ROME — In the next Roman Catholic holiday on the liturgical calendar following Christmas, Catholics worldwide observed the “Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God” today, a tradition that is perhaps little known by Christians but would nonetheless be rejected by most.
The feast day is a long-held Roman Catholic holiday that is meant to celebrate Mary’s part in the birth of Christ, and is specifically held eight days after Christmas to mirror the eighth day after Christ’s birth when He was circumcised and given the name Jesus. It was first observed by Roman Catholics in the 13 or 14th century, but went through a number of name changes to its current title 1969.
“This celebration, placed on January 1 … is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation,” Pope Paul VI wrote in his Marialis Cultis. “It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the ‘holy Mother…through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life.'”
The current pontiff of the Roman Catholic religion carried on this tradition on Thursday, delivering a homily in St. Peter’s Square to a crowd estimated to number more than 100,000.
“This is precisely the mission of the people of God: to spread to all peoples God’s blessing made flesh in Jesus Christ,” Francis said. “And Mary, the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus, the model of the pilgrim Church, is the one who opens the way to the Church’s motherhood and constantly sustains her maternal mission to all mankind.”
“Mary’s tactful maternal witness has accompanied the Church from the beginning,” he continued. “She, the mother of God, is also the mother of the Church, and through the Church, the mother of all men and women, and of every people.”
The pontiff then asserted that Mary is necessary in understanding Christ.
“The Blessed Virgin is the woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plans; she is the believer capable of perceiving in the gift of her Son the coming of that ‘fullness of time’ in which God, by choosing the humble path of human existence, entered personally into the history of salvation,” he said. “That is why Jesus cannot be understood without His mother.”
“May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family,” Francis concluded. “On this, the World Day of Peace, we especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among the nations.”
Other Roman Catholic leaders are likewise presenting messages today in observance of the feast day. Two days ago, the Catholic News Service released a video about purported apparitions of Mary in Rwanda, Africa.
“[W]e want to spread the message that Mary left to the world,” one man states in the video. “Not only Rwanda, but the whole world.”
There are several Marian holidays observed in Roman Catholicism throughout the year. Previously, Christian News Network obtained comment from Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) about an annual celebration entitled “The Feast of the Queenship of Mary.”
“It’s just a manifestation of idolatry,” he said. “The Roman Catholic Church has elevated Mary to a goddess. … They’ve even said that she participated in the atonement.”
“Catholics place undo emphasis on Mary and give her glories reserved only for God,” also noted Robert Thomas of Ex-Catholic Baptist. “Any undo exaltation of Mary is repulsive to a true Bible believing Christian who desires to see the Lord Jesus Christ alone exalted. … The Scriptures clearly teach that Mary was a sinner and therefore needed a Savior, [but under] Pius XII, Catholics are required to believe under the pain of mortal sin that Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and Queen of the Universe. … [W]here is the Scriptural proof for that?”