would, but she could also join Mary in her joy because she received a similar miraculous grace. Elizabeth’s response to Mary is so marvelous that we pray it as the second part of each Hail Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (The first part of the Hail Mary is, of course, the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation). Mary’s response back to Elizabeth is the glorious Magnificat that we pray daily in the Liturgy of the Hours, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior....”
The Holy Spirit not only spoke through Mary and Elizabeth in that moment, but he also preserved their words in Sacred Scripture through the Gospel writers. And not only that, he also enshrined their words in the most beautiful and important of the Church’s prayers, which are repeated daily.
The Feast of the Visitation is packed full of theological goodness, comprising the richness and beauty of the prayers of the Church . . . and its origin is a meeting between two very happy, holy, pregnant mothers! How perfect!
This article has been adapted from an original article, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Two Mothers Rejoice! published at CatholicMom.com. Copyright 2013 Gretchen Filz