Liturgical memorials of Mary and Joseph

In 1974, Paul VI restored the calendar of celebrations of the Virgin Mary, in his apostolic exhortation Marialis cultus. The Catholic liturgy has a certain gradation, marking some degrees of importance. After speaking of the way that Mary is associated with the feasts of the Lord, we presented the solemnities and feasts of Mary. We now turn to Mary's memorials, some of which are obligatory, others optional and others celebrated only locally.

Every Saturday is an opportunity to remember Mary (optional).

Some memorials have a very ancient origin. For example:

- The date of August 5th, fixed shortly after the Council of Ephesus, commemorates the building of the first basilica dedicated to Mary Mother of God.

- The memorial of November 21st originated in the East, where it is an important feast.

Some of Mary's memorials are tied to a feast of Our Lord. For example:

-The Immaculate Heart of Mary (memorial) follows the solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

-Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th) is a liturgical memorial that follows the feast of the Glorious Cross. The difference in festive degrees indicates that this is not a complete symmetry: on the one hand the Virgin Mary participates in the mystery of Christ as a spouse, whom love elevates to a rank of equal dignity; on the other hand, she echoes him in a secondary way: Salvation comes from God, from Jesus.

The memorials of Mary were often established after a Marian apparition or a private revelation. However, the liturgy does not celebrate the apparition itself but the grace of Salvation, which is made present in a particular way in Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, etc. [1]

We should add to this list the liturgical celebrations that are particular to each diocese. [2] But there are so many that we can’t list them all here. Those local celebrations mark a notable event in a diocese, such as the foundation of a shrine following a private apparition or message, a regional pilgrimage, or an important event for a religious order.

In this category we can cite:

Our Lady of La Salette (celebrated on September 19th),

Our Lady of Banneux,

Our Lady of Beauraing,

The apparitions of Betania,

The Lady of All Nations (Amsterdam),

Our Lady of l'Ile-Bouchard, etc.

These feasts often correspond to the anniversary date of the first in a series of apparitions.


[1] Cf. Silvano Maggiani, The memorie liturgiche delle mariofanie, in Apparitiones beatae Mariae Virginis in Historia, Fide, Theologia. Proceedings of the PAMI Congress, Lourdes, 2008 (PAMI, Città del Vaticano, 2010), volume I, pp. 377-407

[2] Excerpts from Patrick SBALCHIERO ‘s article "Liturgie", in: René LAURENTIN and Patrick SBALCHIERO, Dictionnaire encyclopédique des apparitions de la Vierge, Fayard, Paris 2007.