Happy Birthday, Mary!

Today, September 8th, is ordinarily the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As it falls on a Sunday this year, it is displaced by the regular Sunday celebration. As I said the other day, I rather wish that the Holy Father had given everyone the choice of celebrating it anyhow, given the circumstances. Alas.

Anyhow, I saw a rather interesting relic of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Treasury of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna:

You guessed it: another blurry cell phone photo.

It is (purported to be) a relic of Our Lady’s gown. As you can see, some pious nun (I would imagine) decorated the reliquary with delicately-made silver and gold wire flowers and glass jewels. There is also the beautiful enamel of the Blessed Mother at the top.

Are such relics authentic? God only knows. On the one hand, we do possess some genuine relics dating from ancient times that have been shown again and again (through scientific tests, historical witness, etc.) to be authentic. On the other hand, it is also known that there was a certain fervor for relics at various points in history (esp. the Middle Ages) and certain relics “appeared” that are likely of dubious provenance.

What I always say is, whether it is the Real Thing or not, it aids us in our devotion and is a means for bringing us closer to the saint whom we venerate by it. That is a good thing.

Interestingly, I did learn from one of the Augustinian brothers that one of the means used in determining the authenticity of relics (or at least, later relics) is by viewing the ownership record. If there have been many owners, it is probably fake. If there have been few owners, it is more likely to be real. That test probably does not apply to this particular relic, in any case.

The Immaculate Conception

Getting back to today’s feast: it takes place exactly nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. On this day was born the Queen of Peace. And following Pope Francis’ advice, we turn to her and ask her to bring about peace in our world by her powerful intercession before the throne of her Son.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother!
To thee do I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

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