The Rosary: The Visitation


The second of the five Joyous Mysteries is known as the Visitation and commemorates the visit of our Blessed Lady to St Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner, John Baptist.  The Visitation is a later-comer to the Calendar and devotional life of the Western Church, having been introduced by St Bonaventure in 1263. The Franciscans, in their devotions to the Ever-Virgin, spread the feast throughout the Church. It was extended to the entire Western Church by Pope Urban VI. The feast, with a vigil and an octave, was assigned to 2 July, the day after the octave of St. John, about the time when Mary returned to Nazareth. It did not arrive in the liturgical East until the mid-19th Century, and it is not, even now, widely celebrated. It is reported to have a service approved for use in the Orthodox Church, but no amount of Googling could find the text of the service, just copies of the same report over and over.

As is related in the Gospel text, when Mary said “Shalom!” the infant prophet, still in the womb of his mother, leapt for joy. Hearing of the baby’s action in utero the Blessed Virgin Mary uttered her poem in praise of God, the Magnificat. In the Byzantine rite, this is the Matins Gospel for nearly all the feasts of the Theotokos. The Magnificat is sung as the 9th Ode of the Canon in every Matins service as it also is part of every Vespers in the West. Even though in most Byzantine parochial practice all the other parts of the Canon get skipped for expediency, the 9 Ode is still sung in full.  Since this form is familiar to most users of the Byzantine rite, I will use it for the meditation on this mystery.

When away from a prayerbook and praying this mystery, I use the embolism as below.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, bring joy even within thy womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

As before, the introductory comment and the closing prayer comes from The St Ambrose Prayerbook, available from Lancelot Andrewes Press.

The Second Joyous Mystery: The Visitation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, understanding from the Angel that her cousin St Elizabeth, had conceived, went in haste into the mountains of Judea to visit her, and remained with her three months.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

For he that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
Hail, Mary, &c.

He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek;.He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O thou who from thy virginal loins ineffably lentest a body unto the Luminary that was before the sun, even God, Who hath dawned upon us, and dwelt among us in the body: O blessed and all-pure Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He that made the water to gush from the cloven rock for the disobedient people, to our joy granteth thee to the obedient nations as the fruit of barren loins.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O abrogation of the harsh ancient sentence, uprighting of our first mother, cause of God’s kinship with our race, and bridge unto the Creator: O Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Thou art the mystical paradise, O Theotokos; for that thou, being untilled, didst bud forth Christ, by Whom was planted on earth the life-giving tree of the Cross.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, spotless Mother of humility, by that exceeding love which moved thee to visit thy holy cousin St Elizabeth, obtain for us, through thine intercession, that our hearts being visited by thy divine Son, and freed from all sin we may praise and thank Him for ever. Amen.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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