The Vatican Council exhorted all the Church faithful to practice Marian devotion, a devotion that must be of liturgical nature above all (Lumen Gentium 67), which we do so by celebrating the normal liturgical Feast Days.
The Vatican Council has also reminded us that by celebrating the Lord’s Feast Days each year, the Church is also celebrating Mary. First and foremost, Mary is associated with the celebration of the Lord’s Feast Days, and Mary’s Feast Days also involve the Lord to whom Mary is indissolubly associated (Vatican II, Constitution on the Liturgy § 103).
The different Marian feast days have four degrees of importance:
- Solemn Holy Days
- Feast Days
- Days of commemoration (compulsory commemorations/ optional commemorations)
- Local Feast Days
In 1974, Paul VI renewed the Feast Day calendar of the Virgin Mary in his apostolic exhortation Marialis cultus.
Mary is associated to the Lord’s Feast Days
“By celebrating this annual cycle of Christ’s mysteries, the Holy Church also pours out a special love for the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God who is associated indissolubly to her Son in his saving work” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Holy Liturgy).
- The three-day observance of the Paschal Triduum
- The Nativity of Our Lord
- The Feast of the Epiphany
- The Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter
- Ash Wednesday
- All Sundays
Mary’s Solemn Holy Days and Feast Days
- September 8: The Virgin Mary’s Nativity - Feast
- December 8: Immaculate Conception - Solemn Holy Day
- January 1: Holy Mary Mother of God - Solemn Holy Day
- February 2: The Presentation of Our Lord - Feast
- March 25: The Annunciation - Solemn Holy Day
- The Saturday after the 4th Sunday of Easter: Holy Mary, Comforter of the afflicted, the main Patron Saint of Luxembourg (Luxembourg - Solemn Holy Day)
- March 31: The Visitation of the Virgin Mary - Feast
- July 26: St Anne (Canada) - Feast
- August 15: Assumption - Solemn Holy Day
- August 31: Saint Mary the Virgin, Mediator (in Belgium). In North Africa, this is a Solemn Holy Day.
Commemorations of Mary
- Each Saturday: when the day is not a Solemn Holy Day, a Feast Day or a compulsory commemorative day, the memory of Our Lady may be celebrated.
- Commemorative days linked to the stories of the ancient Apocrypha, stories that have no historical value, but still have a spiritual value:
- November 21: Presentation of Mary in the Temple
- July 26: Saint Anne and Saint Joachim
- Commemorative days linked with apparitions of the Virgin Mary:
- February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes
- May 13: Our Lady of Fatima
- December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe
- December 27: Apparition to St Catherine Laboure (at the Rue du Bac in Paris, France)
- Commemorative days linked to Church history:
- After the Council of Ephesus (431) there was a wish to honor Mary, the Mother of the Lord’s humanity and Mother of God; the Basilica of Saint Mary Major was dedicated to Mary, and August 5 was created as the Feast Day.
- The schism of Avignon (1378) encouraged the Bishop of Prague, Jenstein, to introduce the Feast of the Visitation.
- The Huss heresy led to the Cologne Synod (1423) and proclamation of the Feast Our Lady of Sorrows.
Diocesan commemoration days, local Feast Days
These are very numerous! They celebrate a remarkable event in a Diocese (the foundation of a shrine after an apparition or private revelations, regional sites of pilgrimage...) or an important event for a religious order.
For example, Our Lady of la Salette (celebrated on September 19, our Lady of Banneux, Our Lady of Beauraing, the apparitions in Betania, Our Lady of All Nations (Amsterdam) and Our Lady of L’Ile Bouchard, etc. fall in this category.