Giuseppe da Leonessa: On the birthday of the Virgin Mary

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Translator’s note:

This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. In I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/2, pp.2578-2592. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Sermons of Giuseppe da Leonessa

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

In the Liturgy it says that St Giuseppe da Leonessa was “an illustrious preacher of the Gospel”. Such praise is well deserved if we consider that the Saint’s ardour was so strong that it drove him to preach six to eight sermons in the one day. Once, on the Feast of St Francis, he delivered twelve sermons! When he preached the Lenten course it was not enough for him to preach in one church but he also went into neighbouring towns as he did in 1604 at Norcia. We read in one of the texts in the Apostolic Process that “by his preaching Father Andrea da Leonessa aroused the admiration of all who heard him because of the depth of the things that he said with simplicity and because of the fervour of spirit with which he said them. In those who heard him he aroused feelings of compunction and contrition. How did he do this? There is no possible explanation other than that the Spirit of the Lord was at work within him since he was not familiar with studies and read nothing except the Bible. When he went to preach, he took nothing with him except his Crucifix which was his only baggage, his breviary and a small hand written note book.

These hand written books are mentioned in a description of the items that were left by the Saint that was written on 25 November 1629. “There were 16 books written in ink on the Scriptures and the Gospel. There were a further 17 books written in ink on logic, theology and other subjects. There was another small book written in ink which contained various proverbs.” The manuscripts are now held in the friary at Leonessa. They were later sent to Rome to be examined prior to the beatification. After that they were deposited in the archives of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (6 December 1704) and subsequently sent to the Postulator General of the Causes of Saints of the Order where they remained in the archives until a few years ago when they were returned to Leonessa. During these movements various pieces were lost and some pages were torn out no doubt because of thoughtless devotion. Almost all contain sermons or complete writings in Latin and in Italian in a style that could be published. With the passing of time the Saint did not write his complete sermons anymore, but was satisfied with short notes, always in small letters so that a small page might contain 60 written lines.

One of these small pages is headed Mariale and it contains various sermons for the Feasts of the Madonna. From among these we have taken a sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin (1). From another codex, entitled Santoriale, which includes sermons for various Saints, we have taken a sermon on St Joseph the Spouse of the Madonna (n. 2). These two sermons illustrate one of the great devotions of the saint. Finally, we thought it appropriate to take one of his sermons from the Lenten course from a codex filled with preaching notes with the Fragmenta pro quadragessima (Selections for Lent). This sermon which was delivered at the end of a Lenten course deals with the twelve apparitions of the Lord following his resurrection and is a good example of the simple style and fervour of the apostle who knew how to stimulate reflections and provoke suggestions in a language that suited the audience. (n. 3).

On the Birthday of the Most Glorious Virgin Mary

First part

6148 1. By means of heavenly and divine inspiration the Holy Spirit threw light on the Church concerning the solemnity of the sacred and happy birth of the glorious Virgen Mary, the immaculate Mother of God, Queen of heaven, mistress of the world, consolation of the just, salvation of sinners, guide of pilgrims, comfort of the poor and ocean of all grace, by making her read this part of the Holy Gospel, the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.[1] In my opinion I do not think that the sacrament and mystery of such a princess of Christ’s triumph could have been proclaimed by a more fitting reading from scripture than this reading where St Matthew speaks of “the genealogy of Christ Jesus.” I tell you certainly and truly that I could not have found anything better myself especially after contemplating this mystery as it is presented in Sacred Scripture and considering its mystical meaning. Then let us reflect on: 1. the book of the divine nature; 2. the book of predestination; 3. the book of knowledge; 4. the book of redemption; 5. the book of the Sacraments.

First of all, I say that because the divine nature is a single unit, we should read the book of the unending infinitude and divine generation of Christ, because, according to this book, paternity causes the mind to know and the memory retain so as to subsequently produce awareness of the meaning of this knowledge. Thus, in the divine mind the divine essence is the immediate object of knowledge, fit memoria fecunda fecunditate notitiae (let memory be filled with fruitful knowledge). Here memory is the Father, what is known is the Son, and because this knowledge is completely spiritual, it is called verbum (the word). In principio erat Verbum[2], id est notitia in memoria vel Filius in Patre; (In the beginning was the Word, that is knowledge is in the memory or the Son in the Father.) It is not by chance that he is said to be figura substantiae (the image of His substance)[3]. He is coeternal with the Father, splendor gloriae (the brightness of His glory)[4] and because he is like him omnimo (completely) he is called the Son. Because through him all creatures were made, he is called the architect of the world, per quem Deus fecit et saecula (through him God made the world).[5]

Secondly, I say that the divine essence can be called a book because just as the letters shine out from the page all creatures reflect the divine essence, only in a more splendid manner because the letters on the page are finite and pass away, whereas creatures are related to the divine essence and are eternal, infinite and have subsistence.

6149 The book of the divine essence is the book of life both because the essence is divine and the life of God Himself, and because all God’s creatures were given life: quod factum est in ipso vita erat (whatever was made had its life from him)[6], and finally because ab ipso vita processit (life comes from him). In this book creatures are written down with the pen of the divine intellect using the ink of divine wisdom. No creature can be erased from this book since God cannot go back on his thoughts because his thought is the meaning of such that conoscit omnia temporalia aeternaliter, omnia futura praesentialiter, omnia contingentia necessario, omnia corruptibilia incorruptibiliter, omnia imperfecta eminenter, omnia dubia sicure, omnia vera inevitabiliter.[7]

However, the book contained Christ, who was the first person, who shone in divine knowledge and who was in the book of eternal generation, along with the blessed and glorious Virgin because she was the worthiest creature that God had known because of her close relationship with his Son. This is the meaning of the eternal birth of the blessed Virgin. This is why the Church rejoices about her since in his wisdom: Dominus possedit me in itio viarum suarum antequam quicuam faceret a principio. Ab aeterno ordinate sum, et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret; necdum erunt abissi et ego iam concepta eram, ante omnes colles ego parturiebar. (The Lord possessed me in the beginning, before he made anything in the beginning. I was set up from eternity, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. Before the mountains I was brought forth,)[8] In these words we understand that the blessed Virgin is adorned with a great divine birth. Let us think of how she is filled with more grace than all other creatures, so that in this book about divine generation she was conceived and born in this condition. O blessed Virgin! O blessed Virgin!

6150 2. The book of the generations of Jesus Christ. The second book, that is the book of the generations of Jesus Christ, is the book concerning predestination, because statim post productionem rerum in esse cognito est productio rerum in esse volito,[9] because God’s absolute and speculative knowledge of things is not the only cause of things, his knowledge is joined to his will in producing and predetermining things.

This book is written on the same paper as the divine will with the pen of the divine intellect, since the divine intellect knows by means of knowledge and the divine will predestines by means of willpower: quos praescivit hos et predestinavit, (whoever he foreknew, he also predestined)[10] using the ink of his divine mercy, since initium nostrae slutis Deo miserante habemus (God’s mercy is the beginning of our salvation). This book requires the book of life both because God bestows eternal life, and because we are predestined to spiritual life by means of the grace of Christ, and because we are predestined to come to eternal life by the means provided by grace.

The book of predestination makes use of the book of the generations of Christ because Christ was the first predestined person, qui predestinatus est Filius Dei. (he who was predestined was the Son of God.)[11] It is also true, as St Paul says, that we were predestined in Christ; In quo predestinat (in whom we are predestined.) [12] However, there is a difference between Christ’s predestination and our predestination for we were predestined by means of the grace and the glory of adopted children, whereas Christ was not predestined by means of grace or glory but because of the person that he was including his human nature which never lacked the grace of God which was part of the hypostatic union. No one, who has been given grace or who attingunt iam finem et ego vitam aeternam do eis, et non rapiet eos quisquam de minibus Patris mei, (who has already reached the end and whom I have given eternal life can be taken out of the hands of my Father)[13] can be written out the book of predestination. Those who have not been confirmed in grace as well as those who do not listen to God’s voice can be written out. Ecce vocavi et renuistis, (I called and you refused)[14] and those who have not obeyed the Gospel: Non omnes obedient Evangelio (all do not obey the Gospel)[15]

6151 We maintain that the book of divine predestination contains the name of the blessed Virgin before the names of any other creature, since she was not only predestined by means of grace and glory, but also to become the mother of God, something greater than any other creature and, once she was confirmed in grace, she could not be written out of that book. Once the kind God had this in mind, she was conceived and once he predestined her by an act of his will she was born. This is so because just as nativitas non est aliud nisi conceptum fœtus producit ad lucem (birth is nothing else that bringing the foetus into the light) creatures who exist in the mind of God initially are brought forth by the action of God’s will. Consider, dearly beloved, the great importance of the birth of the glorious Virgin. This is why the Church sings with regard to her: Ab initio et ante saecula create sum, et usque ad futurum saecula non desinam et in habitatione sancta coram ipso ministravi. (From the beginning and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before you)[16] (Exercises).

6152 3. Liber generationis Jesu Christi. The third book of the generations of Jesus Christ is Sacred Scripture, and this was written by men but with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as St Peter said: Non enim voluntate humana aliquando allata est prophetia, sed Spititu sancto (inspiati) locuti sunt sancti Dei homines. (For prophecy came not from the will of man at any time, but the holy men of God spoke in spired by the Holy Ghost.)[17]

This is required in the book of life because Sacred Scripture leads us to know God who is the life of the living: Omnia ex ipso per ipsum, et in ipso (for all things are of him, by him and in him). [18] The book of life needs Sacred Scripture because it teaches us how to live a just life, a perfect life, and active and contemplative life. Quaecumque scripta sunt, ad nostrum doctrinam scripta sunt. (For what things soever were written were written for our learning.)[19] The book of life needs Sacred Scripture because whoever carries it out well will gain eternal life. [Si] vis ad vitam ingregi, serva mandata. (If you wish to enter life, keep the commandments.)[20]

Sacred Scripture is called the book of the generations of Christ because it is where Christ is conceived and born in our minds. Scructamini Scripturas, quia illae sunt quae testimonium perhibent de me. (Search the Scriptures, for they give testimony of me.)[21] The witness of Sacred Scripture generates all kinds of considerations about Christ in our mind. What else could endow our mind with the thought that Christ is life? It is Sacred Scripture that says: Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant. (I come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly,)[22] What else could endow our mind with the thought that Christ is our salvation? Sacred Scripture says; Ipse salvum faciet populum suum a peccatis eorum. (For he shall save his people from their sins.)[23] What else could endow our mind with the thought that Christ is our mediator? Scripture does that where is says: Mediator Dei et hominum. (Mediator between God and man.)[24] What else could endow our minds with the thought that Christ is priest and prophet? Scripture does this where it says: Ecce rex tuus (Behold your king)[25] at first: and then secondly assistens pontifex, (a high priest)[26] and then thirdly: propheta magnus (a great prophet)[27] What else could endow us with the thought that Christ became our justice, sanctification and redemption? Scripture does this where it says: Factus est nobis iustitia a Deo, sanctification et redemptio. (He is made unto us wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption.)[28] I will not mention the symbols and prophecies that endow our mind with all the mysteries concerning Christ. Scrutamini Scripturas.

6153 In the book about life which is in Sacred Scripture where it speaks about the spiritual generation of Christ there is mention of the blessed and glorious Virgin. Sacred Scripture says that she was conceived and born with more spiritual qualities than anyone else. She was conceived when the Holy Spirit spoke to the patriarchs and prophets. They gave birth to her when they spoke of her with their lips in the various ways that the Holy Spirit inspired those holy men with each one bringing her forth in a different way. Some compare her splendour with that of a star: Orietur stella ex Jacob (the star of Jacob has risen);[29] others compare her to light: Nova lux oriri visa est (a new light has risen);[30] other compare her to a gate; Vidit portam speciosam in domo Domini (he saw a beautiful gate in the house of God); [31] others compare her to the sun and the moon;[32] Pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol; (Fair as the sun, bright as the moon;)[33] others speak of her as Virgin and Mother; Ecce Virgo concipiet et pariet filium (behold a virgin will conceive and give birth);[34] others compare her to a new miracle; Novum faciet Dominus (the Lord will make all things new);[35] others compare her to the root of Jesse: Egredietur vigna de radice Jesse (there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse).[36]

So, then we can appreciate how great the blessed Virgin’s spiritual birth was being outdone only by her birth into eternity. Oh, Christians, having been conceived in grace spiritually, consider her very holy virtues and bring them to birth by means of good works, and nourish them with the milk of devotion so that you can say with the blessed Virgin: Qui me elucidant, vitam aeternam habebunt (whoever explains me shall have life everlasting);[37] because a devout contemplative has said: Haec autem scripta sunt in libro sacrarum Scriptuarum de Filio et de Matre, ut credentes vitam habeatis in Filio et Mater eius. (These things concerning the Son and the Mother have been written in the book of Sacred Scripture so that by believing in them you might have life in the Son and His Mother).

6154 4. Liber generationis Jesu Christi. The fourth book of the generations of Christ contains his death and Passion, our redemption for eternity. Accipe volumen libri huius, et scribe in eo stilo ferreo (Take the book and write with an iron pen).[38]

The book deals with the purest, most precious flesh of Christ written with an iron pen, because it was pierced with iron nails and a lance made of iron with the wound being the handwriting. The ink was the most precious blood. We are all mentioned in this book. Ecce descriptsi te in manibus meis (Behold I have you in my hands).[39] Note that it says “in my hands” because there were nails in his right and left hands.

The book of life had to deal with the death of Christ because that it what caused our life. Mortui enim estis, et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo. (You are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God.)[40] This was required to be in the book of the generation of Christ because of his death and because his name took its place above every other name. It was required to be in the book of life because destruxit quidem mortem, illuminavit autem vitam. (He has destroyed death and brought to light life.)[41] The book of the generation of Christ was needed because by his death his name was raised above every other name: Dedit illi nomen quod est super omne nomen. (He gave him a name that is above all names.)[42] to state that we had been regenerated into a life full of hope. Regenerativit nos in spem vivam. (He regenerated us unto a lively hope.) [43] We have been regenerated as the adopted sons of God.

6155 More than any other rational creature the blessed Virgin was conceived, generated and brought to birth in the book of Christ’s Passion and death. She received more sanctifying grace than any of God’s saints and chosen ones because through the precious blood of Christ she was preserved from original sin as the Church says in song: Deus, qui per immaculatam Virgini conceptionem dignum Fillio tuo habitaculum preparasti, presta ut sicut ex morte eiusdem Filii sui prevista eam ab omni labe praeservasti (usque in finem). (O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant that as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the death of your Son (continue to the end.)[44]

Oh, what a birth this was! Certainly, whoever considers Christ’s Passion will experience increased devotion and continually pray to the Virgin to intercede for us to become children of Christ by means of grace.

6156 5. Liber generationis Jesu Christi. The fifth book of the generations of Christ is about the Church militant. This is the Church that John saw in the Apocalypse, as a book covered with writing on the inside and the outside, and that had seven seals which no one was able to break.[45] The writing on the inside concerned certain secret mysteries, the writing on the outside concerned commonly known mysteries. The seven seals were God’s anger, God’s curse, the misery of slavery, the ancient punishment, beastly ignorance, venial sin, and everlasting death. These were the seven seals. Blessed Christ broke them when chiographum decreti, quod erat adversum nos, tulit de medio, et affixit in cruce dolens quod erat adversum nos. (when he blotted out the decree that was against us and took it away by fastening it to the cross).[46] The seals were broken so that you would know that his anger had been turned into love, his curse into a blessing, and the fault replaced by grace, punishment replaced by glory, slavery replaced by freedom, ignorance replaced by knowledge of God, death replaced by life.

6157 The book of the Church militant is written on pages made up of the faithful with the ink of the love of Christ using the pen of his virtues. It is truly a book about life, because those who are members of the Church can always have access to the spiritual life of Christ. This is required in generating Christ because children are brought forth for Christ by the administration of Christ’s teachings and Sacraments, as St John said: Filioli mei, quos iterum parturio in Christo (my little children, for whom I am in labour again.)[47]

In this book Christ is designated as the head and father of all. Flecta genua mea ad Patrem Domini mei Jesu Christi, ex quo omnis paternitas in cœlo et in terra nominatr (of whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named.) [48] In the Church of God, the Virgin Mary was the first to be conceived, generated and brought forth as the daughter of the Father and spouse of the Holy Spirit, mother of the Son, advocate of sinners, guide of those who are just. Oh, what a birth was this! We may say truly that there is no greater mystery in God’s Church than that it has Mary. Virgo mater gratiae, mater misericordiae, tu nos ab hoste protégé et hara mortis suscipe. (Virgin mother of grace, mother of mercy, defend us from the enemy and support us at the hour of death.)

6158 6. Liber generationis Jesu Christi. I wish to add another book to these books which I will call the book of the dead. It is written on the pages of retribution with the pen of divine justice using the ink of bad deeds. It cannot be called the book of life but the book of death because qui non est scruptus in libro vitae missus est in stagnum ignis (whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the pool of fire.)[49] It is a book reserved specifically for the wicked. Deleantur de libro viventium et cum iustis non scribantur. (Let them be blotted out from the book of life and with the just let them not be written.)[50] We can add this book to the book of the generation of Christ because he is the judge before whose tribunal all will appear: Oportet nos exhiberi (manifestari) ante tribunal Christi. (We must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ.)[51]

You should open this book because it contains much information about, carentia visionis Dei. (Those who lost sight of God.) It says: Veh vobis divitibus, veh vobis qui nunc habetis consolationem vestrum, veh vobis qui nunc ridetis. (Woe to you that are rich, for you have your consolation. Woe to you who laugh now.)[52] If we want to be cancelled from this book then we must take two books into our hands: Christ’s book of life in our right hand, and the Virgin Mary’s book in our left hand.

Oh, what most wonderful books they are! Christ has the most beautiful saying: Qui manet in me et ego in eo, hic fert fructum multum. (Whoever abides in me, and I in him, the same will bear much fruit.)[53] As for Mary she is the book of the generation of Christ, both because she carried him and because if we study her holy virtues, they will bring Christ to birth within us. (Application).[54]

Second part

6159 Filij David, Filij Abraham. (The son of David, the son of Abraham.)[55] Just as in the first part of the sermon we explained the blessed Virgin’s eternal birth and her spiritual birth, so in the following part we shall explain her blessed and holy birth in time. We can see from the Gospel where it says Filij David, filij Abraham[56] that just as what we said then was important and sublime, what we are about to say now is just as important and sublime. This is why the Holy Spirit wanted to have these two people mentioned by name since it was mainly through them that the promise about Christ had been made. Abraham was told: In semine tuo benedicentur omnes gentes. (In your seed I shall bless all peoples.)[57] St Paul explains: Non dicit, in seminibus, quasi in multis, sed in uno quod est Christus. (It does not say and to his seeds as speaking of many, but as speaking of one, who is Christ.)[58] David was told: De fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuum. (From the fruit of thy womb I will set someone upon the throne.)[59] St Paul explained this when he said: Qui factus est ex semine David secumdum carnem. (Who was made from the seed of David according to the flesh.)[60] Holy Church reads this Epistle on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary because she wishes to proclaim that the one who was born on that day came from the stock of Abraham and from the stock of David. Mary’s flesh belonged to the line of Abraham and the line of David. This is why she sings: Ex semine Abrahae, orta de tribu Juda, clara ex stirpe David. (Born of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of shining Judea, out of the stock of David.)[61]

Filij David, filij David. David is named first and then Abraham because the office of king is of higher dignity that the office of patriarch. This means that Christ is both prince and patriarch. Holy Church is trying to tell us that the Virgin Mary is not only being born into the world, but that she is the Queen of the world and having that degree of dignity she must shed light on the whole world. Regali ex progenie Maria exhorta refulgent, cuius precibus nos adiutari mente et spiritu devotissime poscimus. (When the sacred Virgin was born, then the world was filled with light, may her intercession help us to be devout in mind and spirit).[62]

6160 Filij David, filij Abraham. David was a sinner and Abraham was a just man. This is why David was placed before Abraham, since Christ came first of all for sinners and then for those who are just. Pro iustis vix quis morityr, (One will scarcely die for a just man,)[63] mortuus est iustus pro inustis. (a just man died for the unjust.)[64] The Church wants us to come to know this by reading this passage during this solemnity in order to show us that the one who was born today was the one who is the main advocate for sinners. Therefore, today she sings: Cum iucunditate nativitatem beatae Mariae celebremus, ut ipse pro nobis intercedat ad Dominum Jesum Christum (Let us celebrate the birth of holy Mary, so that she will intercede for us the Lord Jesus Christ.)[65]

Filij David, filij Abraham. David was the one of whom it was written that he was a man who lived according to the heart of God: Inveni virum secundum cor meum. (I found a man who lived according to my heart.)[66] Abraham was the one who shed his blood as a sacrifice in his circumcision and was a symbol of Christ who had to shed blood in the sacrifice of the cross, and who lived close to the heart of God and who gave proof of this on the cross. We read this passage on this Solemnity so as to understand that the one who was born is the mother of Him who shed his blood for us when his heart was opened on the cross. This is why the Church sings: Christo canamus gloriam in hac solemnitate praecelsae genetrices Dei Mariae. (On the Solemnity of Mary, the mother of God, let us sing to Christ about her glory.)[67]

Filij David, filj Abraham. David comes before Abraham in the reading because it wants to show that Christ was the son of David who was the son of Abraham. It also wants to show that David was more like Christ and Mary than Abraham and so the Church sings: Hodie nata est B. V. (the Blessed Virgin was born today)(and he quotes the whole hymn.)[68]

6161 Abraham genuit Isaac, Isaac autem genuit Jacob. (Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob)[69] I do not intend to mention all the generations but I will say that the Gospel intended to show that from Abraham to David, from David to the migration to Babylon and from the migration from Babylon to Christ the course of generations was complete and the fullness of time had arrived. At ubi venit plenitudine temporis, misit Deus Filium suum. (When the fulness of time had come, God sent his Son.)[70] The holy Church is celebrating the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary because it wishes to demonstrate the one who was born today brought the fullness of grace into the world. De qua plenitudine omnes accepimus gratiam pro gratiam. (of his fulness we have all received, grace for grace.)[71] This is true of the Blessed Virgin more than of anyone else since the angel said to her: Gratia plena, Domin us tecum. (Hail full of grace the Lord is with thee.)[72]

The generation included kings, priests, patriarchs, prophets and leaders since the one who was born today was not to give birth to a king, a priest, a patriarch, a leader, a prophet in giving birth to Christ, but giving birth to someone whose generation exceeded twelve kings, twelve leaders, twelve patriarchs and twelve priests and prophets. This is why the Church sings: Nativitatem hodiernam … (he adds perpetuae Virginis Genetricis Dei Mariae solemnoter celebremus, quia celsitudo Throni processit.)[73] (Today on the Birthday … of the ever Virgin Mother of God let us celebrate with solemnity for she occupies a heavenly throne.)

Three shameful women were included in the genealogy of Jesus. The first was Thamar who had been set free from a curse. The second was Ruth the Moabite who was set free from slavery. The third was Rahab who was freed from death because she symbolised that the one who was being born into the world today who would enlighten the three Churches: the Church triumphant, the Church militant and the Church suffering. The Church triumphant was freed from the curse of the devil: Reconcilians quae in cœlis et quae in terries sunt. (Reconciling what was in heaven and what was on earth,)[74] The Church militant was freed from slavery: Non sumus ancillae filj, sed liberae, qua libertate Christus nos liberavit. (We are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free, by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.)[75] The Church suffering was freed from eternal death: Sedentibus in regione umbrae mortis lux orta est eis. (For the people that waited in the darkness of death a light shone.)[76] This is why the Church sings: Nativitas est hodie Sancta Mariae Verginis … (cuius vita inclyta cunctas illustrat Ecclesias). (Today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary … (whose spotless life enlightens the whole Church.)

6162 The Gospel ends saying: Jacob autem genuit Joseph, virum Mariae, de qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus. (Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.)[77] It was not possible for anyone to know from which tribe the blessed Virgin had come from unless she had been joined in marriage since women were not part of a genealogy. Once they were married it was immediately made known which tribe they came from because they could not wed men who did not belong to their own tribe. For example, women from the tribe of Zebulon could marry men from that tribe. Because Joseph was from the tribe of Judah, he could not marry any woman who did not come from that tribe, Mary came from that tribe. As she came from that tribe God wanted her, God willed her to be given in marriage to St Joseph so that it was clear that she came from the tribe of Abraham and David to which the promise had been made. This is why it says: De qua natus est Jesus, qui vocatur Christus, who was born from Mary after being conceived through the Holy Spirit.

6163 Holy Church wants us to read this lesson on the birthday of the glorious Virgin so that we would know that the mother of Him who brought salvation to the whole world had been born, the one who had been promised to the ancient patriarchs and prophets. Therefore, the Church is singing: Nativitas tua, Dei genetrix virgo … (gaudium universo mundo). (Your birthday virgin mother of God … (brings great joy to the whole world). It proclaimed happiness to the archetypical world, the heavenly world, the lower world and the infernal world. It gave happiness to the archetypical world because the mother of the one who enlighten everyone had been born. Civitas illa non indiget sole. (The city has no need of the sun.)[78] It proclaimed rejoicing to the world on earth, because the mother of the one who confundens mortem donavit nobis vitam semperternam (by destroying death would give us eternal life.) It brought happiness to the infernal world because she was the mother of the one who enlightens all. Sol justitiae Christus Deus noster. (The Sun of justice Christ our God.) O blessed Virgin; O blessed Virgin your birth proclaimed great joy! Now that you are in heaven, we beg of you to give birth to Christ so that we may share the eternal salvation that He merited for us.


To the praise of the blessed Virgin

  1. The quote is taken from the Gospel of the day: Mt 1: 1-16.
  2. Jn 1: 1.
  3. Heb. 1: 3b.
  4. Heb. 1: 3a.
  5. Heb. 1: 2.
  6. Jn 1: 3-4.
  7. English translation: he knows everything that is transitory from eternity, all that is in the future as if it were present, all that is conditional as if it were compulsory, all that is corruptible as if it were incorruptible, all that is imperfect as if it were faultless, all that is doubtful as if it were certain, all that is in the future as if it were inevitable.
  8. Prov. 8: 22-25.
  9. As soon as things are present in the intellect, they appear in the will.
  10. Rom 8: 29.
  11. Rom 1: 4.
  12. Eph. 1: 11.
  13. Jn 10: 28.
  14. Prov. 1: 24.
  15. Rom 10: 16.
  16. Sir 24: 14.
  17. 2 Pet 1: 21.
  18. Rom 11: 36.
  19. Rom 15: 4.
  20. Mt 19: 17.
  21. Jn 5: 39.
  22. Jn 10: 10.
  23. Mt 1: 21.
  24. 1 Tim 2: 5.
  25. Mt 21: 5; Jn 12: 15; 19:14.
  26. Heb 9: 11.
  27. Lk 7: 16.
  28. 1 Cor 1: 30.
  29. Num 24: 17.
  30. Ps 96: 11 (Vulg.); Sir 24: 6.
  31. This is not a quote from Scripture but it sounds like Acts 3: 2.
  32. Song 6: 9a
  33. Song 6: 9b.
  34. Is 7; 14.
  35. Jer 32: 22
  36. Is 11: 1.
  37. Sir 24: 31.
  38. Job 19: 24; Is 8: 1.
  39. Is 49: 16.
  40. Col 3: 3.
  41. 2 Tim 1: 10.
  42. Phil 2: 9.
  43. 1 Pe 1: 3.
  44. Collect for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
  45. Cf Rev. 5: 1-4.
  46. Col 2: 14.
  47. Actually, it was St Paul Gal 4: 19.
  48. Eph 3: 15.
  49. Rev. 20: 15
  50. Ps 68: 29 (Vulg.).
  51. 2 Cor 5: 10.
  52. Lk 6: 24-25
  53. Jn 15: 5
  54. The words in brackets which we have seen before were added by St Joseph of Leonessa to indicate that a practical application should be introduced at this point.
  55. Mt 1:1.
  56. Ibid.
  57. Gen 12: 3; 22: 18, 4.
  58. Gal 3: 16.
  59. Ps 131: 11 (Vulg.).
  60. Rom 1: 13.
  61. From the Office of the Madonna.
  62. Antiphon from the Feast of the Madonna.
  63. Rom 5: 7.
  64. 1 Pet 3: 18.
  65. The entrance antiphon on the Birthday of the Virgin Mary.
  66. Acts 13: 22.
  67. From the Office of the Madonna.
  68. From the Mass on the Birthday of the Madonna.
  69. Mt 1: 2.
  70. Gal 4: 4.
  71. Jn 1: 16.
  72. Lk 1: 28.
  73. From the liturgy of the Feat of the Birthday of the Madonna.
  74. 2 Cor 5: 19; Col 1: 20.
  75. Gal 4: 31.
  76. Is 9: 2; My 4: 16.
  77. Mt 1: 16.
  78. Rev. 21: 23.