A common thread in the celebration of Mary’s birth is that, as our Savior’s mother, she represents the “first dawning of redemption in our world.” While the modern canon of scripture has no record of her birth, we do find a non-canonical history, documented about 150 AD. We know that her parents’ names were Joachim and Anna and that the couple, unable to conceive, yearned for a child. A beautiful tradition holds that an angel appeared to Anna, and promised the birth of a daughter. Joachim was considered a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and that as such, he had homes in both Judea and Galilee. Some accounts name Tzippori, Israel as Mary’s birthplace, while others maintain she was born in Nazareth, and some a house near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem.
Mary, born to become the mother of the Savior of the world, is represented by many holy symbols: A lily, fleur de lis, pierced heart, starry crown, rose, snowdrop, the Ark of the Covenant, seat of wisdom and many others. Saint Augustine describes Mary as “the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley.” Her birth, and ultimately the birth of her Son, transforms our inherited nature.
Both Eastern and Western Christians honor Mary, the Mother of God, and recognize her obedience, devotion, and love. The oldest known hymn to Mary is of Greek origin and titled, “Beneath Thy Protection.” It was found on a papyrus dating back to 250 AD, and translates to English as:
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
In our necessities
But deliver us always
From all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.