Article by Sr. Molly Fernandes sfn

My visit to a religious article store left me speechless when I saw a rare statue of Maria Bambina laid on the table. Wow! I was elated, and there was a flashback of the holy picture we usually use during the novenas. This is the feast most loved by all with great fervour and devotion. Thousands of pilgrims throng to Vailankani in India and to other Marian shrines all over the world.

We in Goa celebrate the Feast as Monti Fest, and every parish celebrates this feast with novenas and a traditional way of showering flowers on the statue with a special hymn.. Devache Maie. I still remember we sang as children and also had lots of fun, throwing some petals on those in the front!!!. The Village of Chinchinim, celebrates it as the feast of their Patron, while the faithful at Sotrant – Cortalim celebrate it as feast of Our Lady of Vailankani. This year a lot of our Goans have travelled to Madras to be at the feet of Our Lady of Vailankani to fulfil their vows, as in the last two years people were forced to remain indoors due to the pandemic.

In the miracle of the Wedding at Cana, St John in his gospel focuses on the importance of the request of Mother Mary made to Jesus and of the instructions given by Mother Mary to the waiters. A ‘request’ and an ‘instruction’! She says to her Son, “they have no wine”! And to the waiters: “do whatever he tells you”. These are just phrases among the many spoken words as we do in our day to day life yet, they are not just mere phrases but Words that preponed Jesus’ ministry and manifested her as an intermediary and intercessor.

Yes, she intercedes for us and is our perpetual succour but do we as her children listen to her one and only one given instruction - Do whatever he tells you? If the waiters could listen to her, why not we? Is she interested in the candles we lit for her and all other daylong or distant pilgrimages? We call ourselves Christians but are we Christ like, our behaviour patterns? Christ gave us only one commandment. And if we say we love God, then the Word says: “if you love me you will obey my commandments”!

So, it’s high time that we take a deeper look and stop deceiving ourselves by coming to terms in giving up all inordinate ways.

It’s time to really respect the girl child, the little Maria Bambina in our homes, our neighbourhood, villages and in our Nation.

All of us no doubt love our Mother and in a special way remember and honour our mothers on their birthdays. Four to five decades back very rarely one would know the birthday dates and seldom celebrate. Rather the parents made the children happy, remembering them on their birthdays. Today’s parents have the photos of each year and every year a photo is added to the gallery. But unfortunately, we don’t have any account of our Beloved Blessed Mother Mary in the Gospels. Yet there are writings that give us little account of her birth.

The “Protoevangelium of James”, which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve tribes of Israel. He and his wife Anne were deeply grieved by their childlessness.

Pious accounts place the birthplace of the Virgin Mary in Sepphoris, Israel where a 5th-century basilica is excavated at the site. Some accounts speak of Nazareth and others say it was in a house near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. It is possible that a wealthy man such as Joachim had a home in both Judea and Galilee. However, Charles Souvay, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia, says that the idea that Joachim possessed large herds and flocks cannot be asserted with certainty, as the sources for this are "...of very doubtful value...."

The earliest document commemorating Marymas comes from a hymn written in the sixth century. The feast may have originated somewhere in Syria or Palestine in the beginning of the sixth century, when after the Council of Ephesus, the cult of the Mother of God was greatly intensified, especially in Syria.

The first liturgical commemoration is connected with the sixth century dedication of the Basilica Sanctae Mariae ubi nata est, now called the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem. The original church built, in the fifth century, was a Marian basilica erected on the spot known as the shepherd's pool and thought to have been the home of Mary's parents. In the seventh century, the feast was celebrated by the Byzantines as the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since the story of Mary's Nativity is known only from apocryphal sources, the Latin Church was slower in adopting this festival. At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks.

The church of Angers in France claims that St. Maurilius instituted this feast at Angers in consequence of a revelation about 430. On the night of 8 September, a man heard the angels singing in heaven, and on asking the reason, they told him they were rejoicing because the Virgin was born on that night; but this tradition is not substantiated by historical proof.

As we honour and venerate our Mother on her Birthday, we pray for protection under her mantle and the virtues by which she is endowed of being a true disciple and faithful Mother. Oh Maria Bambina – the little infant Virgin Mary, intercede for us to be delivered from all forces of evil and the tactics of Satan. Intercede for the babies in the womb of their mothers crying for protection and deliverance from deformities. Yes, Oh Maria Bambina pray for the girl child and the Mothers, that the mothers and girls/women be cared and respected by every man just as St. Joaquim your father showered love, respect and faithfulness. For the once safe Goa, is become a death trap for the girls and women as we hear of rapes and murders. Not even an infant is safe!!! Pray for us oh little infant – Maria Bambina.

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