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Nativity of the Virgin Mary

An icon of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

THE ICON

Saint Anna - the central figure, reclining on her bed; an elderly woman robed in blue.

The Nurses - the figures surrounding Saint Anna; these were mid-wives to help with birthing.

The Theotokos(Mary) - appears as an infant in a cradle attended by a nurse.

St. Joachim - the figure in the lower right; an elderly man with white hair and a beard.

The figures in the upper left are Joachim and Anna in an embrace denoting the natural conception of the Theotokos.

THE FEAST

The record of the birth of Mary is not found in the Bible. The traditional account of the event is taken from the apocryphal writings which are not part of the New Testament scriptures. The traditional teaching which is celebrated in this feast is that Joachim and Anna were a pious Jewish couple who were among the small and faithful remnant "the poor and needy" awaiting the promised Messiah. The couple was old and childless. They prayed earnestly to the Lord for a child, since among the Jews, barrenness was a sign of God's disfavor. In answer to their prayers, and as the reward of their unwavering fidelity to God, the elderly couple was blessed with the child who was destined, because of her own personal goodness and holiness, to become the Mother of the Messiah-Christ.

The fact that there is no Biblical verification of the facts of Mary's birth is incidental to the meaning of the feast. Even if the background of the event as celebrated in the Church is questionable form an historical point of view, the divine meaning of it "for us men and for our salvation" is obvious. There had to be one born of human flesh and blood who would be spiritually capable of being the Mother of Christ, and she herself had to be born into the world of persons who were spiritually capable of being her parents.

The feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, therefore, is a glorification of Mary's birth, of Mary herself, and of her righteous parents. It is the celebration as well of the very first preparation of the salvation of the world. (Taken from Worship, The Orthodox Faith Vol. II by Fr. Thomas Hopko)

HYMNS OF THE FEAST

TROPARION

YOUR NATIVITY, O VIRGIN, HAS PROCLAIMED JOY TO THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, CHRIST OUR GOD, HAS SHONE FROM YOU,
O THEOTOKOS! BY ANNULLING THE CURSE, HE BESTOWED A BLESSING.
BY DESTROYING DEATH, HE HAS GRANTED US ETERNAL LIFE.

KONTAKION

BY YOUR NATIVITY, MOST PURE VIRGIN, JOACHIM AND ANNA ARE FREED FROM BARRENNESS;
ADAM AND EVE, FROM THE CORRUPTION OF DEATH.
AND WE, YOUR PEOPLE, FREED FROM THE GUILT OF SIN, CELEBRATE AND SING TO YOU:
THE BARREN WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO THE THEOTOKOS, THE NOURISHER OF OUR LIFE!